Big Ten: Stevie Brown

Barring a surprise, Michigan linebackers coach Jay Hopson will become Memphis' new defensive coordinator.

Memphis head coach Larry Porter has recommended Hopson to the Tennessee Board of Regents. These recommendations almost always are approved, so expect Hopson to leave his post in Ann Arbor.

This seems like a good move for Hopson, who served as Southern Miss' defensive coordinator from 2005 to 2007 before joining Rich Rodriguez's staff at Michigan. Also, there were no guarantees that Rodriguez would keep his defensive staff intact, especially after a poor performance on that side of the ball for the second straight season.

Linebackers Stevie Brown (1st), Obi Ezeh (3rd) and Jonas Mouton (4th) ranked as three of Michigan's top four tacklers this season, but it wasn't a banner year for the crew. Ezeh's numbers dipped, and Michigan ranked 10th in the Big Ten against the run (171.9 ypg).

If Hopson is approved as Memphis' D-coordinator, Rodriguez should absolutely go after former Notre Dame assistant Corwin Brown as a replacement. Brown, who played at Michigan, is a tremendous recruiter who has coached with Notre Dame and the New York Jets. New Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly didn't retain Brown on his new staff.

Brown to Michigan seems like a no-brainer, as long as he wants the job.
Michigan players have selected defensive end Brandon Graham, left tackle Mark Ortmann, linebacker Stevie Brown and punter Zoltan Mesko as captains for the 2009 season, head coach Rich Rodriguez announced Thursday. Rodriguez had previously named captains for each game this fall.

No major surprises here, as all four seniors served as game captains on multiple occasions. Graham is a candidate for Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors, while both Mesko and Ortmann are candidates for All-Big Ten honors.

"Stevie, Brandon, Zoltan and Mark have played at a high level all season and received the greatest honor that a player can receive, selection as captain by your peers," Rodriguez said in a statement. "They, and our other seniors, will lead us into Michigan Stadium Saturday to play the greatest rivalry game in college football."

Michigan finishes the regular season Saturday against No. 10 Ohio State (ABC, noon ET).

The team also issued its official injury report for the Ohio State game.

DOUBTFUL (25 percent chance of playing)
  • S Mike Williams, ankle
PROBABLE (75 percent chance of playing)

Minor's absence will sting, as he might be the Big Ten's most dominant runner when healthy. Injuries have dogged the Wolverines senior all season, limiting his availability. Selfishly, I really wanted to see Minor out there one more time, especially against a great defense like Ohio State's. Carlos Brown likely will be the featured back for Michigan, though freshman Vincent Smith got a lot of playing time last week. Williams' absence reduces the depth in an already suspect secondary. Freshman Brandon Smith likely will get the start if Williams can't go, but Michigan has all sorts of problems in the back four. Odoms' presence gives Michigan another weapon on offense.

Michigan injury report

November, 12, 2009
Michigan has issued its official injury report for Saturday's game at No. 20 Wisconsin (Big Ten Network, noon ET).

  • C David Molk, knee
PROBABLE (75 percent chance of playing)

No Brandon Minor here, which is good news for the Wolverines. The senior running back has been battling a shoulder injury in addition to his chronic foot/ankle problem. His presence will be huge as Michigan faces a Wisconsin defense that is pretty stingy against the run. Wide receiver Junior Hemingway (back) also doesn't appear on the report, and Odoms seems to have improved after head coach Rich Rodriguez said Monday that the sophomore's injury wasn't progressing as quickly as the staff had hoped. Rodriguez also announced game captains for Wisconsin: linebacker Stevie Brown, defensive end Brandon Graham, wide receiver Greg Mathews and punter Zoltan Mesko.

Michigan injury report: Odoms out

November, 6, 2009
Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Michigan has issued its official injury report for Saturday's home game against Purdue (Big Ten Network, noon ET).

