Big Ten: Cody Green

Big Ten lunch links

April, 10, 2012
4/10/12
12:00
PM ET
It is forbidden to Silverstone the links.

Big Ten lunchtime links

July, 12, 2011
7/12/11
12:00
PM ET
Is it really an All-Star game if Albert Pujols isn't there?
  • Former Iowa coach Hayden Fry saw winners in Bo Pelini, Kirk Ferentz and many other assistants who went on to big things.

Big Ten lunchtime links

July, 8, 2011
7/08/11
12:00
PM ET
Last links of the week ...
  • Bubba Starling's dad says the quarterback will report to Nebraska this weekend for conditioning, but there are no guarantees that he stays there. Ex-Huskers QB Cody Green is looking at USC, along with Baylor and Tulsa.

Big Ten lunch links

June, 14, 2011
6/14/11
12:00
PM ET
Because of all the Luke Fickell/Ohio State coverage from Monday, we'll split the links into two categories.

LUKE FICKELL/OHIO STATE
OTHER BIG TEN LINKS
Not a revelation here, but Nebraska quarterback Cody Green on Tuesday confirmed he will transfer to another program.

Green and coach Bo Pelini both released statements on Green's departure.
Green: "I have made the decision to look at other options in continuing my education and college football career. I have enjoyed my time at Nebraska and am thankful for my teammates and the opportunities the coaching staff gave me to better myself as a player and a person. The support of the fans here has been great and my time as a Husker will never be forgotten. The decision to leave was very difficult for me and my family. It was by far one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I talked to coach Pelini and he has offered to assist me in finding another school to continue my playing career. I wish coach Pelini and Nebraska nothing but the best this year and in the future."
Pelini: "Cody Green is a tremendous young man and we appreciate the contributions he has made to this football program. Cody feels like it is in his best interest at this time to look at other schools to continue his college career. We will support him in this process and wish him success in the future."

Some classy remarks from Green, who by all accounts is a stand-up guy.

It will be interesting to see where Green ends up. He has two years of eligibility remaining after appearing in 17 games (starting four) the past two seasons for the Huskers.
Wow, I didn't see this coming.

Quarterback Cody Green has requested his release from Nebraska and will transfer, colleague Joe Schad and others are reporting. Green appeared in 17 games the past two season, making four starts for the Huskers. He competed for the starting job this spring, but incumbent Taylor Martinez ended spring practice as Nebraska's No. 1 signal caller. Still, Green indicated he would compete for the long haul.

Nebraska has now lost two quarterbacks this week, as Kody Spano announced he's ending his career because of injuries.

Should the Huskers be a bit concerned about their depth at quarterback?

Martinez can be a game-changer, but he has to stay healthy. He was a totally different quarterback after getting banged up midway through the 2010 season.

Brion Carnes, the Huskers' other scholarship quarterback, looked good in the spring game, but he lacks Green's experience. The biggest question mark is incoming recruit Bubba Starling, who likely would have to pass up a major payday in Major League Baseball to play quarterback for Nebraska. Starling says he'll be enrolling for school July 10.

If Martinez holds up, Carnes keeps developing and Starling sticks with football, Nebraska should be fine. But it would have been nice to have Green for insurance, especially after what happened to Martinez last fall.

Green seems to be looking for more playing time, despite reaffirming his commitment this spring. He told the Lincoln Journal Star in late March:
"I've said ever since I got here that tradition was one of the big reasons why I was here," Green said. "It's the tradition, the people, the family. That's what we are, a big family. We're a big family that will die for each other. You don't want to leave that. It's you. That's one of the main reasons I'm here."
The decision this week to leave Nebraska was excruciatingly difficult for Green, according to a source close to the quarterback. However, it should be noted the two coaches who played lead roles in recruiting Green to NU -- offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson and linebackers coach Mike Ekeler -- no longer are with the program. What's more, the Huskers' offense under new coordinator Tim Beck is expected to feature more running situations for the quarterback, which would be better suited for the ultra-fleet Martinez.

It's a good point about the change on offense. If Green felt he couldn't thrive in the system, it's hard to blame him for seeking a transfer.

Some Huskers fans likely will pass this off as no big deal. But insurance at quarterback can make or break a season, and Green's departure leaves Nebraska in a bit of a bind.

Nebraska spring wrap

May, 4, 2011
5/04/11
8:30
AM ET
Nebraska


2010 overall record: 10-4

2010 conference record: 6-2 in Big 12 (T-1st in Big 12 North)

Returning starters

Offense: 6; defense: 7; kicker/punter: 0

Top returners

DT Jared Crick, LB Lavonte David, CB Alfonzo Dennard, DE Cameron Meredith, QB Taylor Martinez, RB Rex Burkhead, WR Brandon Kinnie, C Mike Caputo, TE Kyler Reed

Key losses

CB Prince Amukamara, DB Dejon Gomes, DB Eric Hagg, DE Pierre Allen, G Ricky Henry, RB Roy Helu Jr., WR Niles Paul, K/P Alex Henery

2010 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Roy Helu Jr. (1,245 yards)

Passing: Taylor Martinez* (1,631 yards)

Receiving: Niles Paul (516 yards)

Tackles: Lavonte David* (152)

Sacks: Jared Crick* (9.5)

Interceptions: Eric Hagg (5)

Spring answers

1. Flippin' out: Nebraska entered the spring needing more options at receiver, and freshman Jamal Turner made it very clear he can contribute this season. Turner, who switched to receiver from quarterback, made the most memorable play of the spring game when he scored on an electrifying 49-yard catch and run, capping things with a flip into the end zone. He recorded 228 all-purpose yards in only seven touches in the game. Speedster Kenny Bell also drew praise this spring and should help the pass attack.

