Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, August 9, 2013

Minnesota?s coaches hope the defense is dominant this fall. No doubt, but that rarely has happened in my lifetime. But, this unit has a chance to be decent, as the line and secondary look promising. The key? The development of the linebackers.

Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune points out that after going 3-9 and 6-7 the past two seasons, the Gophers owed much of their improvement to their defense. It allowed 31.7 points per game two years ago, 24.7 last year.

The Gophers need to replace five defensive starters - cornerbacks Michael Carter and Troy Stoudermire, linebackers Mike Rallis and Keanon Cooper, and defensive end D.L. Wilhite.

But the team feels it can take another step with the players coming back, and some key newcomers, including two junior college transfers at linebacker: Damien Wilson and De?Vondre Campbell.

BADGERS VS. LSU AT LAMBEAU: One more Badger note: Wisconsin will begin the 2016 season with a game vs. LSU in Lambeau Field. How cool is that gonna be?

It will be Wisconsin?s first game ever at Lambeau. That?s difficult to believe. I hope I?m there-but not wearing a cheesehead.

NU CAMP ROUNDUP: Wanna get caught up on Northwestern?s camp? Go here. You are welcome, Willie.

It's time to talk quarterback derbies. Here goes:

IOWA: My eyes continue to gravitate toward quarterback battles. Bryce Miller of says there is a slight leader in the three-man Iowa derby.

From Miller?s view from outside the locker room on the current order, tight as it is, based on everything from temperament to a fairly aggressive shake of the tea leaves, he has it thusly: 1) Jake Rudock; 2) Cody Sokol; 3) C.J. Beathard.

But don?t write that in pen.

MICHIGAN STATE: The battle for the Michigan State job continues.

Mike Griffith of says Spartans coach Mark Dantonio has already said State will play two quarterbacks this season for an indefinite amount of time.

"We're splitting their reps, letting them have equal opportunities," Dantonio said of senior Andrew Maxwell and redshirt-sophomore Connor Cook, "and Tyler O'Connor gets reps as well.

"Quarterback is about decision making. We'll decide that over a longer period of time."

One guy who may be out is true freshman Damion Terry, who appears to be swimming with so much to learn. It?s understandable, kid.

WISCONSIN: No quarterback race may be more interesting than the one at Wisconsin. Well, if you are looking for a bit of clarity in the battle between Joel Stave, Curt Phillips, Tanner McEvoy and Bart Houston, you will have to wait until Monday?s first scrimmage of training camp.

I think the race will come down to Stave and McEvoy. But that?s just me.

WOLVERINES IN ACTION: I asked BTN analyst Gerry DiNardo yesterday at lunch who he likes in the Legends. He said ?Michigan.? Well, here are some nice images of Michigan?s training camp workouts to help get you stoked for the season.

UP TO NEBRASKA'S FRONT: The defensive line is oh-so key for Nebraska. So far, Thad Randle, Randy Gregory and Maliek Collins are looking good.

Kevin Maurice, Kevin Williams, Jason Ankrah, Vincent Valentine, Aaron Curry and Brodrick Nickens also are battling. Gregory is the real freak. Keep an eye on him off the edge.

PLAY AGGRESSIVE, BOILERS: Nice video here of Purdue offensive line coach Jim Bridge talking about how he wants his unit to play with aggression.

The entire Boilermakers team needs to. It also needs to get tougher. And that always begins upfront.

SPEEDY INDIANA BACKS: Indiana hopes the track-and-field skills of some of its running backs translate into on-field production.

The guy to watch is RB Laray Smith, a speed demon from Staten, Island, N.Y.

?That speed is a premium,? running backs coach Deland McCullough said after a practice. ?People will be stunned when they see it. It?s a world-class thing to see. It?s like, ?Wow. Unbelievable.? ?


My take: Good point. Doug is a smart guy.

My take: Probably right.

My take: But we all know change is coming, right?

My take: Me, too! Well, not really.

My take: He needs to lead. This is his team.

My take: Yes, Iowa OC Greg Davis is gonna have a go-go attack. This is gonna be interesting.

My take: And I thought Penn State had a lot of tight ends.

My take: I can?t wait to see these running backs on the tour. Could be difference-makers.

My take: The unit lost a lot of talent from last year. DC Tim Banks has his work cut out for him.

About Tom Dienhart senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

And if you want to leave a comment on this post, use the box below. All comments need to be approved by a moderator.