Sunday, August 17, 2008
Big Ten Sunday: Defense dominates scrimmages
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Saturday scrimmages fill up your daily diet of links. Here's a look at how teams fared.
- Illinois quarterback Juice Williams looks ready to take the next step after a strong scrimmage, Mark Tupper writes. The Illini are also pleased with their new digs as a renovated Memorial Stadium gets set to open. If you have some time, check out this lengthy feature on Phil Macklin, a decorated Illinois recruit serving a 24-year prison term for armed robbery.
- I'd still be stunned if Kellen Lewis doesn't start for Indiana, but the quarterback competition remains very much alive, Pete DiPrimio writes in The (Fort Wayne, Ind.) News-Sentinel. Senior Chris Phillips seems to have locked up one of Indiana's vacant cornerback spots, but the other is still open, LaMond Pope writes in The (Fort Wayne, Ind.) Journal Gazette.
- Iowa's defense dominated Saturday's scrimmage, which confirmed the doubts many have about the team's offense, Andy Hamilton writes in the Iowa City Press-Citizen. A bigger problem for the Hawkeyes could be a lack of desire in competing for playing time, Pat Harty writes. Coach Kirk Ferentz certainly wasn't pleased, Marc Morehouse writes in The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette.
- Michigan won't name a starting quarterback any time soon, Mark Snyder writes in the Detroit Free Press. Steven Threet and Nick Sheridan are the top candidates, with freshman Justin Feagin still adjusting to the college game. Feagin likely will play at some point, given his skill set, but Rich Rodriguez is looking to the two (slightly) older players:
"I think they understand what we want as far as our concepts go. They both need to work on making quicker decisions and not forcing things. Sometimes the big play may be there, but it's a little bit of a gray area and they should take the safe thing. It's typical things you'd have with a young quarterback. Just be patient, take what they give you. You don't have to make big plays all the time."
Michigan Stadium's massive construction will alter game-day routines, Dave Gershman writes in The Ann Arbor News.
- Defense ruled the day at Michigan State's scrimmage, though starting running back Javon Ringer and two offensive linemen sat out, Joe Rexrode writes in the Lansing State Journal. A defensive note: cornerback Kendell Davis-Clark scrimmaged at safety after projected starter Roderick Jenrette took an indefinite leave from the team.
- Minnesota also saw strides from its much-maligned defense Saturday, though three starting offensive linemen sat out with injuries, Kent Youngblood writes in the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune. Gophers quarterback Adam Weber admits two-a-days are beginning to take a toll, Marcus Fuller writes in the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
- Northwestern came away from Saturday's scrimmage pleased, as quarterback C.J. Bacher and the first-team defense both performed well, Lindsey Willhite writes in the Arlington Heights (Ill.) Daily Herald. The offensive line is still a work in progress, but the Wildcats' defensive backs are stepping up, Jim O'Donnell writes in the Chicago Sun-Times.
- Ohio State knows Terrelle Pryor can run and emphasized the passing game in Saturday's scrimmage, Doug Lesmerises writes in The Cleveland Plain Dealer. Pryor seemed to meet the challenge.
"I think he's going to surprise a lot of people with how well he can throw the ball," senior cornerback Malcolm Jenkins said. "He's doing a good job with his reads and his progressions and not being so quick to run like everyone expected him to."
Though Ohio State plays one marquee nonconference game a year, the Buckeyes, like most Big Ten teams, take heat for their schedule, Ken Gordon and Tim May write in The Columbus Dispatch.
- Get ready for the Stephfon Green show at Penn State, Jeff McLane writes in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Defensive line depth is becoming a bigger concern in Happy Valley after tackle Devon Still sustained a broken leg, Cory Giger writes in The Altoona Mirror. Linebacker is rarely a problem at Penn State, and despite injuries and graduation losses, the position looks solid to coach Ron Vanderlinden.
- Purdue coach Joe Tiller looks more relaxed heading into his final season, The (Lafayette, Ind.) Journal and Courier's Tom Kubat writes in his blog.
- Allan Evridge still looks like the starting quarterback at Wisconsin, but none of the signal callers impressed Saturday, Jeff Potrykus writes in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Also, starting linebacker Jonathan Casillas will miss 1-2 weeks after spraining his MCL at Saturday's scrimmage. A position switch helped tight end Travis Beckum reach his potential.