QUESTIONABLE (50 percent chance of playing)
  • DT Greg Banks, foot
PROBABLE (75 percent chance of playing)
  • Zac Johnson, shoulder
Odoms has been hobbled since the Penn State game, when he sprained his knee. Roy Roundtree will get the start at slot receiver after leading Michigan with four receptions for 92 yards last week at Illinois. The good news for Michigan is no Brandon Minor on the report. Head coach Rich Rodriguez said Wednesday that Minor is getting healthier after fighting ankle/foot problems all season. Minor is Michigan's biggest offensive threat when healthy, so his presence looms large. Rodriguez named linebacker Stevie Brown, defensive end Tim North, left tackle Mark Ortmann and slot receiver Ricky Reyes as game captains. Ortmann faced no punishment from Michigan or the Big Ten after being involved in an incident with Illinois' Corey Liuget last week.
Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Daryll Clark is performing surgery on Michigan's secondary right now, and he's using no anesthetic.

The Penn State senior quarterback fired his third touchdown pass to increase his team's lead to 25-10 early in the third quarter. On third-and-9 from the Michigan 11, Clark identified a mismatch as wide receiver Graham Zug went against linebacker Stevie Brown. Zug easily shook Brown and was wide open in the end zone for his second touchdown grab.

Michigan cornerback Donovan Warren will play in the NFL, but the rest of the secondary leaves a lot to be desired. Penn State's wide receivers and tight end Andrew Quarless are finding tons of open space, and Clark has taken advantage so far. He has completed 12 of 17 passes for 184 yards.
Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Michigan has issued its official injury report for Saturday's home game against No. 13 Penn State (ABC, 3:30 p.m. ET).

  • CB Zac Johnson, shoulder
PROBABLE (75 percent chance of playing)
  • RB Carlos Brown, concussion
  • RB Brandon Minor, ankle
  • C David Molk, foot

Head coach Rich Rodriguez said Wednesday that both Brown and Molk are fully participating in practice, so expect them to play Saturday. There's more uncertainty surrounding Minor, who continues to be limited by a chronic ankle injury. Rodriguez doesn't underrate the value of having Minor on the field against Penn State, a team against which he ran for 117 yards and two touchdowns last season. Penn State will be down a running back, as backup Stephfon Green won't make the trip to Ann Arbor because of an ankle injury. Michigan's game captains will be Brown, linebacker Stevie Brown, punter Zoltan Mesko and guard David Moosman.
Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Daryll Clark and Sean Lee believe Penn State is a good football team, and they should know best.

Unlike you and I, Clark and Lee have seen Penn State face top competition this fall. They see it multiple times a week when the Lions step onto the practice field and beat each other up for two hours at a time.
 Kirby Lee/US Presswire
 Daryll Clark and the Nittany Lions are looking to prove themselves Saturday at Michigan.

The rest of us? We've seen Penn State destroy much weaker opponents and lose its only game against top competition, to No. 6 Iowa on Sept. 26. We've seen Penn State rise to No. 2 nationally in scoring defense (8.7 ppg) despite facing no FBS offense ranked higher than 79th. We've seen the Lions' offense build some momentum in wins against Minnesota and Illinois, the two worst defenses in the Big Ten.

"We've been fortunate," Penn State head coach Joe Paterno said earlier this week. "The only tough game we've been in, we've lost."

The tough games part is about to change, and Penn State hopes the losing part does, too. The 13th-ranked Lions will be tested in their final five contests, beginning Saturday against Michigan (ABC, 3:30 p.m. ET).

Penn State tries to snap a five-game losing streak in the Big House, a slide that includes the program's most painful loss this decade, a 27-25 setback in 2005 that kept the Lions out of the national title game. More importantly, the Lions want to show 110,000 fans and a major TV audience what they've been seeing in practice.

"This will definitely be a test for us, but we’re a team that doesn’t mind flying under the radar," said Clark, the senior quarterback. "People aren’t sold on how good we are, and that’s fine. Our goal is to go out and win football games."

