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Friday, April 17, 2009
Big Ten Friday mailbag

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Nice, quiet week in the Big Ten, especially in Ann Arbor. Don't you agree?

Vince in Salt Lake City writes: Terrelle Pryor said that the offensive scheme calls for him running less in 2009. Troy Smith ran his least in his senior year (Heisman season). Do you believe Jim Tressel is trying to speed up the process with Pryor and try to make him into a more complete QB faster? Also, do you believe the Columbus Blue Jackets should have Tressel give a pre-game speech against the Detroit Red Wings next week (with his successful record against Michigan)?

Adam Rittenberg: Totally agree, Vince. The run will always be a part of Pryor's game, but if he can become more consistent on short and intermediate throws, Ohio State will be a much more effective offense. I don't think he'll ever be great on the deep ball, but if he can make the high-percentage throws, Ohio State should be fine. And the Buckeyes really need to limit the hits Pryor takes as much as possible.

Here's what offensive quality control coach Nick Siciliano had to say about it Thursday.

"I'm not saying he's Troy [Smith], but if you watch Troy's progression throughout the course of time, how much he ran the ball in '04, in '05 he ran a little less, in '06 the ball is coming out like that," Siciliano said. "So you've just got to give him some time."

Not sure Tressel talking to a hockey team would work. Most of those guys are Canadian or European and didn't grow up as die-hard Buckeyes fans.


John from Here and There writes: Adam, Despite all of the aspersions and criticisms launched against him during his tenure, Lloyd Carr was as self-effacing and classy as any coach in the game. He won conference titles, a national championship and produced many successful pro athletes. He was one win away from the National title game in 2006 ... *sigh* I really miss him and the old staff right now. I agree with you, this whole Paulus nonsense reeks of desperation and proves the current staff has very little regard for what the University of Michigan truly represents. I hope this move doesn't start a trend of more risky behavior and poor decision making.

Adam Rittenberg: Like I posted earlier, I'm a bit torn on the whole Greg Paulus situation. But you're absolutely right about Lloyd Carr. No way this happens under his watch. Rich Rodriguez did something similar at West Virginia with J.R. House, a standout high school football player who played minor league baseball before joining the Mountaineers. That didn't work out too well. There might not be much risk at all to adding Paulus, but you don't like the message it sends to Tate Forcier, who worked his butt off this spring learning the system. Let's wait and see what happens with Paulus, but that could be a pretty tense quarterback room this summer.


Mark from Minneapolis writes: Adam--Is the list of primetime games released by the Big Ten a starting point for guaranteed night games or can more games be added. For instance, when I'm looking at Oct. 3 could Minnesota/Wisconsin or Michigan/MSU get moved to a night game with the other the mid-afternoon game on ABC or are they fighting over the mid-afternoon time slot with the other played at 11:00 am CST on ESPN (assuming they are deemed more compelling than PSU/Illinois)? I ask because my cousin is getting married in San Fran on Oct. 3 and the first flight back to MSP lands at 1:30. I'm trying to figure out the probability that I can make the Gophers game. If you can't make an excerpt of this msg a Friday mailbag post please email me any inisight if possible. Thanks in advance.

Adam Rittenberg: I don't believe any more night games will be added to the 14 contests already finalized for prime time. That group is set. Kickoff times for the other games will be determined during the fall, but they will begin at either noon ET or 3:30 p.m. ET. You might want to get an earlier flight on Oct. 3 to watch the Gophers.


Daniel from Grass Lake, Mich., writes: Hey Adam, I know people think Rich Rod is desperate if he is asking Grep Paulus to come in and compete at QB. But I think it is brilliant. The biggest concern for the Michigan offense has to be the QB depth and inexperience. Tate has talent and so does Denard. But Rich needs to develop these guys as quickly as possible. No better way to do that then creating competition. He has only told Greg he can come in and compete. I did not see where he was promised a position. To me this is nothing but good for Michigan. It will cause the other guys to step up their game and play better and compete. That?s what Michigan needs.

Adam Rittenberg: I agree with you on the depth aspect -- Michigan could certainly use another arm there. But as far as the competition, I really think Denard Robinson and a healthy Nick Sheridan would push Tate Forcier in the fall. Forcier had a strong spring, but Robinson might have the best skills to run Rich Rodriguez's spread. Whether Paulus is still the player we saw in high school remains to be seen. If he is, he'll provide another strong competitor for Forcier. If he's not, he'll just be another body -- and potentially a major distraction.


Thom from Lancaster, Pa., writes: So, Adam, on your recent trip to PSU, did you catch sight of The Land Grant Trophy? Is it okay? Is it lonely?

Adam Rittenberg: Tragically, I didn't set eyes on the venerable Land Grant Trophy at Penn State, but I did see the Governor's Victory Bell, which looked to be in great shape. My favorite Penn State trophy came from the 2006 Orange Bowl, which is filled with fake oranges that look real from a distance.


Nick from Parts Unknown writes: Hi,Adam I love your blog,and my question is what do you think MSU's record will be?What games will they lose,and what bowl game will they got to. Thanks!

Adam Rittenberg: I have Michigan State finishing 8-4 or 9-3 this year. The big swing games are road contests against Notre Dame (where Michigan State has dominated as of late), Wisconsin and Illinois, and home games against Iowa, Michigan and Northwestern. If Michigan State goes 5-1 or 4-2 in that stretch, it will be in good shape. I like what the Spartans return on defense, but they need to jazz up the offense, particularly without Javon Ringer. As for bowl games, I have them in the Alamo or the Outback.


Mark from Chicago writes: Penn State fans/alumni want to know...where did you eat in State College? Did you get any good eats while you were in town? Or was it more of a fast food, since you were there for so short a timespan. Happy Valley awaits your return in the fall...when you really see what this town is made of.

Adam Rittenberg: I got in late on Tuesday and needed to do work, so I just grabbed Quiznos near the hotel. I had lunch at The Corner Room on Wednesday, which was pretty solid. I'm definitely excited to get back there in the fall.