Sandra Dukes-US PRESSWIRE
There is a sense of renewed optimism in West Lafayette with the dawn of the Darrell Hazell era. The former Kent State coach and long-time Ohio State assistant has built a strong staff and brought a winning attitude to Purdue. How quickly can he develop an offensive identity? That will be key in trying to get the Boilermakers to a third bowl in a row. Keep an eye on the quarterback battle and offensive line, the two biggest keys for 2013.
Indiana is a program on the rise as it enters its third season under Kevin Wilson. It also is a young program that’s still developing and lacking a strong senior core. Still, there is some excitement for a program searching for its first bowl since 2007. To take that next step, the Indiana defense needs to improve—a lot. Hope floats for a program that may be on the verge of turning the corner.
Larry Johnson is a fixture on the Penn State sideline. The defensive line coach has been with the Nittany Lions since 1996, and he’s had plenty of success. Under his tutelage, six defensive linemen have been selected in the first round of the NFL draft, including No. 1 pick Courtney Brown (2000). What makes his players so successful? Here’s what Johnson told our Howard Griffith: “My philosophy is very basic: Doing the simple stuff over and over again. Keep it small, keep it fun.”
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Victor Oladipo turned pro on Tuesday. It was Cody Zeller’s turn Wednesday. And, like Oladipo, Zeller made a wise choice. Zeller has accomplished a lot in two scant years in Bloomington, helping revive the Indiana program by leading it to its first outright Big Ten title in 20 seasons.
As expected, Cody Zeller joined Victor Oladipo in entering the NBA draft. Coupled with the graduations of Jordan Hulls and Christian Watford, the early departures mean Indiana will attempt to defend its Big Ten crown without its four leading scorers, and arguably best players.
Michigan came close to breaking through to the Big Ten title game last season in Year Two under Brady Hoke. But, alas, it didn’t happen—as a loss at Nebraska in which Denard Robinson got hurt proved to be detrimental. So, the program still is searching for its first Big Ten championship since 2004. It could come this season, if among other things, Devin Gardner proves to be the real deal and the defensive line develops. Yes, this is still a relatively young team, but it has lots of talent, potential and hunger as it begins life without Robinson, a Michigan icon.