Big Ten: Big Ten spring team recaps 2010

Illinois spring wrap

May, 5, 2010
5/05/10
11:00
AM ET
Illinois

2009 overall record: 3-9

2009 conference record: 2-6 (9th)

Returning starters


Offense: 5, defense: 6, kicker/punter: 2

Top returners

RB Mikel LeShoure, WR Jarred Fayson, LT Jeff Allen, DT Corey Liuget, DE Clay Nurse, LB Ian Thomas, LB Martez Wilson, CB Tavon Wilson

Key losses

QB Juice Williams, WR Arrelious Benn, LG Jon Asamoah, TE Michael Hoomanawanui, WR Jeff Cumberland, DE Doug Pilcher, S Garrett Edwards

2009 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Mikel LeShoure* (734 yards)

Passing: Juice Williams (1,632 yards)

Receiving: Arrelious Benn (490 yards)

Tackles: Ian Thomas* (95)

Sacks: Clay Nurse* (5.5)

Interceptions: Garrett Edwards, Tavon Wilson*, Russell Ellington*, Doug Pilcher, Terry Hawthorne* (1)

Spring answers

1. Scheelhaase steps up: Illinois didn't announce its starting quarterback this spring, but anyone who watched practice or talked with the coaches knew that redshirt freshman Nathan Scheelhaase took the lead. Scheelhaase is an exceptional athlete who shows good maturity and made big plays in several spring scrimmages. He still needs work as a passer but brings some dynamic skills to the backfield.

2. Jenkins emerges at receiver: A.J. Jenkins nearly left Illinois after a disappointing 2009 season. He comes out of spring practice as the team's No. 1 wideout and a potential successor to Arrelious Benn. Jenkins was "a changed man," according to head coach Ron Zook, and clicked immediately with new offensive coordinator/receivers coach Paul Petrino. He should be a major asset for the new starting quarterback this fall.

3. Defensive line builds depth: Illinois loses veteran defensive lineman Doug Pilcher but the squad should be better and deeper up front in 2010. Zook singled out defensive tackles Akeem Spence, Glenn Foster and Daryle Ballew for their play this spring. They join returning starters Corey Liguet and Clay Nurse, who participated in everything but full-contact drills this spring following shoulder surgery. Liuget and Nurse are natural leaders up front, and if Josh Brent returns from his academic struggles, Illinois could be very good along the line.

Fall questions

1. Quarterback: Jacob Charest isn't out of the race for the top job, but he'll need to close the gap with Scheelhaase during the summer and early in preseason camp. True freshman Chandler Whitmer is also in the mix, though the coaches say he's behind Charest and Scheelhaase. Illinois has some good leadership at other spots (receiver, defensive line, linebacker), but it must identify the No. 1 guy at the top position on the field.

2. Offensive line: Corey Lewis' torn ACL could be a big blow for a group adjusting to a new offense and new assignments for the guards and tackles (strong side/weak side). Illinois needs a strong preseason camp from Ryan Palmer, the favorite to fill the starting spot opposite Jeff Allen. The Illini need to run the ball with their talented backs and protect their young quarterbacks as well as they can, so building chemistry along the line is huge.

3. Safety squeeze: I still think Illinois' defense hasn't been the same since safeties Kevin Mitchell and Justin Harrison departed following the 2007 season. The Illini look pretty solid at cornerback with Tavon Wilson, Terry Hawthorne and several others, but the safety spot remains a question mark. Travon Bellamy and Supo Sanni are the top options coming out of spring, but they must continue to be pushed, especially if Walter Aikens isn't reinstated.

Indiana spring wrap

May, 5, 2010
5/05/10
10:30
AM ET
Indiana

2009 overall record: 4-8

2009 conference record: 1-7 (T-10th)

Returning starters

Offense: 8, defense: 4, kicker/punter: 2

Top returners

QB Ben Chappell, WR Tandon Doss, WR Damarlo Belcher, RT James Brewer, RB Darius Willis, LB Tyler Replogle, DT Larry Black Jr.

Key losses

LT Rodger Saffold, DE Jammie Kirlew, LB Matt Mayberry, DE Greg Middleton, CB Ray Fisher, SS Austin Thomas, FS Nick Polk, LB Will Patterson

2009 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Darius Willis* (607 yards)

Passing: Ben Chappell* (2,941 yards)

Receiving: Tandon Doss* (962 yards)

Tackles: Matt Mayberry (108)

Sacks: Jammie Kirlew (6.5)

Interceptions: Austin Thomas (4)

Spring answers

1. End game: Jammie Kirlew and Greg Middleton formed one of the Big Ten's most productive defensive end tandems during the last three seasons, and their departures raise a red flag about the defensive end position. So why isn't co-defensive coordinator Joe Palcic concerned? He has tons of faith in Darius Johnson and Kevin Bush, the favorites to start at the two end spots. Bush, a 24-year-old redshirt sophomore, spent three plus seasons in the military before joining the Hoosiers. "I'm telling you, they're both going to end up being better than Jammie Kirlew," Palcic said.

