Big Ten: Marshal Yanda

Big Ten lunch links

January, 31, 2013
1/31/13
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The links aren't going anywhere, but the Big Ten chat starts right now. Join me.

Big Ten lunchtime links

January, 25, 2013
1/25/13
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I love nothing!
As colleague Brett McMurphy tweeted earlier today, the SEC leads all conferences with 23 players on the two Super Bowl rosters (based on 2012 conference membership). But the Big Ten isn't too far behind.

The San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens boast a combined 19 Big Ten players on their rosters for Super Bowl XLVII. That's tied with the ACC for the second highest total among conferences this season.

Here's the Big Ten contingent for the Big Ten in New Orleans on Feb. 3.

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

Active roster:

A.J. Jenkins, WR, Illinois
Garrett Celek, TE, Michigan State
Trenton Robinson, S, Michigan State
Jonathan Goodwin, C, Michigan
Alex Boone, OL, Ohio State
Ted Ginn Jr., WR, Ohio State
Larry Grant, LB, Ohio State
Donte Whitner, S, Ohio State
NaVorro Bowman, LB, Penn State
Scott Tolzien, QB, Wisconsin

Reserve/Injured list:

Mario Manningham, WR, Michigan

Practice squad:

Al Netter, OG, Northwestern
Nate Stupar, LB, Penn State

BALTIMORE RAVENS

Active roster:

Sean Considine, S, Iowa
Tandon Doss, WR, Indiana
Sam Koch, P, Nebraska
Bernard Pollard, S, Purdue
Marshal Yanda, OL, Iowa

Practice squad:

Jack Cornell, OL, Illinois

Here are some coaching staff connections for each team ...

49ERS
  • Head coach Jim Harbaugh played quarterback at Michigan
  • Quarterbacks coach Geep Chryst served as a Wisconsin assistant in 1988
  • Assistant secondary coach Greg Jackson was a Wisconsin assistant in 2010
  • Linebackers coach Jim Leavitt joined Hayden Fry's staff at Iowa in 1989
  • Running backs coach Tom Rathman played running back at Nebraska
RAVENS
  • Head coach John Harbaugh coached Indiana's defensive backs and special teamers in 1997
  • Assistant head coach/special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg coached Minnesota's secondary in 1996
  • Offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell played at Iowa; served as a Penn State assistant from 1986-92 and a Northwestern assistant in 1981
  • Defensive coordinator Dean Pees held the same post at Michigan State from 1995-97
  • Secondary coach Teryl Austin held the same post at Michigan from 1999-2002 and served as a graduate assistant at Penn State
  • Offensive line coach Andy Moeller played linebacker at Michigan and coached the Wolverines offensive line from 2000-07

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Mention the 2007 season to Bryan Bulaga, and the Iowa left tackle contorts his face in disgust.

A number comes to mind.

"Forty-six," Bulaga said. "We try to forget it."

Iowa's offensive line allowed 46 sacks that season, which placed 114th out of 119 FBS teams.

Any line can have an off year, and there were certainly circumstances that contributed to the Hawkeyes' struggles. But the staggering sacks total was so un-Iowa, given the program's tradition of stout line play, particularly under head coach Kirk Ferentz, a former line coach with the Hawkeyes and in the NFL.

The Hawkeyes have turned the page and appear ready to draft a new chapter in their proud offensive line history.

After clearing a path for Doak Walker Award winner Shonn Greene last fall, Iowa returns three starters up front, including second-team All-Big Ten tackles in Bulaga and Kyle Calloway. The Hawkeyes lose mainstays in guard Seth Olsen and center Rob Bruggeman, but they have plenty of upperclassmen -- Andy Kuempel, Dan Doering, Julian Vandervelde, Rafael Eubanks, even Dace Richardson if he stays healthy -- to fill the gaps.

"Bruggy and Seth were big-time players for us and leaders, but we need to move on toward next year, getting a new identity," Bulaga said. "We've done a good job of that so far this spring. I don't think we've missed a lot of beats on it."

Iowa's recent offensive line tradition includes players like Robert Gallery, Marshal Yanda and Eric Steinbach, and the hope is Bulaga will be the next star. The affable junior added seven pounds during the offseason, now checking in at 6-foot-6, 312 pounds.

Bulaga takes a streak of 18 consecutive starts into the fall.

"He's an easy guy to coach," Ferentz said. "He's pretty good physically, and he's got a great attitude, so we're just thrilled that he's on our football team. A guy that works hard like he does and has an attitude like he does, it's a contagious thing. He makes other guys better."

Ferentz notes that the problems in 2007 stemmed mainly from youth. Iowa graduated Yanda, Mike Jones and Mike Elgin the previous year and thrust Bulaga, Calloway and other young players into starting roles.

"We went through the same thing back in '84," said Ferentz, who then served as the Hawkeyes' line coach. "In '82 and '83, we had a veteran group. We had seven seniors in our two-deep, so '83 was a lot of fun but '84 was a lot of growing pains."

Ferentz expects to see continued growth from Iowa's veteran-laden line this fall. With questions at running back, wide receiver and even quarterback, to some degree, the Hawkeyes will lean on the five men up front.

Bulaga said 46 sacks allowed two years ago still comes up from time to time in the O-line meeting room, but he and his linemates are more focused on reducing a different number, 27, Iowa's sacks allowed total from 2008.

"This group's worked hard," Ferentz said. "We have no idea what our starting lineup's going to be right now, but we've got a group I think is going to be represented.

"We're a little bit more veteran now, and that's a good thing."

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Iowa's offensive line allowed countless defenders to penetrate the backfield last season, leading to a Big Ten-worst 46 sacks surrendered.

The Hawkeyes also allowed a major part of their program's identity to disappear.

They've spent this fall getting it back.

"Upholding a tradition that's been here, with guys like Robert Gallery and Marshal Yanda and other guys we're trying to follow," senior center Rob Bruggeman said, "we're trying to make sure we don't let the legacy drop off like that. We're making sure we follow in that tradition."

Despite some youth and injury losses, Iowa regained its trademark edge on the offensive line this fall. The Hawkeyes reduced their sacks allowed total by 20 and finished second in the Big Ten in both scoring (30.2 points per game) and yards per rush (4.9).

Four Iowa offensive linemen earned All-Big Ten honors, including Bruggeman and sophomore left tackle Bryan Bulaga, both first-year starters at their respective positions (Bulaga started five games at guard in 2007). Bruggeman said the group, which features a mix of seniors and younger players, came together during the offseason and survived some instability at quarterback early on this fall.

"We've also got a pretty good running back who makes us look a little better," Bruggeman said. "That probably has something to do with how we block out there."

Gee, ya think?

Shonn Greene is the biggest reason why the Hawkeyes rebounded from three underwhelming seasons to reach Thursday's Outback Bowl, where they will take on South Carolina (ESPN, 11 a.m. ET). Greene set a single-season school rushing mark (1,729 yards), eclipsed 100 rushing yards in all 12 games and captured the Doak Walker Award.

With a downhill, no-nonsense running style, Greene is a lineman's dream.

"His physical running style gives us motivation and gives us the confidence to block," Bruggeman said. "We know if we're blocking for him, he'll do the rest for us. So we just try to give him a seam."

Creating seams in a solid South Carolina defense won't be easy. The Gamecocks rank 12th nationally in total defense, though they've been susceptible to the run at times.

"We're trying to do the best we can to match that SEC speed," Bruggeman said.

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