Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Notes from Big Ten teleconference
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
The first Big Ten teleconference is complete. Here are some notes from the call:
- Defensive tackle Doug Worthington will play Saturday against Youngstown State but will not start the game, coach Jim Tressel said. Worthington was arrested last month for DUI and had a pretrial hearing continued on Monday. Worthington started 11 games last fall but will play behind senior Nader Abdallah. "Exactly how much he'll be playing, I don't know," Tressel said, "but he'll be suited up and ready to go."
- Terrelle Pryor might be listed as Ohio State's third-team quarterback, but the gap between the heralded freshman and backup Joe Bauserman is negligible. "I wouldn't go so far as to say one is the third guy and one is the second guy," Tressel said. Expect Pryor to make his collegiate debut Saturday, and not only in mop-up time. "What we've done at the beginning of nearly every season is we've had multiple quarterbacks play in the first half," Tressel said. "I don't think we're looking at waiting till the end of games."
- The Spartans' Week 1 depth chart is out and there are some surprises at defensive end, where four potential starters are listed. Senior Brandon Long and Trevor Anderson, a transfer from Cincinnati, had been projected to start but could share time with fifth-year senior Dwayne Holmes and sophomore Colin Neely. I can't see any way Anderson doesn't become the full-time starter, but it's interesting that he hasn't been given the job yet.
- Senior Kendell Davis-Clark will start at free safety as the Spartans are still without projected starter Roderick Jenrette, who recently was asked to leave the team to address personal matters. Davis-Clark moves over from cornerback, where he started 14 games during the last two seasons. Talented sophomore Chris L. Rucker will start in Davis-Clark's old spot, and players like Ashton Henderson provide depth. "We could play six corners right now," coach Mark Dantonio said, "so we felt like we could make that change and not suffer any problems."
- Fifth-year senior Mike Bacon beat out redshirt freshman Joel Foreman for the starting spot at left guard.
- Sophomore Mark Dell and redshirt freshman B.J. Cunningham are listed as the starting wide receivers ahead of Blair White and Deon Curry. True freshman Keshawn Martin is listed as the third-stringer behind Cunningham, while classmate Fred Smith is fourth string behind Dell.
- Safety Otis Wiley will handle punt returns. Backup running back A.J. Jimmerson and Davis-Clark are on kickoff returns as Michigan State tries to replace superstar Devin Thomas.
- Star tight end Travis Beckum will dress for Saturday's game against Akron, but it's unclear whether he'll play because of a lingering hamstring injury.
- Coach Bret Bielema said decision-making was never Allan Evridge's problem, but the quarterback had to learn to be more patient with his reads and progressions in the pocket. Evridge has made those adjustments to earn the Badgers' starting quarterback job. "Here's a guy who was so anxious to be The Guy, who put a lot on himself," Bielema said of Evridge, who started seven games for Kansas State in 2005. "We've calmed him down."
- Bielema also is spearheading a proposal made by Big Ten coaches to implement an early signing day on the recruiting calendar. The date would be the first Wednesday after the last active recruiting weekend in December.
- Jaycen Taylor's season-ending knee injury has put Purdue on notice to find a second option at running back to complement starter Kory Sheets. Four players are in the mix, but sophomore Dan Dierking could have the inside track after playing in all 13 games (starting one) last fall and racking up 181 rushing yards and two touchdowns. "We really felt like Sheets and Taylor would split playing time there," coach Joe Tiller said. "What we have to do from a management point of view is make sure we don't use Kory Sheets so much that he wears down."
- Tiller said having a Week 1 bye might actually help Purdue given all the injuries it had in the spring and the uncertainty at running back and other spots. The Boilermakers' Big Ten bye fell in Week 4, but they had to play Notre Dame that week. Tiller said Purdue also won't have a normal bye week next season before getting one in 2010.
- A secondary that has added Dwight Mclean and a healthy Torri Williams has impressed Tiller thus far in camp. "It might be the best-looking secondary that we've had since maybe 2001, something like that," he said. "I look for us to be much improved."
- Coach Rich Rodriguez has been pleased with the progress of the wide receivers, who along with the running backs can pick up his offense a bit quicker than quarterbacks or linemen can. In addition to older players like Greg Mathews and LaTerryal Savoy, freshmen Martavious Odoms and Roy Roundtree have been impressive in practice. "We hope to have six or seven guys ready to play on Saturday," Rodriguez said.
- Michigan can't afford any added confusion on offense, but Rodriguez isn't concerned about adjusting to the new clock rules this season. "We usually go at a pretty good tempo anyway," he said. "Conditioning is a bigger factor than it's ever been."
- The Hawkeyes' streak of 30 consecutive home sellouts is in jeopardy, which coach Kirk Ferentz attributes partly to economic impact of the floods that ravaged the state earlier this summer. "The challenges of our state are paramount to our challenges on Saturday," Ferentz said.
- The coach added that he expects to announce
Iowa's new player development coach in the next month. The position was added in response to a wave of off-field problems involving first-year Hawkeyes players.
- Coach Pat Fitzgerald praised wide receiver Jeremy Ebert, the only true freshman on Northwestern's Week 1 depth chart. Ebert, a quarterback in high school, quickly stood out in preseason camp because he arrived in peak conditioning level, not usually seen among true freshmen.