Michigan has its own point to prove as well. The Wolverines have shown improvement in Year 2 under head coach Rich Rodriguez. They boast the Big Ten's top scoring offense (37.3 ppg) and dynamic playmakers at all of the skill positions. They own a win against Notre Dame that should appreciate during the coming weeks.

But they lack a signature win in Big Ten play. Until they get it, doubts will linger about the progress being made.

"We have to prove it every week," Wolverines tight end Kevin Koger said. "Just because we're 5-2 doesn't mean anything. We won't be satisfied until we get a Big Ten championship or a national championship."

The latter goal is certainly off the table, and while it's unlikely a two-loss team can win the Big Ten, the league race certainly can change this weekend if Iowa falls to Michigan State.

"Penn State is a very good team," Michigan linebacker Stevie Brown said. "If we can beat them, it puts us another step toward where we want to go and where we want to go is the Rose Bowl. This is another team that's in our way."

The game's signature matchup pairs Michigan's offense and Penn State's defense. Both units are getting healthier, as Lee returned to the field last week after missing three games, while Michigan freshman quarterback Tate Forcier says he's fine after dealing with a throwing shoulder injury and a concussion. The Wolverines also get starting center David Molk back from a foot injury.

Line play also has improved on both sides. Penn State is getting big contributions from tackles Jared Odrick and Ollie Ogbu, who have combined for 14.5 tackles for loss (six sacks) and two forced fumbles, and blossoming end Jack Crawford (9 TFLs, 4.5 sacks). Two weeks ago, Michigan's offensive line helped the team rack up 195 rush yards against Iowa, one of the Big Ten's best defensive fronts. Michigan rushed for 461 yards last week against Delaware State.

"As a team, we’ve played our best games at home, but as an offensive line, our best game was at Iowa," left tackle Mark Ortmann said. "Iowa’s front four was the best we've faced up to that point and maybe it will continue to be. It gave us a lot of confidence to get down and run the ball against a great defense."

For Lee, simply beating Michigan is all the incentive he needs. But Penn State wouldn't mind making a bigger statement at the same time.

"We obviously want to prove we're a good team," he said. "You only do that by going out and playing well."

Michigan injury report

October, 8, 2009

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Michigan has issued its official injury report for Saturday night's clash at No. 12 Iowa (ABC, 8 p.m. ET).

  • CB Zac Johnson, shoulder
  • C David Molk, foot

The good news here is no Carlos Brown. Michigan's leading rusher missed practice Wednesday with an undisclosed injury, but he doesn't appear on the injury report. Mgoblog reported earlier today that Brown sustained a head injury during practice this week and is very doubtful for the game, so we'll see if he plays against Iowa. Senior running back Brandon Minor is getting healthier and could take on a greater carries load if Brown can't go. Brown leads Michigan with 336 rush yards and three touchdowns on 44 carries (7.6 yards per carry), while Minor has rushed for 179 yards and two touchdowns on 35 carries (5.1 ypc).

Wolverines linebacker Stevie Brown, offensive lineman Tim McAvoy, offensive lineman David Moosman and defensive end Tim North will serve as game captains.

Michigan injury report

September, 24, 2009

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Michigan has issued its injury report for Saturday's game against Indiana (ESPN2, noon ET).

  • Center David Molk, foot
  • Safety Mike Williams, ankle
  • Center David Moosman, shoulder
  • Guard Tim McAvoy, knee
We knew Molk was out, and head coach Rich Rodriguez announced that Moosman will start at center. Michigan probably can survive without Williams for a game or two, but the Wolverines need him back soon. Freshman Jordan Kovacs could get the start at safety. Rodriguez announced that linebacker Stevie Brown, quarterback David Cone, wide receiver Greg Mathews and punter Zoltan Mesko will serve as captains for the game.

Big Ten game-day links

September, 12, 2009

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

It's judgment day for the Big Ten. Here are a few links to get you started.

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

As the last line of defense, Michigan's cornerbacks and safeties have a heightened sense of accountability. 

