Last night, we watched the Huskers practice on the second stop of our BTN bus tour. Up next, it’s Minnesota on Saturday. You can watch the Nebraska Preview Show at 10 p.m. ET tonight. Until then, check out these quality Big Ten web links.
TIME TO SNAP THE SKID: Straight from the “can you believe this” category: Minnesota hasn’t had a 1,000-yard rusher since 2006. And JC transfer running back James Gillum wants to end that dubious skein.
Gillum showed he could carry a big load in the JC ranks, running for over 1,000 yards in each of his two seasons. He could be the workhorse this attack needs, as the other backs have had issues staying healthy.
In case you were wondering: 2006 was the last year of the glorious Glen Mason era, when smash-mouth football and 1,000-yard rushers were as common as sleet and snow in the Twin Cities. Ah, those were the days.
MAY THE BEST MAN WIN: The battle for the Wisconsin starting quarterback job is on between Danny O’Brien and Curt Phillips.
O’Brien is the Maryland transfer with 17 career starts, while Phillips is coming off three knee injuries in hopes of claiming the job.
Joel Stave and Joe Brennan also are in the mix, but the Badger signal-caller duty figures to come down to O’Brien or Phillips. And, in the end, I will be shocked if O’Brien doesn’t win the job.
ILLINI NOTES: Bob Asmussen of the Champaign News-Gazette has a nice notes package from camp.
One of the best nuggets is a quote from Penn State cornerback Stephon Morris on the transfer of offensive lineman Ryan Nowicki from the Nittany Lions to Illinois.
“I’m gonna say what I’m gonna say,” said Morris at PSU media day. “That’s like me saying I’m gonna transfer to Michigan — how would they feel? No, that’s a coward move to me.”
Instead of being mad at players who transfer, maybe Morris should be mad at his school’s leaders for not doing their job.
Just a thought. The right thought.
TALKING ARM STRENGTH: No one denies Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter is a wondrous athlete who can make plays with his feet. But, he needs to improve his throwing. Check out this video of Colter discussing—among other things—improving his arm strength with the Chicago Tribune.
HIT HIM ALREADY! No. 3 Purdue quarterback Rob Henry wants to get tackled so he can test his repaired knee. He last was tackled vs. Indiana in the 2010 season finale, when the knee was hurt. Henry subsequently missed 2011—and lost his starting job.
Now, he’s fighting to get on the field. And, he may do so in a variety of capacities as a wideout, running back and, yes, quarterback. Bottom line: He will be one of the most interesting Boilermakers to watch on an offense that has pressure to perform as it looks for playmakers.
LOOKING AT LINEBACKERS: Brian Christopherson and Steve Sipple of the Lincoln Journal Star break down the Nebraska linebackers in this video.
Lots of positive stuff to discuss for a group that will start three seniors in Alonzo Whaley, Sean Fisher and Will Compton. These guys have been filling and fitting gaps in Bo Pelini’s defense for years. They know what they are doing. And they will be good for a defense that could be very good. Yes, you read that correctly. The Blackshirts may be back.
NOTHING WRONG WITH BEING NASTY: The great Lee Barfknecht of the Omaha World-Herald has a nice piece on how Michigan State enjoys a nasty rep on defense.
He is right. The Spartans could have the best defense in the Big Ten, with 18 of the top 22 players back. Yes, even sans massive tackle Jerel Worthy. And that terrific defense is why I think Michigan State may be the class of the conference, with stalwarts like end William Gholston, linebackers Chris Norman and Denicos Allen and safety Isaiah Lewis. And on top of the talented starters, there is quality depth that may be unmatched.
Want more? Pat Narduzzi—who last year called his D “60 minutes of unnecessary roughness”–may be the top defensive coordinator in the Big Ten.
And Narduzzi’s unit even has a nickname: SpartanDawgs. Cute.
GOOD AT LINEBACKER: Speaking of defense, Michigan could have another good group, if a line that needs three new starters develops. But one area with seemingly no questions is the linebacker corps, led by Kenny Demens.
He is one of three starters back at linebacker under coordinator Greg Mattison. If the Wolverines want to fulfill preseason expectations of winning the school’s first Big Ten title since 2004, Demens and Co., must match the production of last year’s standout crew.
TWEETS THAT MATTER
My take: Bolden is a kid to watch. He graduated high school early and turned heads in the spring. He would really bolster and already stout Michigan linebacker corps.
My take: I may be guilty of jumping on the Nico Law bandwagon early. And, yes comparisons to Bob Sanders may be hasty. But, they sure are fun. The kid looks great.
My take: I hope reading this made you do a spit-take with your coffee. It did for me. But, I will freely admit: I find that ShamWow guy oddly fascinating. But, know this: He is no Billy Mays. God, I miss Billy. I can never buy another bottle of OxiClean.
BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is on Twitter and Facebook, all of his work is at btn.com/tomdienhart, and you can subscribe to it via his RSS feed. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below.
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