2. D-line depth: Injuries to starters Jared Crick (knee) and Cameron Meredith (shoulder) allowed other players to gain increased reps this spring. The result is what defensive coordinator Carl Pelini calls the deepest line he has had at Nebraska. Converted linebacker Eric Martin had a strong spring and looks like the replacement for Pierre Allen at end. Players like Thaddeus Randle, Jay Guy and Kevin Williams add to the depth at defensive tackle.

3. Rex 'n effect: The run game will drive Nebraska's offense this fall, and junior I-back Rex Burkhead looks ready to lead the way. Burkhead had a strong spring and capped the session with 91 rush yards on 11 carries in the spring game, gaining seven yards or more on eight carries. Burkhead seemed to grasp the new offense well, and while heralded incoming freshman Aaron Green and others will be in the mix for carries this fall, Rex is the Huskers' most reliable option.

Fall questions

1. Taylor Martinez: T-Magic drew some good reviews this spring and showed a greater willingness to be a public face for the team, but he struggled in the spring game (4-for-13 passing) and battled a toe injury for part of the session. We saw last season that Martinez isn't nearly the same player when he's limited, so he needs to get healthy and continue making strides this summer. Coach Bo Pelini says Martinez is his starter if the season started today, but others like Cody Green and spring game star Brion Carnes are in the mix.

2. Offensive line: The Big Ten's best teams typically boast elite offensive lines, and Nebraska's front has drawn mixed reviews the past few seasons. Nebraska must replace three starters, including first-team All-Big 12 guard Ricky Henry. Line coach Barney Cotton wants to play 8-10 men up front, which should keep players fresh in Tim Beck's fast-paced offense. Center Mike Caputo is a nice piece to build around, but Nebraska needs others to step up.

3. Oh, Henery: Nebraska fans could take the kicking game for granted in recent years as All-American Alex Henery did it all at an extremely high level. Replacing Henery will be a big storyline as the Huskers enter a league where weather can have a major effect on kicking and punting. Brett Maher looked good in the spring game, drilling three field goals, including the winner. The Huskers need continued improvement from Maher, who could handle all the kicking duties, although scholarship kicker Mauro Bondi arrives this summer.

Spring game recap: Nebraska

April, 18, 2011
4/18/11
9:00
AM ET
I'll be taking a quick look at all six of the spring games/scrimmages played Saturday around the Big Ten.

First up is Nebraska, which held its annual Red-White Spring game at Memorial Stadium. The Red team prevailed 32-29 as Brent Maher connected on a 39-yard field goal as time expired.

Game coverage: Here and here and here and here.

Quotable: "We mixed and matched a lot of personnel, so there wasn't a lot of continuity out there. I thought it was a good game to watch. Hopefully the fans enjoyed it. The players enjoyed it. There were some good things. Obviously we were very, very basic. ... That's how we chose to play the game, but the most important thing is no one got seriously hurt, which is always a plus." -- Nebraska coach Bo Pelini

Highlights
  • The offense kept it basic with the scheme, but freshman wide receiver Jamal Turner still wowed the crowd with his speed and play-making ability. Turner had a dynamic 49-yard touchdown reception where he leaped between two defenders to make the catch and then broke a tackle before somersaulting into the end zone (drawing a celebration penalty). He recorded four receptions for 93 yards and added returns of 59 yards (punt) and 54 yards (kickoff). Turner finished with 228 all-purpose yards. You can't read too much into a spring game, but Nebraska needs help at receiver, and Turner certainly looks like a guy who can contribute this fall. "He brings a really good element," Pelini said.
  • While top quarterbacks Taylor Martinez (4-for-13 passing, one interception) and Cody Green (4-for-10 passing) both struggled a bit, redshirt freshman Brion Carnes had a very nice performance. Carnes completed 11 of 15 passes for 173 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. He added nine carries for 40 yards. Although he did most of the damage against third- and fourth-string defenders, Carnes has to enter the summer with some confidence. "He shows flashes," Pelini said. "He has a lot of ability, but he's still swimming in it a little bit. Even as basic as we were today, there are a lot of things he needs to improve upon and can get better at. But you see signs that he's going to be a good football player in time."
  • Eric Martin stood out on defense as he hopes to secure a starting spot at end. Martin recorded four tackles, two for loss, and a forced fumble, doing all of his damage in the first few minutes of the game. A standout on special teams who alternated between linebacker and end last season, Martin has solidified himself as a lineman.
  • Maher had a very busy day on special teams. In addition to punting six times (49.3-yard average), Maher made four field goals, two from 39 yards and two from 25 yards. He could handle punting, kickoffs and field goals this fall as Nebraska looks to replace All-American Alex Henery.
Since many of you have asked, I won't be attending any spring games this weekend (or next, for that matter). It's a little tough to explain to non-media folks, but I get a lot more out of visiting campuses midweek than for spring games, when things are chaotic. The good news: I'll recap every spring game Monday.

Now it's time to preview the six Big Ten spring games on tap Saturday (in reverse alphabetical order) ...

PENN STATE

The vitals: Blue-White Game presented by AAA kicks off at 2 p.m. ET Saturday at Beaver Stadium; admission and parking are free

More details: Penn State has a pregame autograph session and a ton of events planned for the weekend. All the information can be found here.

