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Big Ten Thursday mailbag

Having a second blogger on the Big Ten beat means we can spend more time answering your questions. Adam and I are going to try to have three mailbags per week between us, maybe more if there are enough good questions. So keep sending them in.

Now let's play a little round of ask the new guy:

Joe from San Diego writes: First off, welcome to the B1G blog. How many schools do you think will adopt the tradition of ringing their car keys vs Ohio St?

Brian Bennett: Thanks for the welcome, Joe. I'm sure opposing fans, especially the student sections, will have a field day when Ohio State goes on the road this year. I also look for a lot of tattoo-themed signs. The first two road games at Miami and at Nebraska will be fascinating. But those were going to be tough environments, anyway, and this isn't like basketball where the fans are right on top of the players and there's virtually no way to shut out the taunts and signs.


Lori from Austin, Texas, writes: With Bubba Starling more than likely going to the MLB after the Royals drafted him (I was praying someone on the coasts would draft him so he would go to Nebraska to stay close to home), is there ANY depth at QB in your opinion? I am not expecting great things from Taylor Martinez this year, especially if he stubbs his toe AGAIN and has a crappy year like the end of last year. His appearance in the spring game was not impressive and Brion Carnes went up against the 2nd or 3rd string, right? ... What are your thoughts on my Huskers this year? Is the hype warranted in your opinion or are the Huskers going to have a tough year?

Brian Bennett: Simply put, T-Magic has to stay healthy, and that's no guarantee for a quarterback who likes to run as much as he does. He's not the same guy when he's banged up. Carnes had a nice spring but has no game experience. And that's pretty much it for the Huskers. I'm not convinced Starling will turn to baseball; he reportedly really loves football, and baseball will be there for him in three years. But it's going to be tough to turn down what will likely be a Godfather offer from his favorite MLB team. Even if Starling does show up in Lincoln, that still means Nebraska has only one quarterback with collegiate experience. I'm very high on the Huskers and would pick them to win the Legends Division today. But quarterback depth is a major concern.


Mochila03 from Grand Rapids, Mich., writes: Will you and can you please provide your own power rankings of the Big Ten? I know it's way too soon to say, but your opinion of the team rankings to date would be great to see in relation to Adam's, especially as an outsider only recently come in. I know you're not too familiar with the teams just yet, but I just thought I'd fill you in that MSU is pretty much the bee's knees.

Brian Bennett: I will do so soon, but I want to get to know the teams a little bit better before I start my own rankings. It's a good thing I didn't break them out on Monday, because I'd already be wishing for an eraser after the Terrelle Pryor news. One question: If Michigan State is the bee's knees, which team is the cat's pajamas?


Dan from Virginia Beach, Va., writes: Mr. Bennett, as a huge PSU fan I was stoked to see your list of last year's freshmen from the ESPNU 150 list, especially those to look forward to. Seems like all the fussing last year about the recruiting class might be just talk! Let's see how it pans out.

Brian Bennett: I come from covering the Big East, where some of the league's highest impact players (Dion Lewis, Pat White, Jordan Todman, George Selvie, etc.) were overlooked or severely undervalued on the recruiting circuit. So I'm someone who doesn't put a ton of value into recruiting rankings; I'd rather wait and see how a kid develops. That said, I found it interesting that none of the 14 highest-ranked recruits from the 2010 class made it onto Adam's All-Big Ten freshman team, while several kids who were ranked a little lower, like Penn State's Silas Redd, did. It's also true that linemen typically take longer to develop, and three of Penn State's blue-chippers who were redshirted a year ago play in the trenches. Be patient.


Ron from Carrollton, Texas, writes: Hey, Brian, just read your article regarding a world without kickoffs. Players can be severely injured on pretty much any play in college football. While I do agree that the chances of injury increase on a kickoff, if the NCAA regulates the kickoff, what else are they going to take out of the game? Should the league take out wide receivers that do a post into the middle of the field so that safeties don't bash their heads in? I think it's a slippery slope that you're proposing here.

Brian Bennett: First of all, Ron, it's not my proposal. Rutgers coach Greg Schiano came up with the idea. I know it sounds crazy and like too much of a radical shift when you first hear about it. But then again, if you take a wider look at football in general, doesn't it seem odd how influential kickers are to the outcome of a game when they do so little of the work? Having more snaps with the offense and defense potentially on the field is not a bad thing, in my view. Schiano's plan could reduce some injuries, but it wouldn't stop all of them. This is a violent game of ours. I doubt his proposal gains much traction.


Matt from Steel City, Pa., writes: Welcome to the B10 Blog and look forward to what you have to offer with Adam. I highly recommend the PSU v. Bama game for one of your first venue visits in the BIG10. It will be one of the greatest environments you will visit this year and you won't be disappointed. Any particular game/venue you are looking forward to visit? WE ARE?

Brian Bennett: Thanks, Matt. We don't have our game assignments yet, but I'm looking forward to checking out several venues that will be new to me. Happy Valley is very high on that list, especially if I can get there for a night game. Same goes for Mad-town -- can't wait to get up there for a weekend -- and the sea of red at Memorial Stadium. I'm also stoked about the first Big Ten championship game, which should be special.


Tyler from Charlotte, Mich., writes: I am curious to get your take on Denard Robinson's transition from the spread to taking snaps under center in a more traditional offense. What is his reputation outside of the Midwest? Do you see him struggling this year?

Brian Bennett: I had a chance to watch Robinson closely while covering Notre Dame and Connecticut. I can't speak for everybody, but I get the sense that his passing ability is vastly underrated by those who don't know much about him. That's why I think he can succeed in a more traditional system. There will be a transition this year -- any quarterback switching schemes and coordinators usually goes through that -- but I think Robinson is talented enough to work in any style. I hope the Wolverines don't rein in his running too much, though. While that increases his chance of injury, there are few more exciting players in the open field than Shoelace.


Luke H., Marshalltown, Iowa, writes: Brian, will you please leave and go home?

Brian Bennett: There's that Midwest politeness I've heard so much about. One problem with your suggestion, Luke: I already work from home.