Big Ten: Chicago Bears
- Indiana will be more multiple on defense in 2010, using both three-man and four-man fronts, Dustin Dopirak writes in The (Bloomington) Herald-Times (subscription required).
- There's no official word from Wisconsin on backup quarterback Curt Phillips, but Phillips' knee injury appears serious, Jeff Potrykus writes in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Injuries are piling up throughout the Badgers' offense, Jim Polzin writes in The Capital Times.
- Injuries will also impact Purdue this spring, as linebacker Jason Werner and others are out, Mike Carmin writes in The (Lafayette) Journal and Courier.
- Jobs are open throughout Minnesota's depth chart this spring, including the one at quarterback, John Shipley writes in the (St. Paul) Pioneer Press. The Star Tribune's Kent Youngblood examines key questions for the Gophers as spring ball begins.
- The Chicago Bears were keeping a close eye on Iowa's pro day, ESPNChicago.com's Jeff Dickerson writes. If you missed Marc Morehouse's position-by-position look at Iowa in 2010, check it out here.
- The kicking game is in the spotlight this spring at Michigan, which must replace both starting specialists, annarbor.com's Dave Birkett writes.
- Penn State's turnaround since 2005 can be traced to the signing of heralded recruit Derrick Williams, Matt Brown writes in The Daily Collegian.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
- In case you missed it, Penn State head coach Joe Paterno wants the Big Ten to add a 12th team, ESPN.com's Ivan Maisel writes.
- Justin Boren brings a different look and a different attitude to Ohio State's offensive line, Doug Lesmerises writes in The Cleveland Plain Dealer.
- Thursday marked an emotional day for new College Football Hall of Famers Chris Spielman of Ohio State, Curt Warner of Penn State and Larry Station of Iowa.
- Some recruiting news as both Penn State and Michigan pick up wide receivers for the 2010 class.
- Former Northwestern quarterback C.J. Bacher hopes to catch on with the Chicago Bears, Vaughn McClure writes in the Chicago Tribune.
- Michigan has options at quarterback this fall, and more than one player likely will be in the plans, Angelique Chengelis writes in The Detroit News.
"I got a real good chance [to play this fall]," Denard Robinson said. "It's my gut feeling and the coaches have been telling me I have a chance to start."
- Indiana quarterback Ben Chappell has gone from the best option to the only option, David Robb writes in the Gary Post-Tribune.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Most offensive coordinators are evaluated according to the plays they call, but Northwestern's Mick McCall would rather be judged on his concepts.
McCall works backward with an offense, starting with the players before moving onto the formations and, eventually, the plays. His conceptual approach is designed to maximize the skills of every player, regardless of position.
So when McCall maps out a pass route, the wide receivers aren't the only ones who learn it.
"It might be a tight end the next time, it might be a running back the next time, it might be the second quarterback on the field, I don't know," he said. "That's why we teach together because we're teaching conceptually. Everybody gets taught everything, but everybody can't do everything. That's where we come up with players, formations, plays."
Fortunately for McCall, who enters his first season as Northwestern's offensive coordinator after coming over from Bowling Green, he inherits a deep and versatile group of skill players.
Northwestern's top two running backs, Tyrell Sutton and Omar Conteh, have combined for 134 receptions and six receiving touchdowns in their careers. Andrew Brewer, a projected starter at slot receiver, started three games as a run-first quarterback in 2006. Drake Dunsmore, the team's starting superback (tight end-fullback hybrid), ranked third on the team in yards per reception among players with at least 10 catches last season. Another starting wide receiver, Eric Peterman, came to Northwestern as a quarterback and can do damage as a rusher.
Those players provide options for McCall, whose offense at Bowling Green isn't a dramatic departure from the shotgun spread Northwestern has used since 2000.
"It definitely makes his job a lot easier when you can put guys at X, Y, Z or H," said Sutton, referring to the receiver spots. "We're all interchangeable. With the concepts that we have, you have to know everything. If you don't know, you ain't playing."
Sutton expects to line up as a receiver more this season, but his rushing ability won't be neglected. Northwestern finished last in the Big Ten in rushing offense in 2007 -- Sutton missed almost six games with a high ankle sprain -- but returns two proven backs.
McCall said he'll consider using two-back formations this fall. Though he's primarily known for mentoring standout quarterbacks Josh Harris and Omar Jacobs at Bowling Green, the coach also has a history with the run game.
"You ever heard of P.J. Pope?" Sutton said, referring to the Chicago Bears reserve. "[McCall has] had running backs, too. He was a running back [briefly with the Detroit Lions]. I just found that out. So he knows what he's doing."