Big Ten links: Iowa spring to-do list, Michigan QB race & more

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Big Ten links: Iowa spring to-do list, Michigan QB race & more

Chad Leistikow of HawkCentral.com has 10 things on Iowa’s spring to-do list.

Keep an eye on the linebackers, as Iowa has to replace second-leading tackler Cole Fisher on the weak side. On the outside, starter Ben Niemann is out for the spring.

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Michigan State has a “best kept secret.” And his name is Andrew Dowell, who is emerging at linebacker.

Dowell was the surprise of Michigan State’s camp last fall, and after earning playing time as a true freshman, he begins spring as a projected starter at linebacker, according to Mike Griffith of Mlive.com. The Spartans’ linebacking corps is the team’s strength, from a talent and depth standpoint, making Dowell’s rise even more impressive and unlikely. He’s easily the top candidate to “emerge” this spring among the previous non-starters.

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Remember when Penn State was loaded with tight ends? Guys like Jesse James, Adam Breneman and Kyle Carter? No more. Attrition has chipped away at this one-time strong area.

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The new Rutgers staff will need to determine who will be its QB: Hayden Rettig, Chris Laviano or Giovanni Rescigno. How will the staff pick its quarterback? Dan Duggan of NJ.com checks in.

New OC Drew Mehringer said it’s too early to handicap the quarterback competition. Mehringer’s power spread offense is much different than the pro-style offense Rutgers has historically run and he hasn’t installed much of the playbook through two practices.

“I think that’s something that we’ve been tracking statistically,” Mehringer said. “We look at, not only completion percentage and assignment-wise how has he been, but I think it’s also what does the off the field stuff look like for him because that’s going to tell us a lot about his leadership, his dedication and things like that. We’re going to measure their entire lives and when that decision process comes up, obviously Coach Ash is going to have the final say on that deal being the head guy.”

I have to think Laviano is gonna win this.

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Michigan also has a big question at quarterback. The spring game is this Friday.

It seems no one is leading the QB derby. But Nick Baumgardner of Mlive.com notes that third-year sophomore Wilton Speight had — at the very least — entered the recent week in front of juniors John O’Korn and Shane Morris. What’s that mean, exactly? Based on Jim Harbaugh’s comments after practice, it might not mean a whole lot. But it is notable. When camp started — and all the reps were, technically, still even — O’Korn was working first. So either he’s been out-played by Speight over the past few weeks or he’s had some slippage.

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Speaking of Michigan … Bama coach Nick Saban was asked recently if the thought the Wolverines gained much of an advantage with their spring trip to Florida.

“Yeah, I get it,” Saban said. “But I’m not sure that anybody really know the value of doing some of these things, whether it’s this or having off-campus camps all over the place.”
Exactly. Bottom line: You really can’t measure the effectiveness. I guess if Harbaugh wins a national title, we can call of his tactics “effective.”

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There was a survey to evaluate the athletic department’s leadership and culture at Nebraska. How much should we read into it? Tom Shatel of Omaha.com wonders. This is interesting, trying to read between the lines.

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So, who will be Ohio State’s best offensive skill player in 2016? Check out this video from Cleveland.com. After QB J.T. Barrett, the Buckeyes have a lot of questions.

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InsideNU.com has a good season in review series going for its hoop season.

Don’t you get the feeling that NU is on precipice of something good with guys like Vic Law, Dererk Pardon, Bryant McIntosh, Aaron Falzon and Sanjay Lumpkin, among others, back? I do.

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Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer

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, and send him questions to his weekly mailbag.

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