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There is still so much to talk about, with spring football winding down and the NFL draft in full swing. Can Illinois win? What’s up with expansion? What’s the deal with football ticket prices? Time for me to reach into my mailbag.
Two years into the Jerry Kill era, and progress at Minnesota is tangible. The Golden Gophers went from 3-9 in 2011 to 6-7, earning a bowl bid. The next step: move out of the basement of the Legends Division and win a postseason game for the first time since 2004. Year Three has been a charm for Kill at his last two stops, going 10-3 at Northern Illinois and 10-2 at Southern Illinois. To continue that trend in Dinkytown, big keys will be developing some big-play ability on offense and tightening the defense vs. the run. And the special teams need lots of improvement. This is an underrated coaching staff that’s capable of doing it all.
Apparently, Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner and wideout Jeremy Gallon have some good chemistry and mojo. Check out this video posted by Gardner on his Twitter account of him hitting Gallon with a pass—with his eyes closed.
Pretty neat deal here: A U.S. Senator honored Jack Hoffman with a resolution that was adopted by unanimous consent that notes pediatric brain cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths among children. Of course, little Jack gained fame for his brilliant 69-yard touchdown run in the Nebraska spring game earlier this month.
There is a sense of urgency in Iowa City, as the Hawkeyes look to rebound from the school’s worst season since 2000. There has been plenty of work to do on both sides of the ball, but the offense has the most heavy lifting. Except for running back and line, Iowa has questions on offense. The defense? A search for playmakers up front is on. That has made this an interesting spring for the Hawkeyes, as Kirk Ferentz begins his 15th season on campus.
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The NFL draft is here. Hallelujah! But, Thursday night’s opening round may not be a joyous occasion for the Big Ten. In fact, the league may not have a first-round choice for the first time since—are you sitting down?–1953. Gulp. Yes, that’s 60 years.
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It was a surprise to see news that Steven Bench is transferring from Penn State. He appeared to be in the thick of the quarterback chase to replace Matt McGloin, competing with JC transfer Tyler Ferguson along with walk-ons D.J. Crook and Austin Whipple this spring.
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BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart spends a big portion of his days on Twitter. While reading all the latest Big Ten tweets, Dienhart enjoys offering his opinion and thoughts on some of his favorite ones. See today’s collection of tweets in this post.
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The NFL draft starts on Thursday night, with the highly anticipated first round, and more than 20 Big Ten players figure to be selected by the time the draft comes to an end Sunday.
That recent grant of rights agreement inked by ACC schools apparently has stuck a fork in expansion, Big Ten commish Jim Delany said at an on-going gathering of college commissioners.
Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald is the king of the measured statement sprinkled with a heavy-dose of “we just have to improve” coachspeak.
Everyone associated with the Iowa football program would love to forget the 2012 season. It was a struggle all around, in pretty much every facet, as the Hawkeyes finished 4-8 and missed out on a bowl game for the first time since 2007. Can this year’s new-look team get back to the postseason? BTN.com’s Tom Dienhart and Brent Yarina offer their thoughts in this post.
Iowa has produced some great offensive linemen under Kirk Ferentz. In fact, since 2003, 13 Hawkeye offensive linemen have been drafted—guys like Robert Gallery, Bryan Bulaga and Riley Reiff, among others. Who is the next great one? Check out tackle Brandon Scherff. In fact, I wonder if Scherff may be Iowa’s most talented player on offense. Think about it.
News that the ACC announced a grant of rights agreement may put the kibosh on conference realignment, including any future plans the Big Ten may have had. The grant of rights agreement pledges a school’s media rights to a conference for a set number of years. If a school leaves a conference under those terms, it would forfeit those rights to the former conference.
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The way Northwestern finished the 2012 season, culminating in the program’s first bowl win since the 1948 Rose Bowl, coupled with the fact it returns much of its skill position talent, expectations are quite high in Evanston. In fact, some are wondering if the Wildcats – yes, the Wildcats – have what it takes to play for their first Big Ten title since 2000. Do they? BTN.com’s Tom Dienhart and Brent Yarina discuss in this post.
Wisconsin took its next big step in the new Gary Andersen regime today in the spring game. Many key players sat out the game, but the Badgers debuted their new 3-4 defensive scheme. And the offense came out throwing for a unit that needs to find a quarterback and some playmaking receivers. Here are some observations.
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Michigan State entered spring drills with few big questions on defense. In fact, the Spartans may have the Big Ten’s top defense—again. But the offense still has some big questions to answer after the spring game today. Here are some observations.
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Penn State took its next steps forward in Year Two under Bill O’Brien. In the spring game, there were signs of many things to build on going forward, including a strong offensive line, nice collection of skill players on offense and a veteran secondary. Here are some observations from today’s spring game.
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Time to reach into my Big Ten mail bag. With spring football winding down, gridiron is on the minds of many of you. So, let’s get started. Oh, and thanks for all of the terrific virtual cards and letters. Great stuff!
Wisconsin begins a new era after Gary Andersen was hired from Utah State as the Badgers program’s third coach since 1990. Andersen inherited a full cupboard after Bret Bielema bolted for Arkansas, so the new coach’s task is a bit easier as he pursues the program’s fourth Big Ten title in a row. But issues must be settled, beginning with the quarterback and secondary. Some work was accomplished this spring, but more remains.
Much was made last year about Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez working with quarterback guru Steve Calhoun in southern California. But, the results were good. Well, Martinez will be back at it in May, looking to further hone his technique for a big senior season send-off.
The Illinois offense was broken in 2012. How bad was it? The Fighting Illini ranked 11th in the Big Ten in rushing (127.8 ypg); 11th in passing (168.8 ypg); last overall (296.7 ypg); last in scoring (16.7 ppg) during a 2-10 debut season for Tim Beckman that saw the Illini finish 0-8 in the Big Ten.