Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Big Ten stock report, Week 2
By Brian Bennett
Every Wednesday during the season, we'll take a look at which players/teams/issues in the Big Ten are on the rise and which ones are on the decline. And after a couple more games are in the books, we'll give you a weekly report on where the various player-of-the-year races stand.
Let's check the stock pages:
Silas Redd started off the season with a strong 104-yard performance on just 12 carries.
Penn State running backs: Silas Redd had a terrific opening-week performance against Indiana State, rushing for 104 yards and two touchdowns on just 12 attempts. Brandon Beachum averaged nearly six yards per carry on his seven attempts. Of course, running it against Indiana State is not quite the same as doing so against Alabama, so stay tuned.
Michigan defense: This could best be described as a buy low opportunity. The Wolverines kept Western Michigan out of the end zone after the first quarter (granted, there was no fourth quarter last week in Ann Arbor), and two Michigan defenders -- linebacker Brandon Herron and defensive back Jordan Kovacs -- received national recognition for their play. I'd still advise you to hold on this stock, but at least it's trending upward from the past couple of years.
Joe Bauserman: The Ohio State quarterback proved he could be more than just a capable backup with a strong outing (three passing touchdowns, one rushing) against an admittedly weak Akron defense. Bauserman even flashed his wheels on a 15-yard touchdown scramble. Terrelle Who?
Illinois discipline: The Illini didn't commit a single penalty against Arkansas State, the first time in 18 years an Illinois team kept the yellow flags off the field an entire game. Only two other teams in the country, Eastern Michigan and Navy, went penalty-free in Week 1.
Max Shortell: The Minnesota quarterback couldn't complete the comeback charge against USC and threw an interception on the Gophers' final drive. But considering that Shortell is a true freshman who was pushed into action in the fourth quarter when MarQueis Gray went out with cramps, his performance (7-for-13 for 98 yards and touchdown) was pretty impressive. He's got poise and a bright future.
Iowa running backs:Marcus Coker couldn't build on his breakout bowl performance in the opener, rushing for only 41 yards and fumbling twice against Tennessee Tech. Worse, Mika'il McCall broke his right ankle and is out for the season after putting together some nice runs while Coker was benched. I expect much better things from Coker, but the Hawkeyes have had a lot of recent drama in their backfield.
Spartans special teams: The kicking game was a huge factor for Michigan State last year. But in the first week, Spartans special teams were less than special. Freshman punter Mike Sadler averaged just 38.3 yards per punt, normally reliable place-kicker Dan Conroy missed a 27-yarder and a muffed punt return led to Youngstown State's lone score. Too early to panic, but Michigan State will need to be better in those areas with its daunting road schedule.
Purdue discipline: Unlike Illinois, the Boilermakers drew all kinds of yellow hankies in their opener. Purdue was flagged 11 times for 95 yards in its nail-biting win over Middle Tennessee. Only two other teams, Oregon and Western Kentucky, were penalized more. The Boilers don't have enough margin for error to be making those kinds of mistakes.
Minnesota's pass defense:Robert Woods is probably going to make a lot of teams look bad. Yet the Gophers still allowed the USC star to catch a staggering 17 passes for 177 yards and three scores. Minnesota's defense improved in the second half, but it will have get much better overall to compete in the Big Ten.
Hoosier hysteria: An opening week loss to Ball State threw some cold water on the excitement surrounding new Indiana coach Kevin Wilson. The Hoosiers are an underdog this week at home against Virginia. But it's early; don't sell this stock just yet.