Here are some of the hotter Big Ten football items buzzing around the Internet on this day. Plus, see three tweets that caught my eye.
Lions den: Hey Penn State fans, looking for something to stress out about over the Nittany Lion offense? Here are three items, courtesy of Black Shoes Diaries.
1. A quarterback battle
2. The offensive line
3. New staff
Sounds about right. For complete analysis, go to BlackShoeDiaries.com:
Keeping focused: There is no room for complacency at Michigan State. And just in case running back Le’Veon Bell forgot that, he seemingly was sent a message. In late March, MSU coach Mark Dantonio was asked if Bell had a hold of the top job he held last season.
“I think it’s important that we’re not complacent,” Dantonio said. “That’s my answer.”
But, since that perceived or unperceived slight, Bell has responded with a strong spring so far, coming off a 2011 season that saw him run for 948 yards and 13 touchdowns.
“All you need to do is watch him run today,” Michigan State running backs coach Brad Salem told Joe Rexrode of the Lansing State Journal.
Sophomore slump? Blake Countess will have none of it after a strong debut for the Michigan cornerback in 2011. He entered the starting lineup in the fourth week last season and never looked back, joining the likes of former Wolverine greats Donovan Warren, Marlin Jackson and Charles Woodson who started at corner as freshmen. Yes, Countess could be special. Exciting, isn’t it?
“As you get older, you become more comfortable with the defense, so now you don’t have to really focus on the plays (as much),” Countess told Kyle Meinke of AnnArbor.com. “You can focus more on watching film and game planning.”
Something that could aid Countess’ development is the consistency of Michigan’s defense, which will feature the same 4-3 scheme it ran last year. The Wolverines haven’t employed the same defense in consecutive years since the Lloyd Carr era. Countess and his teammates will benefit from that.
Now hear this: Greg Davis isn’t Kent O’Keefe—and this is change, says Marc Morehouse of the Cedar Rapids Gazette.
“We obviously have a new playcaller now and so there’s going to be a different style,” Hawkeye quarterback James Vandenberg told Morehouse. “We’re not going to be Texas Tech, I know that. Everything is called a little different, but I wouldn’t see major, major five-wide (receiver) changes or zone read (the QB running play that Texas rode Vince Young into a national title in ’06) coming anytime soon.”
While Davis may have ideas to open up the attack, the key question will be how much Kirk Ferentz lets him do. Ferentz is notoriously conservative, but he understands the need for Iowa’s attack to get more dynamic and versatile. I’m excited to see how Davis impacts this offense.
Back in action: Less than five months after he tore an ACL, Marcus Jones is turning heads again at wideout, says Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Incredible.
“That is a truly amazing story,” Gophers coach Jerry Kill, who watched Jones catch passes in early March to prove himself healthy enough to take part in spring practice, albeit without any tackling. “It’s beyond medical science, that one. It’s an unbelievable comeback — he looks as fast as he ever was.”
This is a Minnesota offense that needs all of the playmakers it can get to help quarterback MarQueis Gray. And Jones showed as a freshman he’s capable of being a dynamic weapon, as he became the first Gophers in four years to run back a kickoff for a touchdown.
Tweets That Matter
My take: I think it’s very important for the Spartans to get Arnett. The Tennessee transfer who injects a big dose of athletic ability into a receiving corps that losses B.J. Cunningham, Keith Nichol and Keshawn Martin. New quarterback Andrew Maxwell needs all the good targets he can get.
Iowa will remain 2 gap on DL in most situations. That's going to a tough go with redshirt frosh DL.—
(@marcmorehouse) April 04, 2012
My take: Morehouse raises a good question on if Iowa has the personnel up front to run such a scheme. The unit will be young, and a two-gap style requires strong linemen.
Massaro on Ted Roof: A really smart guy, a motivator and when he puts a scheme in he explains the strengths and weaknesses to the players—
Bob Flounders (@BobbyFlo7) April 04, 2012
My take: Massaro is correct. Roof is a smart guy who brings a wealthy of experience to Penn State, coordinating defenses at Auburn, Minnesota and Georgia Tech—among other stops. Look for Roof’s defenses to take more chances than Tom Bradley’s. The question: Is the personnel present to execute what Roof wants to run?
Tom Dienhart is a senior writer for BTN.com. You can subscribe to the Daily Links RSS here, find all of his work at www.btn.com/tomdienhart, follow him on Twitter at @BTNTomDienhart, send a question to his weekly mailbag here, and click here to subscribe to his overall RSS feed.