Monday, August 4, 2008
Morning Briefing: Practices begin
By ESPN.com staff
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Dust off those depth charts, people. Practice is finally here. Every Big Ten team --except Purdue -- lifts the curtain on preseason practice Monday. I'll be at Michigan's first workout at 2:30 p.m. ET, wearing a West Virginia shirt, of course. Relax, I'm joking.
Check back later today for interviews with Michigan offensive coordinator Calvin Magee and defensive coordinator Scott Shafer, as well as other maize and blue-related items. For now, here's a look around the league:
- Much has been made of Michigan's new conditioning program under Mike Barwis, but the Wolverines' archrivals didn't exactly lounge around this summer, the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Doug Lesmerises writes in his blog. Ohio State tackle Alex Boone said of the team's regimen: "It was the most unbelievable thing I've ever seen. People keeling over, and just vomiting everywhere. It was sick. If people are going to say they outran us or outworked us, I don't believe that."
- Can chemistry take Ohio State back to the title game? The Columbus Dispatch's Tim May takes a look.
- Buckeyes running back Beanie Wells can finally practice at full strength.
- Forget about the quarterback spot. Michigan's fate on offense largely depends on a revamped offensive line, Mark Snyder writes in the Detroit Free Press.
- Today won't be easy for injured Penn State linebacker Sean Lee, who will watch from the sidelines as the Nittany Lions open practice. But, as always, Lee will find a way to contribute, Ron Musselman writes in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Musselman also answers five questions about the team entering practice. Can you guess the first one?
- Penn State needs player-driven leadership in what will be a crucial month, Frank Bodani writes in the York Daily Record.
- It's open season on Wisconsin's quarterbacks as practice opens, Jeff Potrykus writes in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Badgers defenders can't wait, though they're more concerned about stopping the spread offense after struggling against it last season.
- Potrykus also looks at five things to watch at Badgers' practice. The competition at kicker and punter looms large after the losses of Taylor Mehlhaff and Ken DeBauche.
- Senior quarterback Brian Hoyer doesn't have to worry about his starting job, but Michigan State is looking for some insurance under center, Shannon Shelton writes in the Detroit Free Press.
- Purdue doesn't open camp until next Monday -- the Boilermakers have a bye in Week 1 of the season. Finding a third linebacker will top Joe Tiller's agenda when he steps on the practice field, Tom Kubat writes in The (Lafayette, Ind.) Journal and Courier.
- Some good stuff from the Champaign News-Gazette's Bob Asmussen, who looks at an Illinois program on the rise and releases his top 25 (Illini are No. 15).
- Rantoul looks nothing like the Rose Bowl, but that's the idea for Illinois as it opens camp in an all-football, all-the-time environment, Lindsey Willhite writes in the Daily Herald.
- Illinois has become a passing team, at least according to top receiver Rejus Benn, Herb Gould writes in the Chicago Sun-Times.
- Will Shonn Greene establish himself as Iowa's top running back? The Des Moines Register's Randy Peterson is excited to find out.
- Iowa's having a mini-turnaround in recruiting, as wide receiver Keenan Davis became the latest member of the Hawkeyes' 2009 class.
- The Indianapolis Star's Terry Hutches sees no way quarterback Kellen Lewis doesn't start Indiana's season opener, but who Lewis throws to and who blocks for him are somewhat in doubt entering practice.
- Wide receiver and cornerback top Indiana's priority list today, LaMond Pope writes in The (Fort Wayne, Ind.) Journal Gazette.
- Close games dogged Minnesota last season, and coach Tim Brewster made the fourth quarter a greater emphasis during the offseason, Myron Medcalf writes in The (Minneapolis) Star Tribune. Here are five focal points in Gophers' practice, which begins today.