Friday, August 26, 2011
Big Ten Friday mailblog
By Adam Rittenberg
A few questions and answers for ya. Enjoy the last weekend before the season!
John from Au Gres, Mich., writes: Hi Adam,I really enjoy the blog, I check it out daily. Rethink your prediction of "worst case" for Michigan State, 5-7 or 6-6. A 7 loss season for MSU means they lose every competitive game on the schedule (ND, tOSU, Nebraska, Iowa, Michigan, Wiscy, and Northwestern). Two of those are home games. Think about your reference to 2010, you only point out the losses at Iowa and to Alabama on the road. Don't the get credit for winnin at Michigan, at Happy Valley and at Northwestern? They were at least 3-2 in tough road games in 2010. 10-2 isn't a bad best case, but so much rides on that tOSU game. Win that one, and look out.
Adam Rittenberg: John, I totally agree with you about the Ohio State game. It sets the tone for the rest of the Spartans' season, as the Buckeyes are the only Big Ten team (besides Nebraska) that Mark Dantonio hasn't beaten in his MSU tenure. Keep in mind that this is a worst-case scenario, and yes, Michigan State could lose all of its road games plus Wisconsin and maybe Michigan at home. The road wins against Michigan, Penn State and Northwestern were nice last year, but all three of those teams went 7-6. Meh. If things go badly -- Kirk Cousins injury, offensive line struggles, defense doesn't generate as many turnovers -- a seven-loss season is possible.
Vasav from Tokyo writes: 7 years later...inviting them back. I've got a sick feeling. I know we can't make it go away. I hope we don't make ourselves fools twice. I like that Dave Brandon is a feisty sonofa*****.But mostly...I really don't know what to think of this. Good or bad? There's not much upside, and there's a ton of downside. But Michigan Arrogance is back. And that cannot be a bad thing.
Adam Rittenberg: Vasav, I love the move, but then again, I'm not a Michigan fan who still cringes whenever Appalachian State is mentioned. It shows Dave Brandon has a sense of humor, and its a smart branding opportunity because more people are going to pay attention to that game rather than one against another FCS school (Appalachian State could be FBS by then, who knows). Sure, it'd be terrible if Michigan lost again to Appalachian State, but the Wolverines shouldn't put themselves in that position again. Either way, from an outside perspective, it's interesting.
Justin from Upper Arlington, Ohio, writes: Adam, are there actually an inordinate amount of leg injuries in West Lafayette over the past five years? Or does it just seem that way because of the timing in which they have occurred and the high profile positions (i.e., offensive skill positions) that have been affected the most? If the former, do they need to take a look at their strength and conditioning program; the turf on which they practice and play; the Omega-3 fatty acid content of their training table, etc.?
Adam Rittenberg: Justin, the conspiracy theories are out there, but these all could be unfortunate isolated incidents. The fact that most of the injuries have involved high-profile players undoubtedly brings more attention to the situation. That doesn't mean Purdue isn't very concerned about the rash of knee injuries. The school has to evaluate at all the areas you list. Purdue in March hired a new director of sports performance in Duane Carlisle, who comes from the San Francisco 49ers. It's important for the athletic department to continue to be proactive about this topic, but pinning down the problem isn't easy.
Tyler from Omaha writes: Adam,Like any Husker fan, I travel to away games quite frequently. I've met some great fans (namely Auburn and Virginia Tech), and some not so great (Colorado and Missouri). I'm planning on trips to Madison, Minneapolis, and Ann Arbor this year, with trips to the rest of the B1G over the coming years. What can I expect?
Adam Rittenberg: Tyler, I think you'll enjoy yourself in those three cities. There's great tailgating before games, particularly in Madison, but also in Ann Arbor and Minneapolis. You'll probably encounter some knucklehead fans, who are everywhere, but for the most part you'll be treated well. You're also seeing three exceptional stadiums: the Big House, Camp Randall (my personal favorite) and TCF Bank Stadium, which is new but terrific. Both Madison and Ann Arbor will be buzzing the night before games, so definitely take a walk around downtown. Minneapolis is a huge city with plenty of things to do.
Mike from Allentown, Pa., writes: Hey Adam,I was wondering if you could explain, or maybe shoot down, the double standard I keep reading about on the blog. Why is it that Larry Johnson is held to a different standard than a position coach at other schools? Specifically, I keep reading about how Penn State's D-Line won't be able to re-load (partly due to injuries) with the talent they currently have on the roster. Why does it seem like there's a lack of faith that LJ can't coach up the younger guys to step up, and make an impact? It just seems like a QB coach as say Alabama can reload the QB position, but LJ can't? I'm not saying Penn State should be ranked #2 in the nation, but Alabama lost a lot of experience at QB but everyone has faith they can reload. What would it take for LJ to get on that level, and get the same respect as others who are the best at coaching a given position?
Adam Rittenberg: Mike, I have a ton of respect for Larry Johnson, and it wouldn't surprise me if he develops Penn State's defensive line this season. But you're looking at a group that underperformed last season, and there are some depth issues at end because of injuries. Several Big Ten coaches told me Pete Massaro, who suffered a knee injury during spring, was Penn State's best threat on the edge. Can Jack Crawford stay healthy and reach his potential? Who else steps up at defensive end? Penn State reloaded for years under Johnson, but last year represented a drop-off and there are additional question marks entering this fall. But that doesn't mean he can't get it done again.
Mike from Richmond, Va., writes: Ridiculous that you have Persa so high on your list. Based upon the unknow, if this were basketball the seeders would have dropped NW several seeds for this injury.Argue this: given what we know right NOW, Cousins has the much better chance at success leading his team than Persa.
Adam Rittenberg: Mike, you bring up some good points. We compile the top 25 list before preseason camp because we need to complete it before the season. When camp started, Persa's injury didn't appear to be as big of a question mark as it does right now. If we were starting the top 25 now, we might have dropped him a bit lower. But Persa still could be very effective for Northwestern, particularly with his passing and decision-making. Yes, his feet are a big part of his game, but he could be a different type of player and still very effective. Cousins has a chance to be very good, too. Both he and Persa have excellent receivers and tight ends. Cousins has the better running backs, while Persa has a more seasoned offensive line. It'll be interesting to see how they fare.
Marty from Omaha writes: Does anybody in the B1G have a better throwback 70s look than Marcel Jones?
Adam Rittenberg: I love it, Marty. Very impressive fro/beard combo. He's the retro tackle.