Friday, August 12, 2011
Big Ten Friday mailblog
By Adam Rittenberg
Hoping everyone has a great weekend.
Erik from Illinois writes: adam i was reading your blog and came upon an article over upcoming struggles for returning qbs and then you went on to say that denard robinson and dan persa were the best qbs of 2010??? really? what a joke ricky stanzi and kirk cousins were both easily better than these two, denard shined when he played as a rb and persa is in a system offense where he can throw short dump off passes that pad his stats. i understand the hype that robinson produced but he was a run first qb who was very shaky throwing, i think he'll be much better this year, but last year? not so much. come on i know stanzi was underated but can he at last get the acknowledgement he deserves?
Adam Rittenberg: Erik, we can agree on the fact that Stanzi didn't get enough credit for what was mostly an excellent senior season. He got credit on the blog as I kept him in the Heisman mix longer than anyone, but we also can't discount the fact he struggled late in games and toward the end of the season. After surviving numerous major mistakes with late-game heroics in 2009, Stanzi had a better overall season last year but didn't deliver in the clutch nearly as much. And let's face it: quarterbacks are judged largely on clutch play. Cousins also had a solid season and showed guts playing through injuries, but you're really underrating Persa and, to a lesser extent, Robinson. Persa carried Northwestern and put up insane numbers. You can talk about the system all you want, but to complete 73.5 percent of your passes and throw just four interceptions on 302 attempts in an offense with a weak run game is pretty spectacular. Robinson had his struggles against better Big Ten teams, but he made a ton of plays and, contrary to what Big Ten coaches think, should have been categorized as a quarterback on the all-conference team. Stanzi and Cousins aren't far behind, but Robinson and Persa are my top two QBs from 2010.
Ahmad from Ann Arbor, Mich., writes: How do you rate the Michigan defensive line in the Big 10 this year? I feel like they are going to surprise many with how dominant they will be. Hoke and Mattison have been focusing their efforts on a veteran d line. I'm calling it now. Michigan will have one of the strongest run defenses in the country this year. Feel free to take shots at me while you can.
Adam Rittenberg: My pistol remains holstered, Ahman, because I agree that Michigan's defensive line will be much improved this season. Greg Mattison inherits a bona fide NFL prospect in tackle Mike Martin, along with a veteran end in Ryan Van Bergen who should fit better with the 4-3 scheme. Also, end Craig Roh has gained valuable experience and could be an impact player if he makes the adjustments to a bigger frame and a new defense. A big key is Will Campbell. Can he finally reach his potential? Michigan also must build depth with Jibreel Black and others. But if there's one area of the defense that doesn't concern me, it's the line.
Jake from Madison, Wis., writes: What are the chances we'll see Jon Budmayr and Russell Wilson switching off snaps in September?
Adam Rittenberg: Highly unlikely, Jake. Wisconsin likes to play one quarterback and if Russell Wilson shows he can handle the system and carry over the skills he displayed at NC State, he should be the guy handling most if not all of the snaps. Budmayr remains in the mix, but I'd be surprised if the Badgers went with a QB rotation.
Brett from Arlington, Va., writes: With all the speculation of TAMU bolting the B12 over the Longhorn network, is there any possibility of the B1G cherry-picking? As a Husker fan, I would love to see OU again...
Adam Rittenberg: You can bet the Big Ten is closely monitoring the Texas A&M-SEC situation. Major conferences simply don't have the luxury to sit on their hands when another round of expansion seems likely if not imminent. Oklahoma would be a very intriguing possibility for the Big Ten. I'm really not that excited about what remains of the old Big 12 North, but OU would move the needle. I also could see the Big Ten looking East toward the bigger markets and teams in the Big East or ACC.
Kevin from DC writes: Hey Adam - Who will be calling plays for the buckeye offense this coming season? I know Jim Bollman is back from last season as Offensive Coordinator, but (correct me if I'm wrong) in years past it was Jim Tressel that called the plays. So who takes play calling responsibility now, Fickell or Bollman? Either way, I'm expecting to see a run-first, conservative game plan, considering our personnel. How do you see things?
Adam Rittenberg: Luke Fickell won't be calling the offensive plays, Kevin. It'll be Jim Bollman working in conjunction with the offensive staff, but Bollman will be the primary play-caller for the Buckeyes. We will get a greater sense of how he calls games this year and how it differs from how the offense ran with Tressel as head coach. I'd agree Ohio State will be a heavy run team because of the depth at running back and the lack of depth and experience at both quarterback and receiver. The Buckeyes also should strongly consider featuring tight ends Jake Stoneburner and Reid Fragel more in the offense. Stoneburner especially could be a difference maker.
Jon from Hudsonville, Mich., writes: Perhaps this is the time I finally have a question answered and maybe not. I was wonderign what your thoughts about Worthy being a Heisman hopeful for this upcoming season. The award is about the best player, not the best qb rating, or most td's scored, but the best all around player in college football. My point is this. Look at Suh and his accomplishments, and he was a dt for nebraska right? Worthy has many positives going for him and all the hype for the upcoming season I think warrents his name thrown in the mix.
Adam Rittenberg: Jon, any defensive player faces a nearly impossible climb to get serious Heisman Trophy consideration. While Jerel Worthy will be helped by his NFL draft hype, he'd have to not only put up some ridiculous numbers this fall but play on a team contending for a Big Ten championship. Both of those things could happen, but Worthy hasn't approached Suh numbers, or even Jared Crick numbers, the past two seasons. The potential is there and he could have a very nice season, but at this point it's unrealistic to put him or many defenders on the Heisman radar. I wish things worked differently, but they don't.
Ray from Chicago writes: Hey Adam,Saw your post on impact freshman to watch. I think we need to keep an eye on NU WR Christian Jones. He was a ESPNU top150 recruit and he's got the size, 6-3 225. We've seen much smaller receivers from NU put up big numbers (Peterman, Markshausen, Ebert) and pairing Jones with Persa could be impressive to watch. What is your take on Jones from the few practices held so far
Adam Rittenberg: Ray, it's a little too soon to get a great gauge on Jones as Northwestern hasn't held a full-pads practice. But I've heard good things. Jones' size definitely sets him apart from many Northwestern receivers. The big question is whether he can work his way into a very crowded mix at receiver. Barring a wave of injuries, Northwestern really doesn't need to play Jones this year. So he'll have to show he's too good to keep on the sideline. Wide receiver is one of few spots where Northwestern seems willing to play true freshmen, but it's also the deepest position on the team.
Enrique from Grand Rapids, Mich., writes: Adam, I hope you saw Ubben's recent Big 12 All-Name team. I hope you also recall that I politely suggested you do something similar last week. You're always promoting innovation within the B1G and your hesitation has cost us that right to call ourselves leading innovaters in college football. I love your blog, but this has greatly disappointed me. I'd still love to see your version--as would many other B1G blog patrons--and I hope you will take heed of our requests more seriously in the future. It is posts like All-Name teams that will take the B1G to new heights. Thank you for your time, sir.
Adam Rittenberg: Patience, my friend. We'll get around to this. It's been a very busy week, but I promise we'll get to the All-Name team before the season rolls around. You can hold me to it. I'm guessing your email isn't entirely serious, but I do like to keep things fresh and fun, and an All-Name team certainly is a fun preseason post.