BTN.com staff, April 20, 2014
Only three Big Ten spring games remain, as Iowa, reigning Big Ten and Rose Bowl champ Michigan State and Rutgers are still conducting spring practices. That means 11 teams have wrapped up spring drills and have their eyes set on the 2014 season. What did Tom Dienhart learn from the spring sessions? Find out in this post.
There are nice options at quarterback. The candidates include Aaron Bailey, Oklahoma State transfer Wes Lunt and experienced backup Reilly O?Toole. But in the end, it will be a shock if Lunt isn?t the starter. He has the look of a big-time passer with all the requisite skills. And while he didn?t look great in the spring game-hitting 6-of-16 passes for 99 yards-Lunt had a very good spring and is equipped to run Bill Cubit?s offense. It didn?t help the quarterbacks? cause that tight ends Matt LaCosse and Jon Davis sat out with injury along with wideout Mike Dudek, who had been a spring star. Read full Illinois spring wrap.
Indiana has perhaps the best quarterback duo in the Big Ten. Who am I kidding? The tandem has no peer, for what it?s worth. Nathan Sudfeld and Tre Roberson are both capable signal-callers with varying skill sets who can start and excel. Sudfeld had an outstanding spring, showing his usual big arm. Roberson is an underrated passer with electric athletic skills. Who will start? Stay tuned. Read full Indiana spring wrap.
The running back slot remains open. Who will win the job? It wasn?t decided in the spring. Brandon Ross (four carries for 90 yards), Albert Reid (14 carries for 79 yards), Jacquille Veii (nine carries for 75 yards) and Joe Riddle (five carries for 48 yards) all saw action in the spring game. Ross has been the starter in the recent past, ripping off a 75-yard scoring run in the spring game. Veii was a spring surprise. Read full Maryland spring wrap.
This will be Michigan?s fourth season under Brady Hoke. And, make no mistake about it: It?s a crossroads campaign. No one in Ann Arbor was satisfied with the 7-6 record last season. And heads rolled, as offensive coordinator Al Borges was fired. Hoke looked to Alabama for a replacement, tabbing Crimson Tide offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier. Read full Michigan spring wrap.
The offense didn?t look good in the spring game. In fact, it struggled, scoring just one touchdown along with four field goals. That?s it. But, take everything that happens in the spring with the proverbial grain of salt, as many key players were limited or didn?t partake. With Philip Nelson off to Rutgers, the quarterback job rests squarely with Mitch Leidner, who hit 7-of-15 passes for 74 yards in the spring game. Is he capable? He needs to show that he?s competent as a passer for an offense that ranked last in the Big Ten in passing in 2013. Keep an eye on early enrollee signal-caller Dimonic Roden-McKinzy, who looks good. Read full Minnesota spring wrap.
Tommy Armstrong entered the spring with something to prove; and he looked solid. The rising sophomore especially looked good executing the zone read. Perhaps most vital: Armstrong showed some swagger, a commodity every good quarterback must possess. Johnny Stanton and Ryker Fyfe also looked good on Saturday. Who is No. 2? Gotta love the competition. So, this should quell any questions that fans have about the Nebraska signal-callers, right? In fact, some Husker watchers think the quarterback spot hasn?t been in this good of shape since ?2001? Read full Nebraska spring wrap.
The offensive line disappointed in 2013. There?s no sugarcoating it. From the good news/bad news department: Every player on the two-deeps from last season?s front is back. But improvement is needed. Center Brandon Vitabile is the unquestioned anchor who must not only excel on the field but needs to help fill a yawning leadership void on this team. No questions in the pivot. But those flanking Vitabile must improve, beginning with left tackle Paul Jorgensen. Stay tuned. Read full Northwestern spring wrap.
As far as dress rehearsals go, this one was a success ? I guess. The final score said Gray 17, Scarlet 7. Not sure what it really means. But, it doesn?t really matter now, does it? These spring games are equal parts glorified practices/pep rallies/excuses to tailgate. But, who cares? It?s a celebration of football. And, that?s OK in my book. Let?s give today?s sun-splashed Buckeye spring game a sideways thumb?s up. Meh. Read full Ohio State spring wrap.
Penn State?s already loaded backfield may have another weapon. Preferred walk-on Cole Chiappialle could be added to the mix to go along with the likes of Zach Zwinak (who was held out of the spring game), Akeel Lynch and Bill Belton. Time and again, PSU used a Wildcat formation that saw Chiappialle take a direct snap and bolt up field. It was quite effective, as the Wildcat was a scheme used often by Franklin when he was at Vanderbilt. Chiappiale had nine carriers for 63 yards with two touchdowns. The 5-8 Beaver Falls, Pa., native is a cult hero waiting to happen. Read full Penn State spring wrap.
The offense has been transformed. The attack that often used tight formations with multiple tight ends and backs is now an offense with more shot gun, three-wide and single-back looks with tight ends off the line. The development of quarterbacks Danny Etling and Austin Appleby is what has precipitated the change in philosophy by coordinator John Shoop. Make no mistake about it: Etling is the No. 1 signal-caller. He flashed potential when thrown into the fire as a true freshman in 2013. Read full Purdue spring wrap.
The new-look defense showed potential. Coordinator Dave Aranda has built a smaller, quicker, sleeker defense. Why? He wants to be able to attack from a variety of different spots and in a number of different ways. It?s all about getting after the quarterback. Wisconsin couldn?t be as aggressive last year because the personnel didn?t fit such a package/philosophy. But, that?s changing. In the spring game, the Badgers blitzed a variety of ways, bringing cornerbacks and the like. The defense even has a 2-4-5 nickel package, which wants to make offenses guess who is coming and who is covering. Read full Wisconsin spring wrap.