Three things to watch

1. The quarterbacks: The race for the starting job has been the top story at Penn State this spring, and all four candidates will be on the field Saturday. Most eyes will be on sophomore Rob Bolden and junior Matt McGloin, who split the starts in 2010 and have paced one another throughout the spring. Both players have impressed the coaches, who likely won't name a starter until the summer. Saturday marks the final chance for Bolden and McGloin to showcase their abilities for the coaches and fans before spring ball concludes.

2. Line play: Penn State has to upgrade both lines if it wants to contend in the Leaders division this season. The Lions have very little depth at defensive end because of injuries, but fans should keep an eye on defensive tackles Devon Still, Jordan Hill and Brandon Ware, all of whom have drawn praise from the coaches this spring. Penn State needs a big year from its interior linemen. The offensive line boasts four seniors and should be solid at the tackle spots, but it'll be interesting to see how the guards and centers perform as Penn State must replace standout Stefen Wisniewski.

3. Running backs: Injuries will keep several Penn State playmakers on the sideline Saturday, but fans should get a clear read on the running backs. There's a lot of hype for Silas Redd after a solid freshman season, but he's being pushed by Stephfon Green and Brandon Beachum, who has stood out this spring after missing all of last season with a torn ACL. Green and Redd both have breakaway ability, while Beachum could be the power back Penn State has missed in recent years.

NORTHWESTERN

The vitals: The spring football "exhibition," which will be more of a situational scrimmage, kicks off at noon CT (1 p.m. ET) at Ryan Field; admission and parking are free but fans are encouraged to bring nonperishable canned-food items for a food drive.

More details: Northwestern is holding a youth football clinic and several other events. All the info can be found here.

Three things to watch

1. The race for backup QB: All-Big Ten selection Dan Persa is on track to return by late May or early June, but he won't be taking any snaps Saturday. Northwestern will divide the reps evenly between three signal-callers -- sophomore Kain Colter, junior Evan Watkins and redshirt freshman Trevor Siemian -- vying to play behind Persa this season. Colter is the most intriguing candidate after a breakout performance against Texas Tech in the TicketCity Bowl, but all three players have endured some ups and downs this spring.

2. New faces on defense: The coaches feel they've upgraded the athleticism on defense with recent recruiting, especially at spots like linebacker and defensive back. Northwestern's defense looked slow and overmatched at times last season, and quite a few jobs are open this spring. Keep an eye on players such as linebackers David Nwabuisi and Damian Proby and redshirt freshman safety Ibraheim Campbell, a player coach Pat Fitzgerald has praised multiple times this spring.

3. The running backs: Persa carried the run game in 2010 but admits he took too many shots and will try to limit the damage this fall. He could use more help from a run game that has suffered since Tyrell Sutton graduated. Mike Trumpy provided a spark late last year and has had a good spring, and Adonis Smith has a year under his belt. Keep an eye on Tyris Jones, a physical runner who has stepped up this spring as a running back/H-back.

(Read full post)

Big Ten scrimmage notes

April, 11, 2011
4/11/11
1:30
PM ET
The Big Ten featured only one spring game this weekend, but plenty of teams took to the field for scrimmages. I've compiled some scrimmage highlights from around the league based on reports from official team websites and other media sources. Several teams didn't provide specifics about their scrimmages, but I included what I could find.

ILLINOIS

The Illini scrimmaged for about 90 minutes Saturday, and all players were involved in contact aside from starting quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase.

Notes
  • The offense prevailed in the scrimmage and gashed the defense for several big runs. Troy Pollard took most of the reps at running back as Jason Ford sat out with a sore knee, and Pollard helped his cause with 110 rush yards on 19 carries. Scheelhaase completed 7 of 12 passes for 53 yards and added 58 yards on the ground, while backup Miles Osei had a 63-yards pass to Fred Sykes and finished the day with 165 yards through the air.
  • Coach Ron Zook singled out linebacker Houston Bates for his play in the scrimmage. Bates had a sack and a quarterback hurry. He saw increased playing time after Jonathan Brown was kicked out of the scrimmage after throwing a punch and drawing a personal foul penalty.
INDIANA

The Hoosiers held their second scrimmage of the spring Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium. Check out coach Kevin Wilson's thoughts as well as some highlights.

Notes
  • The offense got the best of the defense Saturday after the D shined in Indiana's previous scrimmage. Receivers Duwyce Wilson and Kofi Hughes stood out in the highlights Indiana showed on its website, as Hughes had a long touchdown reception and Wilson was forced out just shy of the goal line. Both players have been impressive this spring and should complement top wideout Damarlo Belcher in the fall.
IOWA

No official information from Iowa's scrimmage Saturday, but here's a photo gallery and some recent player interviews from the team's website.

MICHIGAN

No official information from Michigan's scrimmage Saturday, but here are video interviews with defensive tackle Mike Martin and offensive lineman Patrick Omameh. Running backs Vincent Smith, Michael Cox and Stephen Hopkins had some nice runs in the video highlights.

MICHIGAN STATE

The Spartans held their first jersey scrimmage Friday and the defense prevailed 55-45 in a modified scoring system. The defense had 18 ways to score points, while the offense had 11 ways to score, including touchdowns and field goals.

