Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, April 27, 2015

The Big Ten put the finishing touches on spring football over the weekend with Rutgers, Iowa, Michigan State and Wisconsin playing games. Here are some things I learned.

[ MORE: Relive all of our Big Ten spring football coverage ]

Iowa. This is quarterback C.J. Beathard?s team. And, he showed some leadership in an otherwise mixed bag of work on Saturday. Beathard hit 17-of-32 passes for 168 yards. Akrum Wadley looked good running the ball, notching 80 yards rushing on 13 totes. News that tight end Jake Duzey suffered a knee injury that likely will cause him to miss the start of the season hurts. But fellow tight end George Kittle has been one of the team?s most improved players, according to Kirk Ferentz. Still, are they any explosive playmakers on this offense? The offensive line still has work to do with new tackles in Boone Myers and Ike Boettger.

[ MORE: Watch a replay of the Iowa spring game on BTN2Go ]


Michigan State. The Spartans may have a good option at wideout in DeAnthony Arnett, who had five catches in the spring game for 51 yards. It also was hard not to be impressed with QB Connor Cook, who showed poised and guile working behind a makeshift line in hitting 11 passes for 105 yards. And he had no picks. The running game has work to do with Jeremy Langford gone, as Madre London and Gerald Holmes were OK. The defensive front seven should be great again, led by lynchpin end Shilique Calhoun and linebacker Riley Bullough. Calhoun was described as ?unblockable? by assistant Mark Snyder, while Bullough had a game-high seven tackles.

[ MORE: Watch a replay of the Michigan State spring game on BTN2Go ]


Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights are in search of a quarterback. And you had to be impressed with Chris Laviano, who hit 8-of-10 passes for 140 yards with two TDs in the spring game. And wideout Carlton Agudosi looked good with four grabs for 91 yards and two scores. TE Tyler Kroft will be missed but Nick Arcidiacono looks like a keeper. A deep corps of running backs continues to impress, led by Josh Hicks and Robert Martin. The staff likes safety Saquan Hampton, the most improved player on the defense. And the d-line could be as good as it was last season.

[ MORE: Watch a replay of the Rutgers spring game on BTN2Go ]


Wisconsin. I don?t care how you try to spin it, the offensive line could be worrisome. The unit is replacing three starters with relative greenhorns. And the depth is thin. The skill spots on offense look good, as Wisconsin is primed for some run-pass balance-which has been elusive of late. Joel Stave played briefly on Saturday but looks primed for a nice senior send-off. Gary Andersen?s option is gone in favor of a pro-style pass game and heavy running, a fit for Stave?s skills. Look for lots of passes to the backs. And there are some decent wideouts. Robert Wheelwright was a star on Saturday. Alex Erickson is the bellwether. Tight end Austin Traylor looks like an emerging weapon after being primarily a blocker. And the running backs are fine, led by Corey Clement. The defense is deep and fast up front. And is there a better OLB tandem in the Big Ten than Joe Schobert and Vince Biegel? It?s the inside linebackers that are the worry. Tanner McEvoy is now a full-time safety in a veteran secondary. He also will take some turns at wideout. He?s an intriguing player. Keep an eye on him.

[ MORE: Watch a replay of the Wisconsin spring game on BTN2Go ]

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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