Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, October 10, 2014

Michigan coach Brady Hoke says the offense will use Devin Gardner a bit differently at quarterback this week. Why not? This team needs to try something different to break out of a 2-4 funk.

"As coaches, you look and you see 'well, maybe this is the kind of quarterback we need to have,' " Hoke said Wednesday night on his weekly radio show.?And do some things, maybe, a tad differently but still (within) the framework of the offense."

Don?t be shocked if Gardner runs a bit more and bootlegs when Penn State comes to town. It?s a way of dealing with blitzes Michigan often sees. In Gardner's career as a starting quarterback at Michigan, when he's rushed for 45 yards or more, Michigan is 6-1. Hmmmm.



Coming into the season, Michigan State had some questions on defense. One was at middle linebacker, where Max Bullough had to be replaced. Could Taiwan Jones do it? Well, he?s coming on.

"What flipped the switch, I don't know, but I'm happy it flipped," Michigan State linebackers coach Mike Tressel said. "The communication and knowledge had been there, but the energy level and confidence he exuded was at a whole different level.

"I think it made a difference on our whole defense."

Yep, I think Jones is gonna be special.


Big Ten fans may not like to read this, but the powerful SEC West could get three teams into the playoffs.


Minnesota has a big game this Saturday when Northwestern comes to town. But the Gophers likely will be without DB Derrick Wells, who is out with injury. Not good, considering how much NU likes to pass.

But Minnesota has some nice depth at corner. Besides Wells and fellow starter Eric Murray, the Gophers have Briean Boddy-Calhoun, who leads the team with two interceptions, and Jalen Myrick, who had a pick-six against Middle Tennessee State. Minnesota must slow down the NU pass game if it wants to prevail.


With Wes Lunt out, look for Illinois to alter its play-calling with Reilly O?Toole under center. It only makes sense.

And look for dynamic Aaron Bailey to also see some action, as coordinator Bill Cubit has said he could have some packages for him. Bailey isn?t going to redshirt. Illinois needs to find a way to utilize Bailey?s vast athletic ability. He?s a playmaker.


Got some hoops for you: Purdue has added Colorado State transfer Jon Octeus as a fifth-year transfer. Octeus will help the Boilermakers at the point, an area that is a potential concern. Who am I kidding? Point guard is a big concern in West Lafayette.

"Everybody we talked to raved about his work ethic and raved about his ability to defend," Matt Painter said. "If he's a hard-working guy and an every-day (work ethic) guy and has a good attitude, things will work well for him here."

Octeus started all 32 games last season for Colorado State and averaged 13-and-a-half points. He was likely going to start at point guard at UCLA this season as a fifth-year transfer before an admissions roadblock sent him packing.


Speaking of Purdue hoops, the team went through some Navy SEAL training in the fall that hopeful pays off for a program that is in one of its worst ruts in the last 50 years.

The SEALs left Purdue's players with an assignment: Create a creed to use as a mantra for the coming season. Players came up with: "NO BS."
Good, huh? But, wait: The meaning is two-fold. Aside from the obvious, it serves as an acronym: Never Operate Below Special.


That much-maligned Penn State offensive line? It?s developing. That?s good, because this offense needs a boost. The Nittany Lions rank No. 11 in the Big Ten in scoring (22.8 ppg). The rushing offense is No. 13 (101.0 ypg).

"Sometimes it's probably hard to see, but we've gotten better," offensive line coach Herb Hand said. "We have a standard that we want to play at as a unit, because we know the standards that are here at Penn State.?We are working hard to achieve those."


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.

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