Notes
  • The defense dominated the scrimmage, holding the offense without a first down on the first five possessions and without points for the first 13 possessions. Michigan State's D recorded three sacks and two interceptions during the stifling stanza. The only two touchdowns scored came during the goal line and red zone portions of the scrimmage.
  • Defensive ends William Gholston and Tyler Hoover combined for nine tackles, three tackles for loss, a sack and a pass breakup. Sophomore linebacker TyQuan Hammock recorded an interception. "The defense played well -- tackled effectively, pressured the quarterback and came away with some turnovers," coach Mark Dantonio said in a news release.
  • Starting quarterback Kirk Cousins had a rough day (6-for-16 passing, 41 yards, INT), although he didn't get much help from his receivers, who dropped three passes. Backup Andrew Maxwell completed 15 of 26 passes for 116 yards with an interception.
  • The touchdowns came from Edwin Baker (22-yard run) and Le'Veon Bell (6-yard run). Receiver Keith Mumphery caught a 43-yard pass from Maxwell.
MINNESOTA

The Gophers scrimmaged Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium and ran about 120 plays.

Notes
  • Minnesota's defense held the upper hand as the offense struggled to gain a first down early in the scrimmage. The defensive line had a very good day as tackles Brandon Jacobs and Brandon Kirksey both stood out. Jacobs sacked No. 1 quarterback MarQueis Gray and Kirksey recorded a blocked field goal attempt. Ends D.L. Wilhite and Ra'Shede Hageman also made some plays. "The defensive line got up the field a lot more than we have been. [It was] a lot more aggressive," coach Jerry Kill told reporters. "And we need that. We need more push. We had nine sacks last year, and that can't happen."
  • Gray and top receiver Da'Jon McKnight hooked up on receptions of 45 and 20 yards. McKnight also recorded a punt block in the scrimmage.
  • Reserve quarterback Tom Parish threw two interceptions and fumbled a snap. Moses Alipate ran a few series at quarterback and led a scoring drive.
NEBRASKA

The Huskers ran about 150 plays in a scrimmage Saturday in Lincoln. Quarterbacks Brion Carnes, Cody Green and Kody Spano took most of the reps and drew praise from coach Bo Pelini.
  • The coaches limited reps for quarterback Taylor Martinez after the sophomore hurt his toe in a recent workout. Running back Rex Burkhead participated in the scrimmage and "looked great," according to Pelini, although Burkhead's reps were limited as well.
  • Nebraska had two false-start penalties and one fumble during the scrimmage. "That's not bad," Pelini said. "Most of it is with the young guys. It shows me the emphasis is working and there's progress, but one's too many as far I'm concerned."
NORTHWESTERN

The Wildcats scrimmaged Saturday in Evanston in preparation for this week's spring game.

Notes
  • Top running back Mike Trumpy had runs of 33 and 25 yards, while Tyris Jones added a scoring run. Jones has had a really nice spring for the Wildcats, who are looking for more options in the backfield.
  • Trevor Siemian and Evan Watkins took the reps at quarterback as Kain Colter was held out of the scrimmage. Siemian completed 8 of 12 passes for 86 yards with an interception, while Watkins, victimized by dropped passes, completed 8 of 21 passes for 71 yards and a touchdown strike to Charles Brown.
  • Defensive end Tyler Scott picked off Siemian on the second play of the scrimmage. Siemian later responded with a 36-yard pass to Rashad Lawrence. Demetrius Fields led the receivers with five receptions, while walk-on Torin Dupper had three catches for 46 yards.
OHIO STATE

The Buckeyes held a special-teams scrimmage followed by a full jersey scrimmage Saturday in Ohio Stadium. The team went through about 20 possessions and the offense prevailed 56-45.
  • Receiver DeVier Posey recorded two touchdown receptions, a 33-yarder from Joe Bauserman and an 8-yarder from Taylor Graham. Freshman quarterback Braxton Miller had the only other touchdown of the scrimmage on an 11-yard run.
  • Bauserman completed passes of 33 and 16 yards and also threw an interception on a pass tipped by defensive lineman John Simon. Graham completed 10 of 20 passes for 80 yards, while Miller hit on 4 of 6 passes for 43 yards and looked impressive on the touchdown run. Kenny Guiton struggled at quarterback, leading the offense to only one score (field goal) in six possessions.
  • Posey recorded five receptions for 83 yards and two scores, while the other scholarship wideouts combined for only five receptions. Think Ohio State will miss No. 8 in the first five games?
  • Senior running back Dan Herron didn't get much work Saturday, and Jaamal Berry and Rod Smith stood out among the backs with several nice gains.
  • Defensive linemen Adam Bellamy and Melvin Fellows both recorded sacks, while other defensive standouts included cornerback Travis Howard and linebacker Etienne Sabino.
PENN STATE

The Lions scrimmaged Saturday, but there's not much info out there aside from this (must pay for content).

WISCONSIN

The Badgers held a scrimmage Saturday, running more than 120 snaps, and coach Bret Bielema shares his thoughts here.
  • Sophomore linebacker Conor O'Neill had a big day with interceptions on back-to-back plays, picking off Joe Brennan and Joel Stave. Wisconsin auditioned O'Neill at safety last year, and his experience defending the pass is paying off.
  • Bielema said center Peter Konz will miss the rest of the spring because of ankle and knee injuries. Konz will undergo minor knee surgery and should be fine for fall camp. Versatile sophomore Ryan Groy is seeing time at center and can play all three interior line spots.
  • Remember Zach Brown? The running back is still around in Madison and hopes to enter a crowded backfield this fall. Brown had a 17-yard touchdown reception and an 8-yard scoring run Saturday. "Zach is an angry running back," Bielema told reporters. "Everybody wants to talk about those other guys. People forget he ran for 200 yards [in a game] as a freshman, and he has won some games for us."

Big Ten lunch links

April, 4, 2011
4/04/11
12:00
PM ET
Visited the Indiana schools during the weekend, and three more programs are on the docket this week. Busy times for the Big Ten blog.

