Day 2 in the great state of Wisconsin is here, as we’ve left Madison and are in Kenosha to watch Pat Fitzgerald’s Wildcats practice Tuesday. You can catch the Wisconsin Preview Show at 10 p.m. ET Tuesday. Until then, check out these Big Ten web links.
GETTING BETTER UNDER CENTER: Minnesota quarterback MarQueis Gray is starting to show more composure in the pocket.
I noticed it when I watched the Golden Gophers practice last week. The fact he’s in his second season in the offense is huge. The senior has a calm and maturity about him that could go a long way toward him enjoying a banner second-off season.
RAVING ABOUT ROBY: Looking for the top young cornerback in the Big Ten? Look for further than Ohio State sophomore Bradley Roby.
With 4.3 speed—which makes him the fastest player on the Buckeye roster—Roby has shutdown capabilities that he flashed last year as a redshirt freshman. And it’s that speed—which will be used as a kickoff return man–that has some wondering if maybe he should be tried at receiver, a position Ohio State is in dire need of a playmaker.
BACK IN THE FOLD: Curtis Dukes is back with Penn State. And that may be attributed to his weekly Thursday night meetings last spring with coach Bill O’Brien.
The meetings focused on everything but football and allowed Dukes to get his academic house in order. Now, he’s primed to be one of the team’s top ball carriers along with Bill Belton.
LEWAN IS KEY: You may want to sit down before reading this: CBS thinks offensive tackle Taylor Lewan is Michigan’s most important player. Yes, more important than quarterback Denard Robinson.
Stunning. I’ve got nothing left to say. …
BOLD STATEMENT: Speaking of Denard Robinson, he says he could beat Olympic champion Usain Bolt in a 40-yard dash.
Let the debate rage—if this is worth debating. In the meantime, here’s video of Shoelace running a 60-yard dash.
FINDING NEW RECEIVERS: When potential fatal flaws are mentioned for Michigan State, most point to the receivers. Talents like B.J. Cunningham, Keith Nichol and Keshawn Martin have departed. But the new corps of wideouts is taking shape.
The top four of Bennie Fowler, Tony Lippett, Keith Mumphery and Andre Sims has been looking good, according to Spartan receivers coach Terry Samuel. Tennessee transfer DeAnthony Arnett and Jeremy Langford would round out what ideally would be a group of six wideouts for new quarterback Andrew Maxwell.
MEET MRS. KILL: In case you missed this, it’s a good profile of Jerry Kill’s wife, Rebecca.
An interesting read. Two things caught my eye. Mrs. Kill has a Rolodex that includes information on each player that she studies so she has talking points with each player. Also, Coach Kill told his football operations man to call his wife—not 911—if Coach Kill has any health issues.
NOT BUYING IT: A running backs curse? At Iowa? Projected starting sophomore running back Damon Bullock isn’t buying it.
Injuries and transfers have wrecked the corps. Marcus Coker and Mika’il McCall transferred after last season, and Jordan Canzeri suffered a knee injury. Want more? DeAndre Johnson recently was booted from the team for running into legal issues.
Now, the job belongs to Bullocks, but don’t be shocked if freshmen Barkley Hill and Greg Garmon—along with former fullback Brad Rogers–play big roles.
FREDRICK IMPRESSES: The Wisconsin coaches have liked what they have seen out of redshirt freshman wideout Jordan Fredrick.
At 6-3, 215, he’s a big, physical wideout who showed a knack for blocking in the practice I watched yesterday in Camp Randall Stadium. Fredrick also can make an impact catching the ball for what could be a deep and talented corps of receivers.
Who is going to be throwing the ball to Fredrick and Co.? Stay tuned.
ILLINOIS PREDICTIONS: What kind of team will Illinois have? Veteran Champaign News-Gazette columnists Loren Tate has no idea.
It’s not his fault. New Fighting Illini coach Tim Beckman is keeping a tight lid on things and limiting access.
POSSIBLE REASON FOR LEAVING: News that star left offensive tackle Tyler Moore had left Nebraska was a shocking blow. And many feel Moore left because he clashed with line coach Barney Cotton, a man who already seemingly was under fire for a line that hasn’t played at a consistently top level in recent years.
PURDUE GETS CREATIVE: You have to give Purdue coach Danny Hope an ‘A’ for creativity. He recently simulated halftime in an effort to get his team to respond better coming out of intermission.
How much did Purdue struggle in the third quarter last season? It was held scoreless six times and was outscored 79-36. To that end, Hope will bring his team to the locker room for a 15-18 minute break during workouts and then return to the practice field.
I like it!
RANKING NATION’S BEST: The great Mike Huguenin of Yahoo! Sports ranks the top 10 players in college football. And, yes, the Big Ten is represented.
TWEETS THAT MATTER
I just figured with all the depth at WR why not redshirt Westerkamp? Why waste it for fewer than 10 catches.—
Mike'l Severe (@MikelSevere) August 14, 2012
My take: This may not be a bad idea. When I watched Nebraska practice, I was impressed with the depth at wideout—Kenny Bell, Jamal Turner, etc. Westerkamp could be a special player in a few years. A year of growth would be great.
My take: This speaks volumes for how good these players are if they play as true freshman, because this Spartan team already has lots of veterans and depth.
James Ferentz isn't the Big Ten's top center with regard to NFL potential, but he is the center I'd want leading me through a dark alley.—
Pat Harty (@PatHarty) August 13, 2012
My take: I agree. He is a tough guy with a big heart. The day I watched practice, he impressed with his intensity and leadership. No doubt, he will be the anchor of what could be a very good line.
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