2. Hoosiers switch to 3-4: Despite losing two veteran linebackers, Indiana employed more of the 3-4 alignment on defense this spring in an effort to capitalize on its athleticism. The switch allows the Hoosiers to rotate more players up front. Among the players to be featured in the 3-4 are Johnson, Bush, Damon Sims, Fred Jones and Adam Replogle, a big, athletic defender who moved from tackle to end this spring.

3. Receiving orders: Indiana entered the spring loaded at wide receiver, and the Hoosiers added more depth on the perimeter. First-team All-Big Ten selection Tandon Doss turned in a stellar spring, and redshirt freshman Duwyce Wilson worked his way into a rotation that also includes Damarlo Belcher and Terrance Turner. Junior Dre Muhammad also stepped up, as he and Wilson combined for 10 catches in the spring game.

Fall questions

1. The secondary: There were some bright spots this spring, like the play of redshirt freshman cornerback Lawrence Barnett, but the secondary is far from settled heading into the summer. Indiana loses two multi-year starters at safety as well as Ray Fisher, its top cover corner. Junior college transfer Lenyatta Kiles went through spring ball, and another juco corner, Andre Kates, arrives for preseason camp. It will be interesting to see where those two fit in and whether Jerimy Finch finally blossoms at safety.

2. Run game: The pistol formation was supposed to ignite Indiana's rushing attack, but it hasn't happened yet. And while there's little doubt the Hoosiers can light up defenses through the air, their running game is a major question mark. Darius Willis shows flashes but struggles to stay on the field because of ankle problems. Indiana needs a strong camp from Willis and continued production from other backs like Antonio Banks, who had a nice spring.

3. Offensive line: Indiana must replace arguably the Big Ten's most underrated player in left tackle Rodger Saffold, who nearly worked his way into the first round of April's NFL draft (he was the first pick of the second round). Junior Andrew McDonald is Saffold's projected successor, but other players are in the mix, including starting guard Justin Pagan. The Hoosiers also must replace veteran guard Pete Saxon, so building chemistry will be key in preseason camp.

Iowa spring recap

May, 5, 2010
5/05/10
10:00
AM ET
2009 overall record: 11-2

2009 conference record: 6-2 (T-2nd)

Returning starters

Offense: 6, defense: 8, kicker/punter: 2

Top returners

QB Ricky Stanzi, WR Marvin McNutt, WR Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, RB Adam Robinson, OT Riley Reiff, DE Adrian Clayborn, DT Karl Klug, DE Broderick Binns, S Tyler Sash

Key losses

LT Bryan Bulaga, RT Kyle Calloway, TE Tony Moeaki, G Dace Richardson, C Rafael Eubanks, LB Pat Angerer, LB A.J. Edds, CB Amari Spievey

2009 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Adam Robinson* (834 yards)

Passing: Ricky Stanzi* (2,417 yards)

Receiving: Derrell Johnson-Koulianos* (750 yards)

Tackles: Pat Angerer (145)

Sacks: Adrian Clayborn* (11.5)

Interceptions: Tyler Sash* (6)

Spring answers

1. Man in the middle: Jeff Tarpinian emerged from spring ball as Iowa's starting middle linebacker, taking over for first-team All-Big Ten selection Pat Angerer. Tarpinian has big shoes to fill but boasts some experience and stepped up his play this spring. "I'm really pleased with his progress," head coach Kirk Ferentz said of Tarpinian.

2. Separation along O-line: Iowa's offensive line remains its No. 1 area of concern, but six players separated themselves this spring, which is a good sign. Along with returning starters Riley Reiff and Julian Vandervelde, right tackle Markus Zusevics and right guard Adam Gettis emerged as front-runners at their positions. Josh Koeppel and James Ferentz are neck-and-neck at the center spot, and the competition will continue in August.

3. Klug steps up: Adrian Clayborn is the defense's undisputed leader, but defensive tackle Karl Klug established himself as Clayborn's right-hand man this spring. Klug admits he's not the most vocal player, but his experience and attitude command respect on the field. "Karl played well in the fall," Kirk Ferentz said, "but if you surveyed any 10 of our players now, at least nine of them would tell you, maybe 10, that Karl Klug is one of our best leaders and one of our best players."