Opening spring ball: Nebraska

March, 11, 2011
3/11/11
10:30
AM ET
Nebraska doesn't officially open spring practice until Saturday, but let's get a head start on the Big Ten's newest member with this spring snapshot.

The big story: Bo Pelini has reshaped his coaching staff, and the biggest change comes on the offensive side, as Tim Beck takes over at coordinator for Shawn Watson. Nebraska's offense backslid toward the end of the 2010 season, and Beck isn't afraid to start over with the system and his philosophy, so some changes can be expected. Nebraska likely will run some version of the spread, but who calls the signals and what elements are emphasized remains to be seen.

Position in the spotlight: Quarterback. The competition is on as Taylor Martinez tries to show Beck that he deserves the right to retain the top job. Beck spoke highly of incoming freshman Jamal Turner in a recent interview, and other signal callers like Cody Green also are in the mix. Martinez dazzled us in the first half of the 2010 season, but he'll need to adjust to Beck and the new system and turn in a strong spring.

Coaching changes: In addition to promoting Beck, Pelini hired four new assistant coaches. Ross Els (linebackers) and Corey Raymond (secondary) will work with a talent-stocked defense, while Rich Fisher (receivers) and John Garrison (assistant offensive line) will aid Beck in the offensive makeover. Fisher is the most interesting new arrival. He most recently coached high school football and also served as a golf teaching professional in the Boston area after leaving the college coaching ranks in 2003. Nebraska also had Ron Brown move from tight ends coach to running backs coach.

Keep an eye on: Kenny Bell. Nebraska needs some playmakers to emerge at receiver, and Bell could fit the bill. He boasts top-end speed and will have a chance to claim an enhanced role this spring after redshirting in 2010.

Spring game: April 16
Our Big Ten spring preview continues with a look at the Legends Division.

IOWA

Start of spring practice: March 23
Spring game: April 16

What to watch:
  • Succession plan for Stanzi: Remember James Vandenberg? The plucky young quarterback who nearly led Iowa to a milestone win at Ohio State in 2009 returns to the spotlight as Iowa looks to replace three-year starter Ricky Stanzi. Vandenberg had only eight pass attempts in 2010, so it'll be interesting to see how he adjusts to a potential featured role. John Wienke and A.J. Derby also will be in the mix.
  • A new-look defensive front: Iowa loses three multiyear starters along the defensive line, all of whom likely will go onto the NFL. Mike Daniels and Broderick Binns return, but Iowa must begin building depth around them after not playing a large rotation of linemen in 2010. It'll be a big spring for reserve defensive linemen like Lebron Daniel and Steve Bigach.
  • Rhabdo fallout: Iowa expects the 13 players hospitalized last month with rhabdomyolysis to be ready for spring ball, but there are questions about how the group responds to the rigors of practice. Expect the staff to take every precaution to make sure the players are ready to go. Iowa's internal investigation into what happened could reach its conclusion during the spring practice session.
MICHIGAN

Start of spring practice: March 19
Spring game: April 16

What to watch:
  • Hoke springs eternal: All eyes will be on new coach Brady Hoke as he oversees his first 15 practice sessions as the leading man in Ann Arbor. Hoke and his staff introduce new offensive and defensive systems, and Hoke likely will spend much of his time with a defense that reached historic lows during former coach Rich Rodriguez's tenure. An adjustment period can be expected, but Hoke wants to get things rolling as soon as he can.
  • Denard Robinson: The 2010 Big Ten offensive player of the year thrived in Rodriguez's spread offense. How will he be used in coordinator Al Borges' system? Will Robinson's unique talents still be maximized? After making major strides last offseason, Robinson must continue to grow as he adjusts to a new offense. This is also a big spring for backup quarterback Devin Gardner.
  • The move to the 4-3: Michigan is going back to a 4-3 defensive alignment under coordinator Greg Mattison, and the transition begins this spring. The defensive front has to lead the way, and the personnel is there to get it done. The Wolverines are a little thinner at linebacker, but saw some encouraging signs from Kenny Demens this past fall. Others must emerge at the position this spring.
MICHIGAN STATE

Start of spring practice: March 29
Spring game: April 30

What to watch:
  • Familiar face, new leadership: Dan Roushar takes over as Spartans offensive coordinator, and while you shouldn't expect many dramatic changes, the veteran assistant will put his personal touch on the system. Roushar wants to fully re-establish the run game Michigan State displayed in the early part of the 2010 season. It'll also be interesting to see how he works with quarterback Kirk Cousins.
  • Reloading at linebacker: Michigan State loses two of the more productive linebackers in recent team history in Greg Jones and Eric Gordon. Returning starter Chris Norman will take on an enhanced role, and the spring will be big for younger linebackers like Max Bullough, Steve Gardiner and Denicos Allen.
  • Elevating the O-line play: You can bet Roushar will have an eye on his old position group, the offensive line, as it replaces starters at both tackle spots and at center. If Michigan State can get its offensive line play where competitors like Iowa and Wisconsin have it, the Spartans will be Big Ten title contenders for years to come. Michigan State has some nice pieces like veteran guard Joel Foreman, but it must build depth this spring.
MINNESOTA

