Friday links: Gardner's test, MSU QBs & more

Happy Friday! Let’s all meet at Cha Chi’s after work for some potato zingers! OK, let’s not. But let’s at least take this time to discuss some Big Ten headlines, OK? If Michigan is going to beat Notre Dame, QB Devin Gardner has to have a good game. That mean he has to avoid the picks, of which he had two last week … vs. a directional school.

Heck, if not for turnovers—hello, Denard Robinson!–Michigan likely beats ND last year. Nick Baumgardner of Mlive.com notes that the Wolverines held the ball longer than the Fighting Irish during last season’s 13-6 loss in South Bend. They rushed for more yardage (161-94). They outgained Notre Dame in general (299-239).

But, as the galaxy knows, Robinson threw four interceptions and coughed up a fumble, and Vincent Smith botched a halfback pass near the goal line.

While it’s easy to focus on Gardner and his battle with ND quarterback Tommy Rees, keep an eye on the matchup between Irish defensive end Stephon Tuitt and Wolverines offensive tackle Taylor Lewan. All-American vs. All-American. It doesn’t get any better, people.

***

The great Mike Griffith of MLive.com says all indications are that Michigan State will change its quarterback rotation with Connor Cook and Tyler O’Connor likely seeing the most action among Spartans signal-callers vs. South Florida on Saturday.

Griffith thinks Andrew Maxwell still may start. Still, Griffith thinks it may be time to try something different. And, he’s correct. Griffith points out that Michigan State has proven it doesn’t have good enough receivers to rely on a conventional pocket passer and a high-percentage pass attack. So, if the receivers aren’t going to catch the ball, it only makes sense that Michigan State’s offense can’t rely on a pocket passer like Maxwell. It doesn’t make any difference how well Maxwell reads the defense or makes decisions if the receivers the Spartans can’t get open and can’t catch the ball.

[ MORE: Enter the Buffalo Wild Wings Trip to the Football Championship Sweepstakes ]

So the question becomes, which quarterbacks give you the best chance to win with receivers that can’t be counted on to catch the ball or get open against tight coverage? The quarterbacks who can run. And, that’s O’Connor and Cook.

Bingo!

***

Nice video here from HawkCentral.com that looks back at Iowa’s loss to Northern Illinois and ahead to the Missouri State game with Andrew Logue and Rick Brown of the Des Moines Register. Hey, I was encouraged by what I saw in Iowa City last week. This still may be a bowl team.

***

One issue for Nebraska’s defense? Communication before and after the snap between safeties Harvey Jackson, Andrew Green and Corey Cooper.

“There were some situations in pass coverage where there wasn’t enough communication to realize where help was at,” safeties coach Terry Joseph told Omaha.com. “That’s the biggest thing back there.”

[ MORE: View our Big Ten football standings page ]

Yes, well, when you allow 602 yards to Wyoming, I think issues have to go beyond just communication between the safeties, right?

But one thing all agree on: The killer work ethic of running back Imani Cross.

This guy is an NFL back waiting to happen.

***

I started to get excited about Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon last season. But we only got glimpses of him, as Gordon was behind Montee Ball. Now, with Ball gone, we got to see the full fury of Gordon last week. And, it was a beautiful thing.

How good is the long-striding sophomore gonna be?

***

There was much to like about Penn State’s win over Syracuse last week. But one thing that must improve is the running game. Bob Flounders and Nick Horvath Jr. discuss it in this Pennlive.com video.

The Nittany Lions ran for just 57 yards vs. the Orange. Heck, Franco Harris used to get that in warm ups. But, honestly, it’s not like Penn State couldn’t run. That really wasn’t the plan of Bill O’Brien. Trust is BOB. Believe me. He knows what he’s doing.

***

Another week, another 3-3-5 defense for Ohio State to contend with. I think the Buckeyes will be fine vs. San Diego State, which allowed a whopping 533 yards to FCS Eastern Illinois.

***

Former Minnesota A.D. McKinley Boston is the A.D. at New Mexico State, which plays the Gophers this Saturday. And, he thinks the Aggies will be a challenge for the Gophers. I think he’s correct.

NMSU lost 56-7 to Texas last week. But new coach Doug Martin is savvy—and he faced Jerry Kill when Martin coached Kent State, so he’s familiar with Minnesota’s schemes. Here is a nice story on that.

***

TWEETS THAT MATTER

My take: We have “chaos” and “biker bar” in the same Tweet. This is a winner!

My take: This will be a great test for Wisconsin on Sept. 14 in Tempe.

My take: As I said before, not going live in practice on special teams is why we see so many big/bad plays on special teams early in the season.

My take: Bravo! I think.

My take: I still am stunned a kid would pick a school based on uniforms. Wow.

***

About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

And if you want to leave a comment on this post, use the box below. All comments need to be approved by a moderator.

Find out more about:

0 Comments

Your Opinion?
Show Comments (No Comments)

Comments are closed.