QB Jeff George Jr. to take over for Chayce Crouch as Illinois' starter

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Jeff George Jr. has been named the starting quarterback at Illinois, which is off to a middling start behind the Big Ten's worst offense.

Chayce Crouch started in the Illini's first four games, but after a 28-6 loss to Nebraska, coach Lovie Smith decided to change things up with his team averaging just under 20 points per game going into Saturday's game at Iowa (3-2, 0-2 Big Ten).

"Some positions you try to stay the course as much as you possibly can," Smith said Monday. "But you kind of have to look at what's going on the field."

Crouch threw for just 99 yards and had several errant passes against the Cornhuskers. So far this season, he only has two 100-yard passing games and hasn't thrown a touchdown since Week 1 against Ball State.

George appeared in five games last season and started four. During that span, he racked up 470 passing yards, four touchdowns and five interceptions. This season, he has only played in one game: He threw for 211 yards and two TDs in the second half of a blowout loss to South Florida.

Smith also said freshman quarterback Cam Thomas will be competing for playing time for Illinois (2-2, 0-1). Last week, Thomas was suspended for violating team rules.

"There's a lot of things we're not doing right," Smith said. "But we feel like in order to take that next step, we do need to make that change."