Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, September 29, 2014
The Michigan State offense has been getting all of the headlines in East Lansing-and for good reason. The unit has been spectacular, averaging 50.3 points, the highest average through four games in program history. But Mike Griffith of Mlive.com points out the defense?s inconsistencies have been overshadowed because of the offensive fireworks.
This is not the Michigan State defense of yesteryear that was led by three-year starters like Max Bullough, Isaiah Lewis and Darqueze Dennard. Coordinator Pat Narduzzi described this 2014 group as "average" following spring drills, and he concluded in a school all-access video last spring that "nothing has impressed me about these guys right now.'?
I have to think this unit will round into shape at some point, right?
That off week for Ohio State seemed to do wonders for Buckeye QB J.T. Barrett, who looked very good in ripping up Cincinnati on Saturday.
"I think J.T. plays the game well when we're in that (up) tempo," Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman said after Ohio State's 50-28 win over Cincinnati. "Not to play amateur psychologist, but I think he is sometimes a bit of an over-thinker. So when you keep calling plays and let him run it, I think he does a good job because he doesn't over-think too many things."
This kid is only gonna keep improving.
Speaking of Ohio State, those three long passes allowed vs. UC were a bit eyebrow-raising for me. Buckeye co-DC Chris Ash breaks them down in this video from Cleveland.com. He isn't worried. Ash saw correctable issues that led to the three big pass plays Cincinnati hit during the Buckeyes win on Saturday.
I never get tired of watching this video of Jerry Kill reacting to the win over Michigan. Couldn?t happen to a better person or staff.
This win shows the growth and development of the Gophers? program in its fourth season under Kill.
The Gophers lost 58-0 at Michigan three years ago, Kill?s first season in Dinkytown. Kill?s team lost 42-13 in Ann Arbor last season.
Monster win for Northwestern on Saturday at Penn State. This is something NU can build on. And the Wildcats can thank their defense, which is pretty good and can be counted on to play well most weeks. The offense? The special teams? They aren?t as consistent or reliable.
Making its performance even more impressive, the Northwestern defense dominated Penn State while some of its stars sat out. Anthony Walker filled in at middle linebacker for Collin Ellis, and he starred. Walker led the team in tackles with eight and returned an interception 49 yards for a touchdown that put NU up 20-6 late in the game. Godwin Igwebuike also played a majority of the game with Ibraheim Campbell sidelined by injury. Igwebuike had four tackles and helped the secondary play the best coverage NU has seen all season.
The dynamic Pennlive.com duo of Bob Flounders and David Jones discusses Penn State?s brutal home loss to Northwestern in this video.
This is the type of performance some felt we would see from Penn State often in 2014. The offensive line looked bad and weak after holding up pretty well the first four games. With the line unable to run block or protect Christian Hackenberg, the offense floundered. And PSU looked bad. Really bad.
The losses are tough enough for Michigan?s Brady Hoke to deal with. Now, he?s also being scrutinized for his handling of injured quarterback Shane Morris in the Minnesota game.
The Michigan sophomore seemed to be dealing with left leg pain for a large stretch of the second half and appeared to have difficulty walking after Minnesota's Cameron Botticelli landed awkwardly on it in the fourth quarter. Hoke chose to leave him in the game. Two plays later, Morris got hit and dropped again. He got up limping, but Hoke again left him in the game. Things only got worse from there.
Those stereotypes about Indiana football? They were reinforced in that ugly home loss to Maryland.
David Woods of the IndyStar.com thinks that in some ways, this defeat was more dispiriting than the 45-42 loss at Bowling Green two weeks ago. Coming off a 31-27 victory at No. 18 Missouri, the Hoosiers generated hope. Hoosier Nation could ponder a 5-1 record heading into an Oct. 18 home game against No. 9 Michigan State.
Now? Lost hope. And nothing is worse than lost hope. Moving ahead, the narrative will be that the Hoosiers can't handle prosperity. Same old Hoosiers. "I felt like, as a team, we didn't come to play like we should have," quarterback Nate Sudfeld said.
|About Tom Dienhart||BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, 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.|
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