Fall questions

1. Running back: Iowa boasts depth at running back, but the No. 1 spot is very much up for grabs entering the summer. Robinson missed spring ball following shoulder surgery, Brandon Wegher sprained his shoulder during the spring and Jewel Hampton was held out of contact as he recovers from his knee injury. Iowa needs to keep these guys healthy in camp and figure out how the carries will work this fall.

2. O-line chemistry: The offensive line will be a major area to watch until the season opener and likely beyond. Iowa loses four players with starting experience and will lean heavily on Reiff and Vandervelde to lead the group. Just because the Hawkeyes have a strong record up front doesn't guarantee the line will reload, and Iowa knows it needs to keep Stanzi on the field after last season.

3. Kicking it: Ferentz said the kickers were inconsistent this spring, and Daniel Murray and Trent Mossbrucker will continue to compete throughout fall camp. Murray connected on 19 of 26 field goal attempts last season but missed some chip shots, and Mossbrucker, the team's top kicker for most of 2008, has worked his way back into the mix.

Michigan spring wrap

May, 5, 2010
5/05/10
9:30
AM ET
2009 overall record: 5-7

2009 conference record: 1-7 (T-10th)

Returning starters

Offense: 7, defense: 8, kicker/punter: 0

Top returners

QB Tate Forcier, QB Denard Robinson, WR Roy Roundtree, C David Molk, LG Stephen Schilling, CB Troy Woolfolk, LB/DE Craig Roh, NT Mike Martin

Key losses

RB Carlos Brown, RB Brandon Minor, C/G David Moosman, DE Brandon Graham, CB Donovan Warren, LB/S Stevie Brown, P Zoltan Mesko

2009 statistical leaders (*-returners)

Rushing: Brandon Minor (502 yards)

Passing: Forcier* (2,050 yards)

Receiving: Roundtree* (434 yards)

Tackles: Stevie Brown (80)

Sacks: Brandon Graham (10.5)

Interceptions: Donovan Warren (4)

Spring answers

1. Robinson steps up: Spring practice began with talk of Denard Robinson playing other positions besides quarterback. The session ended with Robinson looking like the Wolverines' top signal caller. A full offseason in the program paid off for Robinson, who proved why he should stay at quarterback and closed the gap with last year's starter, Tate Forcier. Robinson capped it off with a strong spring game performance, leading the offense to touchdowns on five of six possessions and firing a 97-yard scoring pass to Roy Roundtree.

2. Secondary gets boost: After a miserable year for Michigan's secondary in 2009, help arrived this spring. Cameron Gordon, a wide receiver converted to safety, was arguably the biggest star of the spring session and drew tons of praise for his big hits and his presence in the deep middle. Cornerback Troy Woolfolk had a very good spring and is ready to embrace a shutdown role. The coaches also singled out cornerback J.T. Floyd and others for their play.

3. Offensive line coming together: The offensive line should be, and needs to be, a strength for Michigan this fall, especially if Robinson is the starting quarterback. Michigan's coaching staff seemed pleased with the line's progress this spring, as the Wolverines return five players who started part or all of last season and integrate promising redshirt freshmen like Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield. Guard Patrick Omameh made strides this spring and the line will get a big boost when David Molk returns from injury.

Fall questions

1. Starting quarterback: The quarterback race is very close after Robinson's strong spring, and Michigan could go several weeks into preseason camp before naming its starter. Head coach Rich Rodriguez challenged Forcier this spring, and the sophomore needs a good response in August. True freshman Devin Gardner is still in the mix as well, though he'll need a great camp to keep pace with Robinson and Forcier.

2. Kicking game: The situation at kicker, and especially punter, wasn't good this spring. Incoming freshman Will Hagerup needs to be the answer at punter after the loss of All-American Zoltan Mesko. Hagerup also could be a factor at kicker if Brendan Gibbons can't lock up the job. Gibbons has a very strong leg but needs to be more consistent.

3. Pass rush: Michigan loses one of the nation's most disruptive defenders in Brandon Graham, who recorded 26 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, two blocked kicks and a fumble recovery for a touchdown last season. The Wolverines need boosts from returning defensive linemen Ryan Van Bergen and Mike Martin, as well as production from players like Craig Roh, a linebacker hybrid who showed promise as a true freshman last fall.