There will be times this fall when Donovan Warren or one of his secondary mates either must make a play or watch six points go up on the scoreboard. But first-year defensive coordinator Greg Robinson has crafted a scheme that minimizes the plays when a defensive back gets left alone on an island. 

After a season when Michigan's defense often felt deserted, it's a welcome change for Warren. 

"Coach Robinson's all about playing to your help and not just playing your game alone," Warren said. "You have to play to your help. That's what defense is all about."

Warren, a true junior who enters his third season as a starter, will be playing in his third defensive scheme this fall. Fortunately, Robinson's system reminds him of the one employed by former coordinator and current Eastern Michigan coach Ron English, who remains very popular with veteran Wolverines defenders.

Like the rest of the team, Michigan's back four struggled last season, finishing ninth in the league in both pass defense (230 ypg) and interceptions (nine). Warren is one of the Big Ten's most-experienced cornerbacks, but he'll be surrounded by youth this fall. Michigan loses corner Morgan Trent and safety Brandon Harrison, and safety Stevie Brown has moved down to linebacker this fall.

"We have a lot of unproven guys and guys that haven't been on the field," Warren said.

If Robinson's system works correctly, Michigan's young players won't be feeling green too often.

"It's using your leverage and knowing where your help is and what guys can do to you in certain situations," Warren said. "Coach Robinson, he breaks it down so much more mentally, so you know what to expect." 

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

The position rankings march on with the linebackers, another position that looks fairly stacked throughout the Big Ten. Much like the D-lines, I don't see many truly weak groups here, though there's a drop-off after No. 4. 

1. Penn State -- The Lions return the Big Ten's most explosive linebacker from a year ago (Navorro Bowman) and one of the league's most productive 'backers from 2007 (Sean Lee). If Lee returns to form, he and Bowman will form arguably the nation's best linebacker tandem and anchor a Nittany Lions defense that led the Big Ten against the run. Josh Hull adds experience at the third starting spot, while hopes are very high for sophomore Michael Mauti. 

  Joe Robbins/Getty Images
  Greg Jones, the Big 10 preseason Defensive Player of the Year, leads Michigan State's linebacking corps.

2. Iowa -- Pat Angerer and A.J. Edds lead a group that always seems to get it done. Angerer tied for the league lead in interceptions last year and led the team with 106 tackles in a breakout junior season. His production overshadowed the solid play of Edds, who should have a big senior season. Jeremiha Hunter also returns for his second year as the starter. Depth might be a bit of a concern here, but the top three are very good. 

3. Michigan State -- Big Ten preseason Defensive Player of the Year Greg Jones is the headliner, and he has a nice supporting cast around him. Jones has led the Spartans in tackles in each of his first two seasons and consistently finds his way into the offensive backfield. Eric Gordon has developed into a fine outside linebacker, and Brandon Denson takes on a bigger role this fall. The Spartans also can look to their bench for Adam Decker, who made the game-clinching tackle against Iowa's Shonn Greene last year.

4. Ohio State -- The Buckeyes lose one of the more productive linebacker tandems in recent Big Ten history, as James Laurinaitis and Marcus Freeman move on to the NFL. The good news is Austin Spitler, Tyler Moeller and others have waited their turn and probably would have earned starting jobs on any other team. Spitler and Moeller step into bigger roles along with Brian Rolle, and Ohio State needs bigger things from Ross Homan in his second year as a starter. There are some question marks, but this should be a good group.

5. Michigan -- Linebacker figures to be Michigan's strongest area on defense. Obi Ezeh has proved to be a reliable Big Ten defender, and he'll benefit from having a healthy Jonas Mouton in the fold. The big question is whether Stevie Brown makes a smooth transition from safety and builds on a strong spring. If Brown steps up, the Wolverines should be fine here. Hopes are also high for Brandon Herron and Marell Evans.   

