Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Big Ten stock report: Week 7
By Brian Bennett
Tick, tock, it's time to take stock:
Penn State's offensive line: An underperforming unit most of the season, the Nittany Lions' front five moved the pile well last week against Iowa. They cleared the way for 231 rushing yards, including 10 straight rushing plays on the game's defining -- and only -- touchdown drive. "We were much more aggressive than we've been," head coach Joe Paterno said. "We finished blocks, we didn't miss assignments and we really looked like a pretty good offensive line. We're not there yet -- we've got to get a little bit more consistent and a little more dominating. But we got a lot better last weekend."
Stanley Jean-Baptiste: Moved to cornerback from receiver just a couple of weeks ago, Jean-Baptiste showed why defensive coordinator Carl Pelini had been asking his brother for him for two years. Playing in his first game on defense, Jean-Baptiste made a spectacular interception in the second half against Ohio State on a deep ball. At 6-foot-3 with long arms, he has the tools to become a star at the position if he continues to develop.
Carlos Hyde: Not much has gone right for the Ohio State offense so far this year, but Hyde has been a bright spot. He had his first career 100 yard game with 104 and two touchdowns against Nebraska, including a 63-yarder. Even with Boom Herron coming back, Hyde should continue to get his share of handoffs.
Marcus Jones: Speaking of places where not much has gone right, Minnesota's stock isn't so hot right now. But at least Jones, a 5-foot-8 freshman, is promising. He had a 92-yard kickoff return against Purdue last week and a 32-yard catch that set up a score. "You'd like to be able to redshirt a guy like that, but in our situation he's also playing receiver for us and he's got big-play ability and he's learning," head coach Jerry Kill said. "He's a bright spot in a program we're trying to build."
Ricardo Allen: The Purdue sophomore cornerback grabbed his third career pick-six in the win over Minnesota last week, already tying the school record. He also blocked the field goal against Middle Tennessee earlier this year to secure that win. Look for more on Allen in the blog later today.
Bye-week bumps: It's a common refrain that teams have an advantage when they've had an extra week to prepare for an opponent. But the results say the opposite. Iowa, Northwestern and Purdue have all lost in their first game off a bye week this year while playing opponents who did not have a bye themselves. Beware this week, Michigan State and Wisconsin.
Illinois' return game: There's a lot to like about this year's Illini, but the return game is not one of them. The team is ranked last in the Big Ten in both punt and kickoff return yardage. Illinois is 117th nationally in returning kicks (17.2 yards per attempt) and 108th in the FBS in punt return average (3.17 per return).
DeVier Posey: The Ohio State receiver may have set some sort of record by drawing two, separate five-game NCAA suspensions in one season. The Buckeyes could have really used him this season, but his poor decisions mean he'll only be available for the final two regular-season games. Is that even worth the headache?
Northwestern's third-down defense: The Wildcats have had trouble stopping anyone on any down, but third down has been particularly perplexing. They rank 117th nationally in allowing opponents to convert 54.8 percent of third-down tries. Michigan was 14-of-17 on third down last week in Evanston. No wonder Northwestern is 2-3.