Friday mailbag: Iowa's Moeaki to return
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Dave from Brooklyn writes: Actually, i just read Toni Moeki was a junior last year so i think he'll be back. Now, am I the only one who thinks he could be darn good if he stays healthy?
Adam Rittenberg: An Iowa official confirmed that Moeaki will be back for 2009, which could give the Hawkeyes another weapon in an improved receiving corps. Health obviously is the major concern with Moeaki, who just can't catch a break (no pun intended) on that front. I remember seeing him in the 2007 opener against Northern Illinois in Chicago and thinking he could be really good. But then the injuries started to crop up. Moeaki is one of those top recruits from 2005 who hasn't really panned out. If Iowa wants to make a run at the league title, it needs to finally tap the potential from the fifth-year seniors in that heralded class.
Greg from Washington D.C. writes: Hey Adam, I was wondering if you think Darryl Clark or Evan Royster will get any love in the Heisman race this year or anyone else from Penn State in the years to come. I can't believe Penn State has only one Heisman winner...I think they are due for another one ;) Also with losses at DE do you think PSU will run a 3-4 defense this year? If I'm not mistaken...in the past I saw that PSU liked to put Jerome Hayes on the line in a stand up position...? Keep up the good work!
Adam Rittenberg: Penn State is certainly due, and you have to wonder how a powerhouse program with so much national exposure has produced only one Heisman winner (John Cappelletti). I'm not big on gimmicks, but maybe the program doesn't do enough to promote its star players. It seems very un-Paterno-like. ... OK, onto your question. Daryll Clark could get a sniff for the Heisman if he continues to upgrade his game with a new receiving corps. I love Royster, but Heisman candidates need to get the ball more than 14.7 times a game (as Royster did last fall).
Penn State has some flexibility with Hayes, and Jared Odrick is good enough to play nose tackle, if need be. I would think they'll stick with a 4-3 most of the time, but the strength of the defense is definitely at linebacker and not defensive end.
Brian from Parts Unknown writes: Do we know why the paraphernalia charge against Mike Adams was dropped, but not against Shugarts?
Adam Rittenberg: Cases get continued all the time for various reasons, but I wouldn't read too much into it, Brian. Garth Cox, the attorney representing both players, said J.B. Shugarts passed a drug test. Cox fully expects the charge to be dropped at Monday's hearing, and given that no trace of drugs was found on the players' pipe, I'd be surprised if the charge wasn't dismissed.
Craig from Northville, Mich., writes: Adam, I was looking at the numbers from the Big Ten revenue/expenses chart, and I was wondering how you could call Penn State the most fiscally sound program in the Big Ten? While Penn State did have the sixth lowest expenses in the Big Ten, Michigan was seventh lowest and just 200K behind them, while Michigan brought in nearly 3.5 million dollars more in revenue. Michigan's program, if we go strictly by this chart, is the most profitable program in the Big Ten, and isn't that what economically sound is, I'm not sure.
Adam Rittenberg: You're right, Craig, and you're not the only reader to point this out. There's a reason I majored in journalism and didn't join the hordes of econ majors at Northwestern. Thanks for pointing this out. The truth is both Penn State and Michigan are pretty fiscally sound, according to the chart.
Monkei from Fairfield Glade, Tenn., writes: You could argue the Big Ten's premier game has become Penn State-Ohio State. It certainly proved true in 2008 and could once again be the case this fall. And Penn State is the last Big Ten home team to beat Ohio State (2005). === Please explain? OSU has not lost to a Big 10 team since PSU in 2005? Last year was 2008 and the game was in Columbus ... so what am I missing?
Adam Rittenberg: I probably didn't word it clear enough, but Penn State is the last Big Ten team that beat Ohio State on its home turf (Beaver Stadium). Ohio State has won 15 consecutive Big Ten road contests -- a truly remarkable streak -- since falling in Happy Valley in 2005.
Spencer from Iowa City, Iowa, writes: Adam, I was thinking about Illinois for next season. In my preseason rankings, I considered placing them in there in the low 20's. I'm not sure, though- the source I've been using to see who's back has been faulty. I know Juice Williams and Daniel Dufrene are back. What about the offensive line and defense, and what do you think about Illinois in 2009?
Adam Rittenberg: If you're talking about low 20s in the nation, I'd be a little more cautious. This team underachieved big time last year and loses some key pieces on defense (linebacker Brit Miller, cornerback Vontae Davis, defensive end Will Davis). Illinois certainly has the offense to be a Top 25 team by the end of the season, but there are some question marks elsewhere. The offensive line loses two starters, but pretty much everyone else returns on that side of the ball. Illinois will have the most experienced quarterback and arguably the best group of wide receivers in the Big Ten, led by Arrelious Benn. Dufrene and Jason Ford return at running back.
The defense is a little iffy, especially on the line and at cornerback. If linebacker Martez Wilson emerges along with several others, the Illini could be better there.