Hopes are high in Champaign, as Illinois takes the wraps off the Lovie Smith era. Will he be the coach to deliver a consistent winner to the Illini Nation? Smith arrives from the NFL with a big reputation, but he will be Illinois’ fifth coach since 1997 following Ron Turner, Ron Zook, Tim Beckman and Bill Cubit. The defensive line looks strong, and Dave Revsine believes running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn is going to be one of the top breakthrough players in the conference this season. Here is what I’ll be looking for at Illinois practice. 1. How is offensive line
The BTN Tour bus was in Wisconsin on Monday to check out the Badgers. Paul Chryst enters his second season as the Badgers' head coach and should have a team capable of competing for a Big Ten West title in 2016.
Pat Fitzgerald has Northwestern on a roll coming off a 10-win season. And the Wildcats look poised to keep thriving. But some issues needs to be resolved. Will the pass game improve? Are there any pass rushers in the house? [ MORE: @BTNStatsGuys: 5 fun Northwestern facts ] Here is what I’ll be watching for at NU practice. 1. Defensive line. Two big holes at end with Dean Lowry and Deonte Gibson gone. Lowry helped NU rank No. 6 in the Big Ten in rushing defense (126.2 ypg). He was a consensus second-team All-Big Ten selection after ranking second on
The BTN bus tour rolled into Madison, Wisconsin, on Monday, to watch Paul Chryst's second Badgers' team practice. See what BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart learned while watching practice inside.
Time to answer some mail! How good are the Minnesota linebackers? Will Michigan topple a rival this season? Is David Blough the answer to Purdue’s QB ills? I look at those questions and more. I have been impressed by Minnesota’s linebackers and think they will be among the best in the Big Ten. What do you think? – Bill White I like the Gopher linebackers when I watched the team scrimmage last Saturday. Jack Lynn has All-Big Ten potential, and Cody Poock is a tough player who excels vs. the run. Jonathan Celestin rounds out the unit. He’s a nice
MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota has its most talented team—and perhaps its best–since Tracy Claeys arrived in Dinkytown in 2011. [ MORE: Dienhart: Here’s what I learned at Minnesota practice ] Yes, this roster still lacks top-end depth across the board. But there is plenty of speed and athleticism, along with size. It was on display on Saturday in a tough, hard-hitting scrimmage in TCF Bank Stadium. Get my fun takes from Minneapolis below. Most impressive player: LB Jack Lynn is a physical force who covers a lot of ground. He may end up being an All-Big Ten player. Also have to
The BTN bus tour hit Minneapolis on Saturday, and our crew was able to take in the Golden Gophers' scrimmage at TCF Bank Stadium. See what BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart learned inside.
What will Paul Chryst do for an encore after a strong debut that saw him win 10 games? It will be interesting. He lost a great defensive coordinator in Dave Aranda, who left for the same post at LSU, and must replace veteran quarterback Joel Stave. Here is what I’ll be watching for at Monday’s practice. 1. Are the Badgers OK at QB? Who is it gonna be with Joel Stave gone? It’s a clash between Bart Houston, who will be a fifth-year senior, and Alex Hornibrook, who redshirted as true freshman last year. Houston has more experience and played
The Minnesota program is on solid footing, having been to a bowl each of the last four seasons as Tracy Claeys assumes command. But the staff has been altered. Still, there is momentum coming off a bowl win that capped a disappointing 6-7 season. Claeys let go offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Matt Limegrover and quarterbacks coach Jim Zebrowski. Jay Johnson was hired from Louisiana-Lafayette to run the offense and coach quarterbacks, while Bart Miller was tabbed to coach the line. Here is what I’ll be watching at Minnesota practice. 1. Is the offense clicking? More run-pass balance is needed for
The letters are flowing in as I am on the road for the Big Ten camp tour. I have questions about Penn State’s depth, Michigan State’s ability to develop talent and Michigan’s chances to beat Ohio State this season, among others. Let’s go!