Buckeyes defense concentrates on Juice

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- There's no need for Ohio State's veterans to watch video of Illinois quarterback Juice Williams. They've seen the replays in their minds, over and over again. Williams put together a personal highlight reel in 2007 when he led the Illini to a stunning victory over a Buckeyes team that came into the game top-ranked and undefeated. The most toxic clip is of Williams engineering a drive that ate up the final 8 minutes while Ohio State was desperate to get the ball back to try for a tying score. But Williams played keepaway, Illinois won 28-21 -- and it was another big-game painful moment for the Buckeyes. Illinois' fans and players flooded the field to celebrate at midfield atop Ohio State's logo. "Bad memories," Ohio State linebacker Austin Spitler said grimly, staring straight ahead. "I remember them dancing on the block O in Ohio Stadium. It just wasn't fun." The Buckeyes swear they have let go of that image and are more concerned about the Xs and Os of this year's game as Illinois returns to Ohio Stadium on Saturday for the first time since that mammoth upset. "We went over it that one time and then we moved past it," cornerback Chimdi Chekwa said. "I mean, it's two years ago. We're not really going to harp on what happened two years ago. Obviously, we're going to mention it because that's the last time they played here. Then we're going to move on and get ready for this weekend." To avoid a repeat of 2007, Ohio State must find a way to contain Williams, who is adept at running (he had 70 yards on 16 carries two years ago against the Buckeyes) as he is at passing (he threw for 192 yards and two TDs a year ago in Ohio State's 30-20 win in Champaign, Ill.). "The thing about Juice Williams is he's a double threat," linebacker Ross Homan said. "He's an unbelievable passer and at the same time if he gets outside the pocket he's a great runner. You have to defend against the run and against the pass -- and you don't have that every week." Even if a human statue is playing quarterback, the defense starts up front. "You always want to try and get pressure," said Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell. "The good thing is last week the front did such a good job (in a 38-0 win over Toledo). Whether it was three guys, four guys or five guys, they did an unbelievable job at getting there and causing havoc. That's the name of the game. It makes it a lot more difficult, when you've got a guy who moves as well as Juice." The key is chasing him without having to commit extra people to the chase. Ohio State is hoping its linemen can break through Illinois' front wall. "The bonus defensively is if you can put pressure without sending the masses, if you can put pressure on and still cover with adequate people," coach Jim Tressel said. "If you have to send extra people, obviously there are spots open to throw the football." Williams hurt a leg muscle in the victory over Illinois State two weeks ago, but used a bye week to get healthy. "I'll be ready to go come Saturday," the senior said. "(The off week was) perfect timing. Couldn't get any better." Perhaps one thing working in Ohio State's favor is that its defense frequently practices against a mobile quarterback who can beat you with his arm or his legs. Buckeyes starter Terrelle Pryor (6-foot-6, 235 pounds) is essentially a taller duplicate of Williams (6-2, 235 pounds) in strength and ability. "We face a running quarterback all the time," Chekwa said. "Running quarterbacks, they all play the same type of game. Terrelle helps us out with that." Williams said Illinois' defense must do the same thing to Pryor that Ohio State's unit will try to do against him. "He's a weapon that's hard to stop," Williams said of his counterpart. "Hopefully our defense has an answer for him." That goes double for the Buckeyes.