Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, April 13, 2015

Over 76,000 people attended (and paid) to watch the Nebraska spring game on Saturday. It was impressive. What did they all learn? Not a lot.

Questions still loom on the offensive line and at linebacker. And who will rush the passer? But, as Steven Sipple of the Lincoln Journal Star notes, it seems likely that a committee approach will be used at running back.

The Huskers don?t have an Ameer Abdullah, but Imani Cross, Adam Taylor and Terrell Newby, among others.


Minnesota also had its spring game. And excitement continues to bubble around Jerry Kill?s program.

The offense has a no-huddle look going forward. Hey, ya have to try something to kick start an attack that remains a work in progress. The defense? It should be good again, led by a boffo secondary. And listen to what Jerry Kill had to saw about DE Hank Ekpe.

?He?s a freak of nature,? Kill said. ?He?s playing three times [better] than he did a year ago. The light bulb?s come on, just like David Cobb. There?s not many guys his size who can run a legitimate [4.6-second 40-yard dash]. He?s got a chance. He keeps working, he?ll play a lot of ball on Sundays.?


Iowa had an open practice Saturday. Did you notice the Hawkeyes? up-tempo defense?

In their first public action since being humiliated by Tennessee in the Jan. 2 TaxSlayer Bowl, the Hawkeyes' defensive unit played aggressively and held the offense to zero touchdowns and one field goal in more than an hour of scrimmaging in front of thousands of Hawkeye fans searching for signs of optimism at Valley Stadium.

"We looked good today," defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson told Chad Leistikow of


Maryland also punctuated its spring drills on Saturday, coming off a strong Big Ten debut in 2014. Here are some observations on the goings on.

Wideout Marcus Leak looked good. That?s good, because Stefon Diggs and Deon Long are gone. And QB Caleb Rowe needs a target.


It?s also a spring wrap at Northwestern, which is looking to end a two-year bowl drought. notes that Clayton Thorson really looks the part, but Saturday, there wasn't much noticeable separation between the redshirt freshman and his two competitors, Matt Alviti and Zach Oliver. All three looked solid but unspectacular. Ugh.


Protect the football. That will be the charge of Jake Rudock as he moves from Iowa to Michigan as a grad transfer.

"Coach Harbaugh is very energetic," Rudock said in an interview with Michigan's official website. "And I noticed right off the bat how involved he is in practices. I enjoyed our conversations, and one thing is for sure: When coach Harbaugh walks into a room, he changes the thermostat."

Nick Baumgardner of says Rudock will instantly enter a competition with junior Shane Morris, freshman Alex Malzone, redshirt freshman Wilton Speight and incoming freshman Zach Gentry. And he'll do so with more experience in his back pocket than all four of his competitors combined.


Montae Nicholson made a splash last year in the Michigan State secondary as a true freshman. He could be even better this year as a sophomore. Scary.


No more Gary Nova. That has star Rutgers wideout Leonte Carroo adjusting. And, it?s a big adjustment.

"It's a little weird," Carroo said. "He used to be my quarterback for eight years, so it was kind of weird at first. But I came back for my senior year, he's graduated, so I have to get used to being with another quarterback. Me and all the quarterbacks have a great relationship so I know it's going to be a great year."


A nice podcast on Penn State football from Dustin Hockensmith and Bob Flounders who get us caught up on the PSU position battles to watch ? among other things.

Speaking of Penn State, what question marks remain for James Franklin?

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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