Michigan State spring wrap

May, 5, 2010
5/05/10
9:00
AM ET
2009 overall record: 6-7

2009 conference record: 4-4 (T-6th)

Returning starters

Offense: 6, defense: 6, kicker/punter: 1

Top returners

QB Kirk Cousins, WR Keith Nichol, WR Mark Dell, LG Joel Foreman, LB Greg Jones, LB Eric Gordon, CB Chris L. Rucker, DT Jerel Worthy

Key losses

WR Blair White, LT Rocco Cironi, C Joel Nitchman, DE Trevor Anderson, NT Oren Wilson, CB Jeremy Ware, PK Brett Swenson

2009 statistical leaders (*-returners)

Rushing: Larry Caper* (468 yards)

Passing: Kirk Cousins* (2,680 yards)

Receiving: Blair White (990 yards)

Tackles: Greg Jones* (154)

Sacks: Greg Jones* (9)

Interceptions: Brandon Denson, Trenton Robinson*, Chris L. Rucker*, Danny Fortener, Jeremy Ware and Ross Weaver (1)

Spring answers

1. Skill positions stacked: Arguably no Big Ten team boasts as many offensive weapons as Michigan State. The Spartans are very excited about sophomore running backs Larry Caper and Edwin Baker. They lose All-Big Ten wideout Blair White but moved quarterback Keith Nichol to receiver and should have plenty of firepower there with Keshawn Martin, Mark Dell and others. Michigan State also boasts the Big Ten's deepest group of tight ends, led by Charlie Gantt.

2. Defense to stress 3-4: Michigan State's depth at linebacker prompted the greater use of the 3-4 alignment this spring. The Spartans hope the formation gives them greater flexibility with All-American Greg Jones, and they also want to feature Eric Gordon and Chris Norman. Incoming freshmen William Gholston and Max Bullough also factor into the shift toward the 3-4.

3. Cousins takes command: Kirk Cousins is Michigan State's undisputed offensive leader, and he showed why this spring. Cousins, a co-captain as a sophomore in 2009, admits he's more comfortable as a leader these days, and his play is reflecting it. The junior quarterback finished a solid session by completing 10 of 15 passes for 254 yards and a touchdown in the spring game.

Fall questions

1. The secondary: For the second straight spring, we heard a lot of good things about the secondary. And for the second straight year, the Spartans allowed a ton of passing yards (534) in the spring game. Now the defensive backs also made their share of plays, as cornerbacks Chris L. Rucker and Johnny Adams combined for three sacks and four tackles for loss, but the jury is still out on this group. The secondary has experience but needs to be more consistent and generate more interceptions.

2. Line play: Michigan State looks good to go at most of the skill positions, but there's some uncertainty along both lines. The two main priorities this summer will be solidifying the right side of the offensive line and identifying some capable defensive ends. Jones, who led the team in sacks last fall, wants to play a bigger role in pass coverage, so the Spartans need to shore up their pass rush.

3. Kicking it: Placekicker Brett Swenson was a special player, and he'll be tough to replace. Kevin Muma and Dan Conroy competed throughout the spring and will continue to do so this fall. The race is tight, and Michigan State's offense will be under more pressure to reach the end zone in 2010.

Minnesota spring wrap

May, 5, 2010
5/05/10
8:30
AM ET
2009 overall record: 6-7

2009 conference record: 3-5 (8th)

Returning starters

Offense: 9, defense: 2, kicker/punter: 1

Top returners

QB Adam Weber, RB Duane Bennett, RB DeLeon Eskridge, C D.J. Burris, S Kyle Theret, S Kim Royston, P Eric Ellestad

Key losses

WR Eric Decker, TE Nick Tow-Arnett, LB Lee Campbell, LB Nate Triplett, LB Simoni Lawrence, CB Traye Simmons, DT Garrett Brown, DT Eric Small

2009 statistical leaders (*-returners)

Rushing: Duane Bennett* (376 yards)

Passing: Adam Weber* (2,582 yards)

Receiving: Eric Decker (758 yards)

Tackles: Lee Campbell (119)

Sacks: Eric Small (3)

Interceptions: Kyle Theret (3)

Spring answers

1. Weber still man to beat: Adam Weber knew his job was on the line this spring, and he stepped up like a senior should. After backsliding last season, Weber embraced a pared-down playbook and created some early separation with MarQueis Gray and Moses Alipate. He must continue to make progress this summer, but he had the type of response the coaches wanted to see this spring.

