Monday links: Kings' breakout, Kill's health & more

Ohio State sent a big message on Saturday with an impressive comeback win at Northwestern. Well, Michigan State also sent a message with its big victory at Iowa that was sparked by a resurgent offense. Here, I’ll let Spartan receiver Macgarrett Kings Jr., deliver the message for the Legends Division: “We’re coming at you.”

If the MSU offense keeps operating like it did in Iowa City, the Spartans just may win the Legends.

Mike Griffiths of Mlive.com says the evolution of Michigan State’s passing game — from atrocious to adequate — has paralleled Kings being on the receiving end of more targets. Griffiths says Kings continues to lead the Spartans in receptions (18), yardage (230) and touchdowns (3) even though he wasn’t a starting receiver at the beginning of the year.

So, in just one month, Kings has become Michigan State’s go-to receiver, in the eyes of the coaches, his teammates and even the fans.

***

Minnesota A.D. Norwood Teague says of Jerry Kill’s latest seizure: “It concerns me for him.”

“I talked to (university president) Dr. (Eric) Kaler,” Teague said. “He’s concerned about it, but he also knows that it’s a moving target.”

Teague added: “It concerns me for him. I want him to get better at managing it.”

But Marcus Fuller wonders (and me, too) what can Kill do more than he already has? He got hooked up with epilepsy specialist Dr. Ilo Leppik last year. He’s been trying to regulate his medication since then. He’s eating better. He’s exercising. He’s staying hydrated. Is he experiencing stress? Sure. Is he not getting enough sleep? Maybe.

It just seems things are getting worse—not better.

***

Nebraska flashed an impressive rushing attack in a dominating win over Illinois on Saturday. This may be something the Huskers want to rely on.

Yes, the Husker ground game was impressive. But remember: This was Illinois. It’s defense? Uh, it’s not too good. Nebraska QB Tommy Armstrong, Jr. is good. But, comparing him to Huskers legend Tommie Frazier? Really?

***

Michigan’s offense has a new dimension, with Devin Funchess playing half tight end and half receiver. Call it whatever you want: It was effective.

“The coaches just told me what to do,” Funchess said. “And I just did it.”

Yep. The results spoke for themselves. Seven catches for 151 yards and a touchdown vs. Minnesota.

***

The education of Christian Hackenberg continues.

The Penn State true freshman phenom showed his youth in the loss at Indiana. But he showed his considerable skills, too. How good is this guy gonna be?

“I feel like I left a couple of plays out on the field that I could have done a little bit better and maybe would have been able to change the outcome,” Hackenberg said. “But you gotta move on, gotta get better, lot of credit to Indiana.”

Bob Flounders of Pennlive.com says the Indiana effort may not define the season. It had better not or the Lions might not win another game. But it serves as an indicator that Penn State is nowhere near ready to challenge the conference’s best teams. The defense is not ready. The special teams’ play must improve.

Playing with sixtysomething scholarships is catching up to Penn State. Makes me wonder if this week’s visit from Michigan could get ugly.

***

Doug Lesmerises and his partners at Cleveland.com have 15 observations from Ohio State’s big win at Northwestern.

Chief among the observations: Ohio State made Northwestern largely ineffective on third downs. And the defensive line dominated by putting pressure on the NU quarterbacks. Here is an observation from me: Braxton Miller has a great shot to get hurt again if he continues to carry a massive load.

This is a perfect summation of Braxton Miller’s effort at Northwestern: He looked out of synch at times but delivered when the chips were down.

But, again, that workload. You just know another possible injury is lurking.

***

Pat Harty of HawkCentral.com has another edition of Mr. Optimist and Mr. Pessimist.

I like this one:

Mr. Optimist: Iowa is heading into a bye week, which means it has two weeks to heal and prepare for the Oct. 19 game at Ohio State.

Mr. Pessimist: Ohio State also is headed into a bye week, not that it would really matter, considering the Buckeyes have a 29-8-1 record against Iowa in Columbus.

***

Minnesota needs this coming bye week to get its secondary healthy.

Defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys said if the Gophers had to play Sunday, they would be without four defensive backs. Cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun was already out for the season with a knee injury. But safety Cedric Thompson (possible concussion), cornerback Derrick Wells (shoulder) and cornerback Martez Shabazz (knee) were banged up in Saturday’s 42-13 loss against Michigan, says Marcus Fuller of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

“We have enough safeties that if we need to move somebody else back out there, we need to do it by Tuesday,” Claeys said. “I don’t know who it would be. (Senior safety) Brock (Vereen) has played there before. We’ve got some decisions to make. It’s part of the game.”

***

Bob Flounders of Pennlive.com has his report card for Penn State’s loss at Indiana. And, Mommy isn’t gonna be happy when she sees it.

***

Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free-Press shares what he learned about Michigan over the weekend.

About that Wolverine running game, it still hasn’t gained traction. Snyder notes changing the offensive line, alternating backs with Derrick Green spelling Fitz Toussaint, and committing to the run with 35 attempts (of the 52 plays) still weren’t enough for big numbers (only 113 yards) against Minnesota. U-M averaged only 3.2 yards per carry. For Michigan to make an impact in Big Ten play, that needs to improve.

This team has to run better as the competition stiffens this season.

TWEETS THAT MATTER

My take: Foreshadowing? Could we see these teams meet in the Big Ten title game?

My take: If Nebraska has to go with Tommy Armstrong, that’s not a totally bad thing, is it?

My take: Agreed. I thought the Ohio State secondary wouldn’t spring so many leaks. Still, I’d rather had a good run defense.

My take: No doubt, an in-season firing at a MAC school? Really?

My take: No doubt about that.

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.

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NU fan in MKE. on 10/7/2013 @ 12:52pm EST Said:

Is MN going to wait until Kill dies, as what happened with Randy Walker. MAYBE, if Randy had retired after that first heart attack, maybe he;d still be with us.