Start of spring practice: March 24
Spring game: April 23

What to watch:
  • A time to Kill. Jerry Kill conducts his first 15 practices as Minnesota's coach and he has no shortage of challenges. He and his assistants must install new systems on both sides of the ball and, perhaps more importantly, get across their expectations for the players going forward. Kill wasn't overly thrilled with his first impression of the squad, so he has a lot of work to do.
  • Gray back at QB: After a season playing primarily wide receiver, MarQueis Gray is back at his preferred position of quarterback. Kill and his assistants made no secret of the fact that they see tremendous potential in Gray, a dual-threat signal-caller who could end up being a terrific fit for Kill's offense. It will be interesting to see how much Gray can absorb this spring as he prepares to lead the unit.
  • Kim Royston's return: Minnesota's defense got a huge boost when the NCAA somewhat surprisingly granted safety Kim Royston a sixth year of eligibility. Royston, who had a strong season in 2009 before breaking his leg last spring, is ready to go and should provide some much-needed leadership in the secondary. New defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys will be on the lookout for playmakers and leaders this spring, and he'll find one in Royston.
NEBRASKA

Start of spring practice: March 12
Spring game: April 16

What to watch:
  • New vision on offense: Nebraska likely will have a championship-level defense in 2011, but will the offense bounce back from a poor finish to last season? Tim Beck is the man pegged to get things back on track. Coach Bo Pelini promoted Beck to offensive coordinator, and Beck will begin to implement his vision for the unit this spring. Nebraska figures to stick with the spread, but what version Beck wants to use remains to be seen.
  • The quarterbacks: Taylor Martinez stiff-armed the transfer rumors, and in January said he looked forward "getting healthy and getting my strength and speed back." The big question: Will he also get his job back as Nebraska's starting quarterback? Martinez can help himself with a strong spring, but Cody Green also is in the mix and things could get very interesting if Bubba Starling decides to stick with football rather than pursue a pro baseball career.
  • New faces on staff: In addition to promoting Beck, Pelini hired three new assistants: Corey Raymond (secondary), Ross Els (linebackers) and Rich Fisher (receivers). Raymond takes over a talented group that must replace three standout players, including cornerback Prince Amukamara. It'll be interesting to watch Fisher, who most recently coached in high school and also served as a golf teacher, as he transitions back to big-time football.
NORTHWESTERN

Start of spring practice: March 7
Spring game: April 16

What to watch:
  • Rebuilding the defense: Northwestern figures to have one of the Big Ten's top offenses this fall, but there are major issues on the other side of the ball. The Wildcats' defense flat-lined in the final three games, surrendering 163 points and getting dominated at the line of scrimmage. It's a big spring for coordinator Mike Hankwitz, who must fill gaps at spots like linebacker, but more importantly must restore the aggressiveness seen in 2008 and part of 2009.
  • The backup QB race: Dan Persa is still rehabbing his surgically repaired Achilles' tendon and won't do much in spring ball. It provides an opportunity for Northwestern to hold an extensive competition to see who backs up Persa this coming season. Kain Colter provided a spark in the bowl game and could be the answer. Evan Watkins needs a bounce-back spring, and Trevor Siemian will be in the mix after redshirting this past fall.
  • Here's the kicker: Northwestern loses four-year starting specialist Stefan Demos and will look to identify a replacement this spring. Neither Jeff Budzien nor Steve Flaherty has attempted a field goal in a game -- they have combined for two PAT conversions -- so the race will be wide open. Special teams has cost Northwestern at inopportune times over the years, but it could be an area of strength in 2011 if the kicker situation is sorted out.
Nebraska is officially part of the Big Ten blog, and the welcome wagon hasn't stopped rolling.

To help us learn more about the Huskers, I've reached out to colleague David Ubben from the Big 12 blog. David knows all about Big Red and covered Nebraska during its transition from the Big 12 to the Big Ten. After being nice enough to hand off the Huskers -- actually, I had to pry them from his hands -- Ubben took some time to talk about the Big Ten's newest member.

Let's go back to June 11. What was your initial reaction to Nebraska leaving the Big 12 for the Big Ten?

David Ubben: Ha, well it was certainly an unpopular one among the Nebraska supporters. I thought it was a great move for the university and the football program, but a huge, huge blow to the future stability of the Big 12.

In short, I equated Nebraska leaving to pulling the pin on the Texas Grenade that would blow up the Big 12.

Obviously, that's not what ended up happening, and for a fan base that since June has despised all things Big 12, I was surprised at how much the Huskers didn't want to be blamed for the Big 12's demise. One would think they would relish in it.

At the core, I think there was some fear from fans that their Huskers might be villainized as a program for the self-serving move, but that's not at all what happened to Arkansas, who certainly did much of the same thing to the Southwest Conference when it left for the SEC.

Back to your original question, though, Nebraska leaving definitely meant a weaker Big 12 if it continued to exist moving forward, and anyone who wants to try to argue otherwise is kidding themselves. Nebraska did what it needed to do: secure infinitely more stability and a good amount of cash with a move to the Big Ten, as well as the academic prestige that comes with, to borrow a phrase from deservedly maligned Missouri governor Jay Nixon, aligning themselves with Northwestern and Wisconsin rather than Texas Tech and Oklahoma State.

Yeah, anytime a school wants to upgrade its league, it should remember Mizzou and do exactly the opposite. But back to Nebraska. People know about the national championships, Dr. Tom and the option offense. What should Big Ten fans know about the current Nebraska program and its fan base as the Huskers transition to the conference?

[+] EnlargeMemorial Stadium
Eric Francis/Getty ImagesNebraska's Memorial Stadium has been sold out for every single home game since Nov. 3, 1962.
DU: Nebraska's biggest asset is its fan base. People like to knock Huskers fans for being a bit full of themselves, but they have reason to be. They're going to rival any team in the Big Ten when it comes to traveling for road games. Prepare yourselves for a sea of red in your stadiums when Nebraska comes.