2. Defensive line reloads: Minnesota loses all four starters up front but could have a more talented and explosive defensive line this fall. The coaches really like they size they have at defensive tackle with Jewhan Edwards and Brandon Kirksey. No defensive end recorded more than two sacks last year, a total that must improve this fall. Head coach Tim Brewster raves about Ra'Shede Hageman, and Matt Garin also should contribute a lot there.

3. Simple is better on offense: The arrival of new offensive coordinator Jeff Horton and a simplified scheme definitely paid off for the Gophers this spring. Players really welcomed Horton's system after going through information overload under Jedd Fisch last fall. Minnesota's offense could struggle in 2010, but players will have a lot more confidence in what they're being asked to do.

Fall questions

1. Secondary shaky: Minnesota's first priority is the cornerback spot, where it loses both starters. Is Michael Carter ready to break out? Carter and Ryan Collado look like the top two options, but depth certainly could be an issue against opponents who like to pass the ball. Safety looked like the Gophers' biggest strength after last season, but Kim Royston's broken leg and Kyle Theret's suspension thinned things out this spring. Royston will be a big loss if he can't return.

2. Linebackers in limbo: The Gophers lose three productive linebackers from last year and not only need starters to emerge, but some depth along with it. Mike Rallis, a converted safety, had a very nice spring and should be a key contributor along with Sam Maresh. But Minnesota needs others to emerge in the defensive midsection. The Gophers could use Gary Tinsley, but whether he'll be available remains to be seen.

3. Offensive line: The Gophers have lost their offensive identity a bit the last few years, and they need to build more toughness along the line. All five starters return, but young players like Ed Olson and Brooks Michel are pushing the returnees and increasing the competition. It's far from a finished product yet, but Minnesota's linemen are embracing a simplified scheme and taking pride in run-blocking. They've got to keep it going through the summer.

Northwestern spring wrap

May, 5, 2010
5/05/10
8:00
AM ET
2009 overall record: 8-5

2009 conference record: 5-3 (T-4th)

Returning starters

Offense: 8, defense: 5, kicker/punter: 1 (Stefan Demos handled both duties in 2009)

Top returners

TE Drake Dunsmore, LT Al Netter, C Ben Burkett, LB Quentin Davie, LB Nate Williams, DT Corbin Bryant, DE Vince Browne, S Brian Peters, K/P Stefan Demos

Key losses

QB Mike Kafka, WR Zeke Markshausen, WR Andrew Brewer, DE Corey Wootton, CB Sherrick McManis, S Brad Phillips, DT Adam Hahn

2009 statistical leaders (*-returners)

Rushing: Arby Fields* (302 yards)

Passing: Mike Kafka (3,430 yards)

Receiving: Andrew Brewer (925 yards)

Tackles: Quentin Davie* (90)

Sacks: Quentin Davie* and Vince Browne* (5)

Interceptions: Sherrick McManis (5)

Spring answers

1. Persa ready to lead at QB: There's no quarterback controversy in Evanston as junior Dan Persa has established himself as the undisputed leader of the offense despite his limited game experience. Persa still must prove himself this fall, but he has done all the right things to prepare to succeed All-Big Ten selection Mike Kafka.

2. Ebert back to top form: Jeremy Ebert never fully recovered from hip surgery last season, but the junior looked like a No. 1 wide receiver this spring. Ebert should fit into the Eric Peterman-Zeke Markshausen mold as a reliable possession receiver, though he can also stretch the field at times. He finished spring ball with a solid performance (4 receptions, 49 yards) in the spring game.

3. Depth at linebacker and defensive tackle: Coaches often stress the importance of up-the-middle defense, and Northwestern looks strong at two of the three spots. Head coach Pat Fitzgerald says the team's linebacker depth is the best it has been in recent memory, as Quetin Davie leads a strong group. Niko Mafuli turned in a strong spring at defensive tackle and should form a solid rotation with projected starters Corbin Bryant and Jack DiNardo. The safety spot is the only remaining question mark.

Fall questions

1. Running back: Northwestern can't expect to run the ball as poorly as it did last fall and win eight or more games again in 2010. Persa is still inexperienced and will need some help from the running backs. Arby Fields comes out of the spring as the No. 1 back, even though he didn't participate in any scrimmages because of his baseball responsibilities. The Wildcats need Fields or another candidate to create some clear separation in preseason camp.

2. Safety depth: The team loses two multiyear starters at safety in Brad Phillips and Brendan Smith, putting the position very much in the spotlight. Northwestern feels good about playmaking junior Brian Peters, who essentially served as a third starter in 2008 and 2009. But other than Peters, there are question marks. Jared Carpenter emerged from spring ball as the No. 2 starter, but converted linebacker David Arnold and Hunter Bates will compete for playing time.

