When the discussion of top Big Ten running backs comes up, Wisconsin’s Montee Ball almost always is mentioned first—and rightly so, coming off a spectacular 2011 that saw him be a Heisman finalist. Michigan’s Fitzgerald Toussaint and Michigan State’s Le’Veon Bell usually are mentioned next. And then there is Nebraska’s Rex Burkhead, who seemingly always gets lost in the conversation. The senior may be the top back in the Big Ten this season.
I’ve enjoyed answering questions in my mailbags since I started as BTN.com’s senior writer. Now that the 2012 football season is upon us, I’ll be posting them every Wednesday right through the Big Ten Championship.You can always send a question to me on this mailbag page 24/7 because we love to hear from fans. Don’t have a question but you do have a comment? I welcome those as well.
I have written much about the 2012 season, which starts on Thursday when Minnesota plays at UNLV. But before the first kickoff of the first game, I’m offering my look at how I think the Big Ten race will shape up this fall. My BTN.com colleague Brent Yarina did this on Monday to give you another perspective.
This is the first edition of a new weekly post where I will look at one key question for each team in a piece called: 12 Teams, 12 Questions. I’ll roll these out every Tuesday and look forward to hearing what you think about your team and your team’s games.
The BTN crew spent almost three weeks on the road travelling over 3,000 miles on visits to every Big Ten training camp. We saw a lot of football, talked to a lot of coaches and ate a lot of bananas and beef jerky on our super-deluxe tour bus that was tricked out with two color TVs, two fridges and Wi-Fi that sometimes worked and sometimes didn’t work. Two cases of Red Bull and a box of Twizzlers later, I put a punctuation mark on the 2012 BTN bus tour with a fun look at our circuitous journey from Lincoln to State College—and points in between.
Our annual summer journey across the Big Ten is over, and what a trip it was. From Lincoln, Neb., to State College, Pa., we saw all 12 Big Ten teams practice and had a chance to catch up with all the coaches and players. Read our tour coverage here and watch the video here.
The final stop on our annual summer football tour was Thursday, and we spent the day in Ann Arbor, Mich., checking out Brady Hoke’s talented Michigan team. I had many observations from the practice, none bigger than Denard Robinson looked more comfortable than ever under center. He’s such a dangerously quick athlete who can legitimately score any time he touches the ball. His skills were on full display today. But more importantly, Robinson looked better as a passer—when he was able to set his feet, which always is key for him.
We’re down to the final stop of the annual BTN summer football tour. Today, we’re taking in Michigan practice, and then we’re headed back home. It’s been an incredible trip across the Big Ten footprint, and it’s been great to see all the teams, all the coaches and all the campuses. Read all my tour coverage here and check out Thursday’s web links in this post.
The BTN Football Tour took us to Michigan State practice on Wednesday, and I watched for a number of things. First, quarterback Andrew Maxwell is looking good as he threw the ball well today. Maxwell also showed nice touch on his passes. And his arm looked good on passes down the sideline and on posts.
The BTN bus is heading south from East Lansing to Ann Arbor for the 12th and final stop on our grand tour of every Big Ten training camp. Watch the Michigan Preview Show at 10 p.m. ET Friday on BTN/BTN2Go.
Two stops remain on BTN’s annual summer bus tour. Today, we’re at Michigan State, the reigning Legends Division champ, and then we head to instate rival Michigan before heading back to Chicago. It’s been a fun journey across the Big Ten landscape. Read all my tour coverage here and check out Wednesday’s web links in this post.
The BTN bus heads back west, trekking toward East Lansing, Mich., where on Wednesday we will check out a white-hot Michigan State program that has won 11 games in each of the last two seasons. Watch the Michigan State Preview Show at 10 p.m. ET Thursday.
Throughout the seasons, I answer your Big Ten football and basketball questions in my Big Ten Mailbag. During the BTN summer bus tour, I’m fielding questions along our 3,000-plus mile trek across Big Ten country. We saw Ohio State practice Saturday (recap), and excited Buckeye fans sent me their questions. Read all of my answers to your latest Big Ten questions in this post. If you have a question, send it to me in the box at the bottom of this post or tweet it to me (@BTNTomDienhart). We’re at Penn State practice Monday (preview).
There were many things to watch at Ohio State today in what was as physical a practice as I have seen on our trip. The practice-ending scrimmage had the intensity of a game and featured a lot of hitting. I spent a lot of my attention focused on an offense since in 2011 Ohio State had the worst passing numbers in the Big Ten. Now, Urban Meyer has installed a spread scheme for a team that opened at No. 18 in the AP poll on Saturday.
Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase moves well, which he showed today in practice. He always has had good feet and is one of the more athletic signal-callers in the Big Ten. He also threw the short pass well, which is key in this spread offense that is predicated on quick decisions and intermediate toss.
The BTN bus heads west to Columbus, Ohio, to check in on Urban Meyer and Ohio State. Yes, the head coach gets billed over the school in this instance, as Meyer was the biggest coaching hire in the offseason. It will be fun to watch the swagger he brings to the field.
I’m still on the road with the Big Ten Football Preview Tour, and we’ll be taking in Illinois practice today. At 10 p.m. ET tonight, catch our Indiana Preview Show. Read all my coverage from the tour here. I’m also providing updates and photos via Twitter. Don’t forget to check out my colleagues @BTNDaveRevsine, @GerryDiNardo, and @HowardGriffith, too. Now, let’s get to my Friday links.
I’m still on the road with the Big Ten Football Preview Tour and we’re in Indiana today. Tonight at 10 p.m. ET you can catch our preview show on Purdue. This tour is keeping me busy as I preview each stop and recap each practice - it’s all over here. I’m also providing updates and photos via Twitter. Don’t forget to check out my colleagues @BTNDaveRevsine, @GerryDiNardo, and @HowardGriffith, too. Now, let’s get to my Thursday links.