One big reason? It might be tougher to get a ticket to see the Huskers in Lincoln. Every single home game has been sold out since Nov. 3, 1962, a streak of 311 games. That's an NCAA record, of course. The ones who do make it into Memorial Stadium on fall Saturdays enter under permanent signs that read "Through these gates pass the Greatest Fans in College Football."

Is it obnoxious? Yes. Will it turn off a few opposing fans? Most definitely.

But I would argue that it's not inaccurate.

Husker fans are voracious supporters. They love their team. They know their team. They read about and are opinionated about their team. They spend money on their team. Any other fan base should admire at least that much. Because of that devotion, among other things, the program is one of college football's blue bloods and is able to make a big move that will benefit the program tremendously.

Let's talk about the team itself. Bo Pelini is an Ohio guy, and his track record on defense speaks for itself. Nebraska has seemed more up and down on the offensive side. How do you see the Huskers' style translating to the Big Ten?

DU: That's presuming Nebraska has an offensive style. Nebraska was all about the run early in the year, and ran over and around just about everybody in the first half of the season. Since no one could stop it, they didn't have to throw much, and when they did, they were so, so dangerous.

But the offense slowed late in the season, and I thought they relied on Taylor Martinez to simply drop back and pass way too often and didn't run the zone read enough.

The latest word from Nebraska's recruits is they want an offense that most closely resembles Oregon's, likely minus the dizzying tempo. Offensive coordinator Shawn Watson would describe his offense as a bit of a hybrid between Oregon's offense and the West Coast passing attack, but he looks like he's on his way out.

I'm a big believer that you have to do what suits your personnel, and with a zone-read whiz like Martinez and quality running backs like Nebraska has, it would seem that's a good fit.

On the whole, though, Martinez has to continue to develop as a passer to really give the best defenses trouble. How much of that happens over the next three years will determine how successful they ultimately are. If he can't do it, there's nothing saying he's guaranteed to be the starter above incoming freshmen Bubba Starling (if he stays with football and doesn't sign an MLB contract) and Jamal Turner. Even Cody Green, who played when Martinez was injured this year, could earn some quality snaps if Martinez struggles as a sophomore.

Wow, sounds like we could soon have a QB controversy. Interesting. What do you think will be the biggest adjustments for Nebraska in transitioning from the Big 12 to the Big Ten?

DU: I'm a big believer in Pelini as a defensive coach, so I think they'll be able to make these adjustments eventually, but they're going to have to change the type of players they recruit defensively. You need so many defensive backs (and good ones) to have success in the Big 12, and winning the line of scrimmage will put you over the top, but teams like Missouri and Texas Tech have had success in the league without doing it on a consistent basis.

The Big Ten is all about the beef up front. The Huskers are big and fast on the defensive line with guys like Jared Crick and Baker Steinkuhler. I don't see many problems there.

Nebraska's best linebacker this year, Lavonte David, made a Big 12-best 152 tackles. He also happens to be 210 pounds. Players like him, while they're incredibly valuable in the Big 12 for their ability to make plays in coverage and provide a speed rush, will be marginalized in Nebraska's future for bigger, run-stopping linebackers.

There will be all kinds of things that will have to change, but the type of defensive personnel will be No. 1 on the list. Specifically, Nebraska will need more, bigger linebackers and fewer defensive backs.

Nebraska always has recruited so well in the state of Texas. How do you think the move to the Big Ten will impact Nebraska's recruiting strategy?

[+] EnlargeJamal Turner
Cliff Welch/Icon SMI Now that it's left the Big 12, Nebraska will have more difficulty luring elite Texas high school players like Jamal Turner.
DU: Oh, what a contentious question. So, so much disagreement on this issue.

I don't think there will be a time when Nebraska just has no one from Texas, but their success in the state will take a considerable hit with the move. I do believe the Huskers should continue to recruit the state, but I also think they need to take some of those efforts and resources previously allocated toward Texas and use them to start scraping the Rust Belt and compete with their new conference mates, rather than their old ones.

Pelini knows the area well, and I think the Huskers will have some success doing it. They had a huge year in 2011 in Texas, getting three top-tier, ESPNU 150 players in ATH/QB Jamal Turner, RB Aaron Green and CB Charles Jackson.

I do believe they can keep getting some talent like that in 2012 and 2013, but as recruits and their families really realize what life is like as a parent of a Texas kid playing in the Big Ten, they'll realize why so few Texas recruits elect to play in the Big Ten. I talked with Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville about this issue last week actually, and he said for most families, it's a huge deal. Watching on TV simply isn't the same thing as going to games, home or away. And the facts are, a lot of families can't afford to fly to a ton of games.

Nebraska traditionally only played one or two games in Texas during a season, three if they made the Big 12 title game and it was in Texas. That doesn't sound like many, but look at it this way, unless you can pay for a flight or make a ridiculously long drive, you're talking about going four or five months without seeing your son versus around two or fewer if they play games in Texas.

So in short, I don't think there will be a time when Nebraska absolutely can't recruit in Texas, but they need to take advantage of their new opportunities in Ohio and Michigan, too, as compensation for the guys who won't want to play up North.

OK, you're on the spot. How do the Huskers fare in Year 1 in the Big Ten, which has already branded them a legendary team in the Legends division?

DU: The Big Ten certainly didn't do them any favors with their first-year schedule, booking them for trips to Wisconsin, Penn State and Michigan. Hosting Iowa, Michigan State and Ohio State is going to be tough, and they have to play the Buckeyes in the first game with their five suspended players back. Who knows what happens there?