3. Special teams: The kicking game must remain a top priority for Northwestern, which has lost or nearly lost quite a few games because of special teams. Stefan Demos is an All-Big Ten kicker, but he would really benefit if Brandon Williams could step up and become the starting punter. Northwestern also must improve its return and coverage teams. Stephen Simmons should help on kickoff returns if he can stay healthy.

Ohio State spring wrap

May, 5, 2010
5/05/10
7:30
AM ET
2009 overall record: 11-2

2009 conference record: 7-1 (1st)

Returning starters

Offense: 10, defense: 5, kicker/punter: 0

Top returners

QB Terrelle Pryor, RB Brandon Saine, RB Dan Herron, WR DeVier Posey, LG Justin Boren, C Michael Brewster, DL Cameron Heyward, LB Ross Homan, LB Brian Rolle, DE John Simon

Key losses

OL Jim Cordle, DE Thaddeus Gibson, DT Doug Worthington, LB Austin Spitler, S Kurt Coleman, S Anderson Russell, PK Aaron Pettrey, P Jon Thoma

2009 statistical leaders (*-returners)

Rushing: Pryor* (779 yards)

Passing: Pryor* (2,094 yards)

Receiving: Posey* (828 yards)

Tackles: Ross Homan* (108)

Sacks: Cameron Heyward* (6.5)

Interceptions: Ross Homan* and Kurt Coleman (5)

Spring answers

1. Pryor ready for expanded offense: Ohio State fans have wanted the offense to open up, and they finally should get their wish this fall. Pryor built on his Rose Bowl performance with a solid spring, displaying improved footwork and rebounding nicely from some struggles in the jersey scrimmage to complete 8 of 12 passes for 108 yards and a touchdown in the spring game.

2. Sabino steps up: Ohio State returns two All-Big Ten linebackers in Ross Homan and Brian Rolle, but it needed a third player to step up and Etienne Sabino answered the call this spring. He spent the entire session with the first-team defense and finished things off with a game-high seven tackles and a forced fumble in the spring game.

3. Guiton provides insurance at QB: Pryor played through pain toward the end of last season and has proven to be durable at quarterback, but every team needs a backup plan and Ohio State might have found one with Kenny Guiton. He wasn't the Buckeyes' first choice for the 2009 recruiting class, but Guiton showed some promise in the spring game by tossing two touchdowns. Guiton certainly will push Joe Bauserman for the backup quarterback spot.

Fall questions

1. The kicking game: It seems sacrilegious to question the specialists on a Jim Tressel-coached team, but Ohio State has some legitimate concerns here. Devin Barclay couldn't separate from freshman Drew Basil, and the place-kicker competition will continue in fall camp. Ben Buchanan should lock up the starting punter spot, but he struggled a bit in the spring game.

2. Left tackle: Ohio State opened up the competition this spring and seemed to narrow it down to Mike Adams and Andrew Miller, with Adams as the frontrunner entering the summer. The competition will continue for some time, but the hope is the gifted Adams can finally step up and lock down a starting spot. Ohio State returns its other four starters up front and likely would rather have J.B. Shugarts stay at right tackle.

3. No. 3 pass-catching option: Some folks don't think this is a big deal in Tressel's offense, but if Ohio State really wants to open things up, Pryor needs a third target after Posey and Dane Sanzenbacher. Wideout Taurian Washington made a good case in the spring game with 83 receiving yards and a touchdown, and he'll compete with Chris Fields and most likely Duron Carter this summer. Tight end Jake Stoneburner also should be a much bigger part of the passing attack this season.

4. Running back rotation: I couldn't resist and had to toss in a fourth question for the fall. Brandon Saine and Boom Herron are two proven options, but Ohio State has plenty of depth and only one football to go around. Can Jaamal Berry, Jordan Hall or Carlos Hyde challenge the top two?

