Ask any coach, and he’ll tell you the most difficult spot to recruit is defensive line. It is very difficult to find players who are big AND quick. Teams that can build good lines typically have a shot to win league titles. Iowa is one of those teams. [ MORE: West offensive lines | West pass-catchers | West backfields | West predictions ] Here is my ranking of the Big Ten West defensive lines. 1. Iowa. It hurts not having ends Drew Ott and Nate Meier, who made for a formidable tandem. Still, there is lots to build on. Sophomore
The plaudits for the Michigan d-line began in the winter. And they continued in the spring to the point where some feel this front may not just be the best in the Big Ten … but maybe the best in the nation. [ MORE: East OL | East receiving corps | East backfields | East predictions ] Here is my ranking of the Big Ten East defensive lines. 1. Michigan. This could be the best line in the nation. Four seniors are slated to start with Taco Charlton and Chris Wormley on the ends and Maurice Hurst and Ryan Glasgow
Without a good quarterback, a team has little chance to enjoy a glorious season. The Big Ten will feature several good signal-callers in 2016, led by Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett. In fact, Barrett just may be the league’s best hope to win the Heisman. [ MORE: East OL | West OL | East pass-catchers | West pass-catchers | East backfields | West backfields ] Here is a ranking of the Big Ten’s top seven quarterbacks. 1. J.T. Barrett, Ohio State, Jr. No competition this fall. The job is Barrett’s, as he looks to capture his 2014 form, when he was
This time last year, few could have envisioned the historic season Iowa was about to enjoy. The Hawkeyes started the season 12-0, a first, and went to the Rose Bowl for the first time since the 1990 season after playing in their first Big Ten title game. This season shapes up well, too, beginning with a loaded backfield. [ MORE: West offensive lines | West pass-catchers | 2016 Big Ten West predictions ] Here’s my ranking of the offensive backfields in the Big Ten West. 1. Iowa. Things are looking good with QB C.J. Beathard back. The senior is coming
The personnel losses at Ohio State were significant after 2015. Heading the list of key departures: running back Ezekiel Elliott. How will the Buckeyes replace him? [ MORE: Big Ten East OL | Big Ten East receiving corps | Big Ten East predictions ] Michigan State can sympathize, as it has lost all-time great quarterback Connor Cook. Relax. Each school appears to have answers in its backfield. Here is a ranking of the Big Ten East offensive backfields. 1. Ohio State. It was a huge loss with RB Ezekiel Elliott declaring for the draft and going fourth overall. Who will
When you think of Nebraska, you think of ground-pounding offenses. Mike Riley wants to commit to the rush game in 2016. But, he’ll surely also want to take advantage of what looks like the top set of pass catchers in the West Division. [ MORE: Ranking Big Ten West offensive lines | 2016 Big Ten West predictions ] Here is my ranking of the Big Ten West pass-catchers. 1. Nebraska. No shortage of options for QB Tommy Armstrong with seniors Brandon Reilly, Jordan Westerkamp and Alonzo Moore leading the way. And speedy junior De’Mornay Pierson-El is back from injury. He
Having a strong running game is key to any team’s success. But a good passing game enhances any stout ground attack. And you need good wideouts to stretch the field. [ MORE: Ranking Big Ten East offensive lines | Big Ten East predictions ] This fall, there will be no shortage of good pass-catching options across the Big Ten East, headlined by Penn State. But Michigan’s corps also looks stout. Here’s my ranking of the receiving corps in the Big Ten East. 1. Penn State. Talent galore. And that’s good news for the new QB, most likely Trace McSorley. Juniors
I continue my look at Big Ten units with a ranking of the offensive lines in the Big Ten West. Once again, Iowa looks to have a stout front. But keep an eye on Wisconsin, whose front looks to be back up to its usual stellar form.
Last week, I posted an article on the top 5 defensive trios in the Big Ten. The list consisted of the top DL-LB-DB trio in the conference, and was highlighted by Ohio State.
A look at the special teams units in the Big Ten West begins in Lincoln, where the Cornhuskers boast a boffo punter (Sam Foltz), a deadly return man (De’Mornay Pierson-El) and an emerging kicker (Drew Brown).