With a still-maturing passer who won't have a ton of help at receiver, they'll have some struggles offensively, but they should be solid again on the defensive end.

I'll say 9-3 or 8-4. Short of what you might call a Legendary season, but certainly a good one.

Thanks to David for his time, and stay tuned as we'll both have more on Nebraska's move to the Big Ten.

Big Ten mailblog

February, 8, 2011
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You know how to reach me. And if you're not following me on Twitter, you should turn in your Big Ten fan card.

Rolf from Kirkland, Wash., writes: Hello Adam,I have a question about the spring games. How come Ohio State gets practice started so late (March 31st) in the year? Then they have their spring game april 23rd. Does this mean they don't practice as much??? Other teams get started earlier and finish at the same time.

Adam Rittenberg: Rolf, every FBS team gets 15 spring practices, and you better believe they use all of them. Ohio State tends to use more practices in a smaller window because it's on the quarter system and wants to start spring ball after spring break. Spring quarter classes at Ohio State begin March 28 and practice kicks off three days later. Some teams will begin spring practice before spring break, take a chunk of time off and then resume the workouts. Nebraska and Northwestern are both going this route with their spring practice sessions.


Ben from Lincoln, Neb., writes: How well do you think Nebraska will do next year with it being their first year playing against teams that have bigger and stronger players? And who do you think will get the starting QB job at Nebraska? everyone here is hoping on it being Bubba Starling but i dont want another freshman to take the starting job.

Adam Rittenberg: I'm not too concerned about Nebraska's defense adjusting to Big Ten play. Although the Huskers aren't the biggest defense, they make up for it with speed and athleticism. I think there will be some growing pains on offense with most likely a new play-caller. The quarterback situation will be interesting to watch. Taylor Martinez could regain his form when healthy, and Cody Green has some experience. We've got to see what Starling does with his baseball career, but he'll be one to watch if he sticks with football. Jamal Turner also is a heralded prospect, but I see your point about wanting to avoid another freshman quarterback.


David from Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., writes: Adam, it is amazing to me how Ohio State seems untouchable as a program despite a myriad of issues ranging from the Jim O'Brien issues to all of the Tyrell Pryor issues, to the players selling their trophies an the like to the now Carter decision. No matter what happpens, it seems like Ohio State skates by and gets at worst a slap on the wrist. Any other program in the Big Ten would be villified and nothing seems to happen to Ohio State. Please explain.

Adam Rittenberg: David, while it's easy to group all of these situations together, I don't think it's the fair approach. Each situation must be examined individually. Some would argue that Ohio State is being hit pretty hard for players selling their memorabilia -- a five-game suspension isn't nothing. And while the rule that allowed the players to participate in the Sugar Bowl is highly questionable, it applies to every school, not just Ohio State. The Chris Carter Jr. decision had to do with the legal system in Cleveland. Ohio State wasn't involved. And while there has been a lot of buzz around Terrelle Pryor, no explicit violations have been brought to light aside from the memorabilia selling.


Matt from Los Angeles writes: Adam, Love reading the blog, keep up the good work.I was wondering what your take is on the Badgers losing Running Backs coach John Settle. He seems to have always gotten the most out of his stable of backs at Wisconsin, and he was also a valuable recruiter. Who do you think steps up to fill the spot, and how big is this loss?

Adam Rittenberg: In my view, Settle is one of the nation's top assistant coaches, and he definitely leaves a void on Bret Bielema's staff. I loved the way he always encouraged competition among his players. No one ever got too comfortable, and all of his backs seemed to improve over time. The good news is Wisconsin will be a very attractive job for top running back coaches. The team boasts an incredible tradition at the running back spot, and the new coach inherits a ton of talent in Madison. I agree with you that Bielema not only has to find a good coach, but someone who can recruit well nationally, especially in the southeast. It'll be interesting to see who gets the job.


Jonathan from Indiana writes: Will Edward Wright-Baker be Indiana's starting quarterback or will there be open competition for guys like Tre Roberson or Dusty Kiel to win the starting job?

Adam Rittenberg: Jonathan, there certainly will be open competition at Indiana, as no one did enough behind Ben Chappell to deserve the job handed to them. Wright-Baker is a gifted athlete who could do well in Kevin Wilson's offense, but Kiel also is right there in the mix. Roberson also brings a lot to the table, and while it'd be a bit surprising if he won the job, no one could see Rob Bolden claiming Penn State's starting quarterback spot as a true freshman. So anything is possible in Bloomington.


Paul from Grand Rapids, Mich., writes: Hey Adam, what are the odds that Braxton Miller starts the first game for the Buckeyes? I know Bauserman is in the mix, but I'd much rather see Brax play based on what I've seen out of each of them. Do you think Tressel will try to be loyal to his senior? Who else is in the mix?

Adam Rittenberg: Paul, I'm sure we'll debate this situation to death from now until September, but it will be very interesting to see what The Vest decides. Tressel typically goes with experience, but I don't think Bauserman has shown enough in games to be the clear choice. When you've been a backup with virtually no chance of starting until now, it can be hard to flip the switch mentally. But Bauserman and Kenny Guiton certainly are in the mix along with Miller. This should be considered an open competition, and Miller will have a chance to prove himself in spring ball, something Terrelle Pryor couldn't do because he didn't arrive until the summer. I wouldn't count out Guiton, either. He showed some promise in the spring game last year and drew praise from QBs coach Nick Siciliano for quickly absorbing the system.

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