Big Ten mailbag

April, 14, 2009
4/14/09
9:00
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

A few questions and answers on this get-away day for me.

Paul from Johnstown, Pa., writes: Adam, Every year it seems like there is a QB in the Big Ten that emerges as the guy no one really talks about, but no one wants to play either. You know what type of guys I'm talking about too--the Brett Basanez's of the league...the guys that aren't flashy and don't get the PR, but are just plain gamers. Could Stanzi emerge this year to fill that role? Pryor, Clark and Forcier are already the media glory-boys, so it can't be any of those choices. Who do you think fits the bill?

Adam Rittenberg: Great question, Paul, and totally agree on quarterbacks coming out of nowhere in the Big Ten. Penn State's Daryll Clark certainly continued the trend in 2008. Iowa's Ricky Stanzi certainly could be that guy in 2009. I'm not sold on his wide receivers, but if tight end Tony Moeaki stays healthy, Stanzi could have a big year. He'll have one of the league's top offensive lines in front of him. Michigan State's quarterback, Keith Nichol or Kirk Cousins, also could fit into this category, as could Northwestern's Mike Kafka if he improves on short and intermediate passes.


Tony from Denver writes: Hey Adam, love the blog keep up the good work. When Robinson gets up to Michigan this summer, do you foresee a possible "wildcat" offense or something similar that could be put in the offense, with Robinson at QB and then Forcier out at receiver like Pennington was since he has the better arm?

Adam Rittenberg: I don't see this, Tony, at least not right away. Michigan must first see what it has with Denard Robinson at the quarterback spot, and also assess whether Tate Forcier has continued his development after a solid spring. The Wolverines are in no position to be moving quarterbacks to other spots on the field -- there's just not enough depth. And both Forcier and Robinson fit Rich Rodriguez's spread offense, which already has enough creativity when it's cooking. I wouldn't rule anything out, but I doubt Michigan will go this direction.


Ethan from Richmond writes: Adam: Love the column and all the info you provide. Had a question regarding your interview with Kirk Ferentz last week (4/10). Could you provide a little more info on what exactly the situation with DJK is? Your piece was the second that I read in as many days that mentioned that DJK seemed to be in the doghouse (again), but neither had much information. Just wondering if you knew or were told anything more than what appears in your article. Thanks and keep up the great work!

Adam Rittenberg: Thanks, Ethan. Kirk didn't go into great detail about Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, but you can read between the lines. The fact that he listed four receivers before DJK indicates Derrell has fallen off a bit after an excellent finish to 2008. Ferentz also talked about Johnson-Koulianos needing to do the little things better. Being a wide receiver is more than making the big play, and perhaps DJK needs to improve his blocking techniques, route running, etc. He obviously has the ability, but Ferentz is a no-nonsense coach who demands top effort with every element of the game.


Dan from State College, Pa., writes: After looking at some of the cupcakes on Penn State's schedule this coming fall, I can't help but be somewhat irritated. Eastern Illinois? REALLY? Call me crazy, but I would much rather see a good OOC team in that slot instead. Perhaps another Pac10 team? Cal? USC? I really can't be the only person who thinks some of these teams are too creampuff for Penn State. Why aren't we scheduling the USCs of the college football world, like Ohio State?

Adam Rittenberg: I totally understand your frustration, Dan, and the only thing I can tell you is to be patient. Penn State begins a home-and-home series with Alabama in 2010 and plays the Crimson Tide again in 2011. Other than that, I don't see too many other appetizing matchups on the schedule (Virginia doesn't get me too excited). Penn State, like a lot of Big Ten teams, needs to fill its stadium to make money, and 100,000 plus will show up to see the Lions face anyone. The reluctance to give up home games really hurts Penn State's nonconference scheduling. It might take being left out of the BCS title game with an undefeated record to change Penn State's approach. Ohio State's approach seems to work, and though a lot of people want to see the Buckeyes play tougher opponents in their other three games, a guaranteed showcase game every year is nice.


Jason from Madison, Wis., writes: I have a question about the new rule about no night games in November. does that mean non conference games to? I ask because Wisconsin Plays at Hawaii on December 5th and almost all of Hawaii's games are at night. will this game be affected?

Adam Rittenberg: No, the policy only applies to conference games. I'd be very surprised if the Wisconsin-Hawaii game doesn't kick off in the early evening, Hawaii time. Warriors' home games typically start between 6-7 p.m. local time (11 p.m.-midnight Wisconsin time). The Illinois-Cincinnati game, currently scheduled for Nov. 28 but possibly moving to Nov. 27, also could kick off at night. The Big Ten is the only league that I know of with such a policy in place.

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