Penn State spring wrap

May, 5, 2010
5/05/10
7:00
AM ET
2009 overall record: 11-2

2009 conference record: 6-2 (T-2nd)

Returning starters

Offense: 7, defense: 5, kicker/punter: 1

Top returners

RB Evan Royster, WR Derek Moye, WR Graham Zug, G Stefen Wisniewski, DE Jack Crawford, DT Ollie Ogbu, S Nick Sukay

Key losses

QB Daryll Clark, TE Andrew Quarless, LT Dennis Landolt, DT Jared Odrick, LB Navorro Bowman, LB Sean Lee, LB Josh Hull, P Jeremy Boone

2009 statistical leaders (*-returners)

Rushing: Evan Royster* (1,169 yards)

Passing: Daryll Clark (3,003 yards)

Receiving: Derek Moye* (785 yards)

Tackles: Josh Hull (116)

Sacks: Jared Odrick (7)

Interceptions: A.J. Wallace (3)

Spring answers

1. Linebacker depth should be OK: It's never easy to replace three starters at one spot, but Penn State is called Linebacker U. for a reason. Nate Stupar, Mike Yancich and Gerald Hodges all did some nice things in the Blue-White Game, and fan favorite Michael Mauti returns from an ACL injury this summer. Penn State can't expect the same production it received in 2009, but linebacker shouldn't be the team's chief concern this fall.

2. Defensive line looks fine: The D-line has been Penn State's most consistent unit in recent years, as coach Larry Johnson mass-produces elite players. First-round draft pick Jared Odrick leaves a major void inside, but Ollie Ogbu and Devon Still both boast some good experience there. The coaches had to like what they saw from defensive ends Eric Latimore and Kevion Latham in the spring game, and don't forget about Jack Crawford, who could have a monster 2010 season.

3. Jones is a factor at quarterback: Joe Paterno might want you to believe that freshmen don't exist, but you can bet he noticed Paul Jones in the Blue-White Game. Jones, an early enrollee, was the Nittany Lions' top quarterback in the game, tossing two touchdown passes to Shawney Kersey. If Kevin Newsome and Matt McGloin don't separate themselves early in fall camp, Jones deserves a longer look.

Fall questions

1. Quarterback questions: Newsome and McGloin didn't do much to ease the anxiety of Penn State fans in the spring game. McGloin had two interceptions and nearly had a third, and Newsome completed only 5 of 12 pass attempts. There's a long way to go before the season, but Penn State needs to see more progress from these two or the prospect of starting a true freshman quarterback will become a likelihood.

2. Finding an O-line combo: Penn State did some shuffling along the offensive line this spring, and it showed in the Blue-White Game. The line struggled to protect the quarterbacks or open holes for the running backs. All-Big Ten selection Stefen Wisniewski should be fine at right guard after switching back from center, but the coaches need to settle on the other four spots so the group can build some chemistry before September.

3. Punting situation: You know there's a potential problem when a wide receiver (Graham Zug) is working as the second-team punter. Penn State's punting situation could be resolved when Anthony Fera gets out of the doghouse and back on the practice field, but the Nittany Lions can't afford a major dropoff following the departure of standout Jeremy Boone. A good punter can be a young quarterback's best friend, and Penn State needs one in 2010.

Purdue spring wrap

May, 5, 2010
5/05/10
6:30
AM ET
2009 overall record: 5-7

2009 conference record: 4-4 (T-6th)

Returning starters

Offense: 6, defense: 6, punter/kicker: 1

Top returners

RB Ralph Bolden, WR Keith Smith, TE Kyle Adams, DE Ryan Kerrigan, LB Jason Werner, DE Kawann Short, LB Joe Holland

Key losses

QB Joey Elliott, C Jared Zwilling, WR Aaron Valentin, DT Mike Neal, CB Brandon King, CB David Pender, FS Torri Williams

2009 statistical leaders (*-returners)

Rushing: Ralph Bolden* (935 yards)

Passing: Joey Elliott (3,026 yards)

Receiving: Keith Smith* (1,100 yards)

Tackles: Torri Williams (84)

Sacks: Ryan Kerrigan* (13)

Interceptions: Brandon King (3)

Spring answers

1. Marve ready to lead: The concerns about quarterback Robert Marve's maturity have disappeared, as the Miami transfer conducted himself well this spring and showed flashes of his significant talent. Marve shared the team's Newcomer Award and performed well for most of the team's scrimmages. He has a big arm and will have the weapons to use it this fall.

2. Help for Kerrigan up front: Purdue knows what it has in Ryan Kerrigan, but the Boilers need to develop other pass-rushing threats around him. Kawann Short answered the bell this spring and recorded two sacks and a pass breakup in the Black & Gold Game. Defensive ends Robert Maci (2 sacks) and Adam Brockman (INT, sack) also stepped up. Along with Gerald Gooden, Purdue should have some depth up front when Kerrigan draws double-teams.

3. TerBush hanging tough: Marve remains the front-runner for the top quarterback spot, but as offensive coordinator Gary Nord predicted, Caleb TerBush isn't going away. TerBush pushed Marve throughout the spring and outperformed him in the spring game, completing 13 of 18 passes for 147 yards and two touchdowns. Purdue needs a solid No. 2 option at quarterback, and TerBush is stepping up.

Fall questions

1. Running back: Injuries were a major problem for Purdue this spring, and the biggest hit came at running back as Ralph Bolden suffered a torn ACL in his right knee, the same one he injured in high school. Head coach Danny Hope is optimistic that Bolden can return sometime this season, but Purdue realistically needs sophomore Al-Terek McBurse to claim a featured role. McBurse dealt with an arm injury this spring. Purdue needs to keep its backs on the field in preseason camp.

2. Rebuilding the secondary: Purdue must replace all four starters in the secondary, and its lone returnee with experience, safety Albert Evans, sat out spring ball following ankle surgery. The Boilers signed junior college safety Max Charlot late in the spring, which reinforced the need for help at that spot. No cornerbacks truly emerged in the spring, and there will be plenty of competition there in camp.

3. Team's overall health: It's better to have injuries in April than October, but Purdue fans have to be a little concerned with all the health issues this spring. The Boilers need players like Kerrigan, McBurse and wide receiver Keith Smith to come back strong, and they can't afford many more injuries to crop up in preseason camp. Purdue had 20 players and 10 starters miss part or all of spring drills.

Wisconsin spring wrap

May, 5, 2010
5/05/10
6:00
AM ET
Spring practice is in the books, and I'll be taking a look back at each Big Ten team's spring session today. First up, Wisconsin.

2009 overall record: 10-3

2009 conference record: 5-3, T-4th

Returning starters

Offense: 10, defense: 6, punter/kicker: 2

Top returners

RB John Clay, QB Scott Tolzien, LT Gabe Carimi, G/C John Moffitt, WR Nick Toon, DE J.J. Watt, LB Chris Borland, SS Jay Valai

Key losses

TE Garrett Graham, DE O'Brien Schofield, LB Jaevery McFadden, FS Chris Maragos

2009 statistical leaders (*-returners)

Rushing: John Clay* (1,517 yards)

Passing: Scott Tolzien* (2,705 yards)

Receiving: Nick Toon* (805 yards)

Tackles: Jaevery McFadden (74)

Sacks: O'Brien Schofield (12)

Interceptions: Chris Maragos (4)

Spring answers

1. Defensive line should be fine: Wisconsin appears to have the pieces to survive the losses of O'Brien Schofield, a first-team All-Big Ten performer, as well as tackles Dan Moore and Jeff Stehle. J.J. Watt could be a superstar at end, and Louis Nzegwu stepped up nicely this spring at the other spot. Patrick Butrym and Jordan Kohout will occupy the starting tackle spots, and if the Badgers can build a bit more depth inside this summer, they should be very solid.

2. Kendricks transitions seamlessly: First-team All-Big Ten tight end Garrett Graham departs, but Wisconsin once again shouldn't miss a bit as Lance Kendricks moves into a starting role. Kendricks turned in a career performance at the Champs Sports Bowl and followed with a solid spring, recording six receptions for 63 yards in the spring game April 17.

3. Secondary coming together: After a slow start to the spring, the defensive backs finished strong, as Antonio Fenelus and others stepped up in the spring game. Chris Maragos was a great leader and leaves a void, but Jay Valai and converted cornerback Aaron Henry seem to complement each other well at the safety spots. There's good depth at cornerback as starters Devin Smith and Niles Brinkley return and Fenelus provides some depth.

Fall questions

1. Key players returning from injuries: It was tough to grade Wisconsin's spring because so many key players sat out with injuries. Star running back Clay needs a strong preseason camp after undergoing two ankle surgeries during the winter to relieve pressure. Starting linebackers Chris Borland and Mike Taylor also will be back from injuries, and the offensive line gets a chance to come together after missing several pieces this spring.

2. Backup quarterback: Curt Phillips' torn ACL was the biggest blow of spring ball, and his uncertain return puts redshirt freshman Jon Budmayr in the spotlight. Budmayr struggled in spring scrimmages and needs to elevate his game to be a reliable option behind Tolzien. Tolzien has been both durable and reliable, but Wisconsin needs the talented Budmayr to take a step forward this summer.

3. More options at wideout: Toon should contend for All-Big Ten honors this fall, but Wisconsin needs other wideouts to develop around him. David Gilreath, Isaac Anderson and Kyle Jefferson all have plenty of experience but must be more consistent. Redshirt freshman walk-on Jared Abbrederis made a big splash this spring and could work his way into the mix if he keeps it up.

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