6. Minnesota -- This group could take a major step forward in 2009, but the Gophers must defend better against the run. Lee Campbell quietly had a nice junior season, recording 80 tackles and four sacks, and Simoni Lawrence proved himself as a playmaker with 10.5 tackles for loss (4 sacks), two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and an interception. Minnesota boasts a ton of speed at linebacker, and it'll be interesting to see how Keanon Cooper and Gary Tinsley perform. Sam Maresh could provide an emotional lift after his amazing return from heart surgery. 

7. Indiana -- It's time for Matt Mayberry and his fellow 'backers to lead this defense to better results in 2009. Mayberry has the talent and the experience to turn in a monster senior season, but he needs to show up every week and make big plays. Will Patterson provides leadership at middle linebacker, and Tyler Replogle steps into a bigger role. If Indiana turns things around on defense, the linebackers must lead the way. 

8. Northwestern -- Head coach Pat Fitzgerald identified his top three linebackers in spring, which bodes well for a group that loses Malcolm Arrington and Prince Kwateng. Outside linebacker Quentin Davie has quietly put up some very impressive numbers, and Nate Williams will be more comfortable in a major role. Fitzgerald is excited about speedy sophomore Ben Johnson, and safety Brad Phillips might see more time in a hybrid role. There are some lingering questions here, but this group could make a big jump.

9. Wisconsin -- The jury's out on the Badgers after they lose DeAndre Levy and Jonathan Casillas, who combined for 15.5 tackles for loss last year. I like what Jaevery McFadden brings at middle linebacker, but he'll need some help from Culmer St. Jean, who saw increased time down the stretch in 2008. Aside from McFadden and St. Jean, the group is unproven and needs to show it's not the weak link of the defense.

10. Illinois -- Ron Zook thinks this will be the year Martez Wilson emerges as an elite Big Ten defender, and history is on his side. The move to middle linebacker worked out well for Brit Miller last year, and Wilson showed some promise in the middle this spring. Illinois needs big things from Wilson because it lacks much experience around him. Junior college transfer Aaron Gress might be a key addition, but I'm far from sold on this group.

11. Purdue -- The Boilers lose an extremely productive and underrated linebacker in Anthony Heygood, and a lot of questions remain with this group. As much as Purdue wants to see Jason Werner healthy, the team can't rely on a guy with a history of back problems. Joe Holland and Chris Carlino need big seasons this fall, and Purdue must build some depth around them.  

Big Ten lunch links

July, 20, 2009

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Big Ten media days kick off in exactly one week. It's time to get serious.

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

You know football season isn't too far away when the Big Ten releases the list of players who will be attending media days, to be held July 27 and July 28 in Chicago. The rundown includes 17 All-Big Ten selections, including nine first-team honorees from last year. Minnesota star wideout Eric Decker will speak on behalf of the players at the Big Ten kickoff luncheon on July 28.

Of course, I'll be making the short trip down Lake Shore Drive for all the action, so be sure to chain yourself to the blog during those days.

Without further ado ...

Arrelious Benn*, Jr., WR
Doug Pilcher, Sr., DL
Juice Williams*, Sr., QB

Ben Chappell, Jr., QB
Jammie Kirlew*, Sr., DE
Will Patterson, Sr., LB

Pat Angerer*, Sr., LB
A.J. Edds*, Sr., LB
Tony Moeaki, Sr., TE

Stevie Brown, Sr., LB/S
Zoltan Mesko*, Sr., P
Mark Ortmann, Sr., LT

Greg Jones*, Jr., LB
Brett Swenson*, Sr., PK
Blair White*, Sr., WR

Garrett Brown, Sr., DT
Lee Campbell, Sr., LB
Eric Decker*, Sr., WR

Mike Kafka, Sr., QB
Brad Phillips*, Sr., S
Corey Wootton*, Sr., DE

Jake Ballard, Sr., TE
Kurt Coleman*, Sr., DB
Doug Worthington, Sr., DL

Daryll Clark*, Sr., QB
Sean Lee*, Sr., LB
Jared Odrick*, Sr., DT

Joey Elliott, Sr., QB
Mike Neal, Sr., DT
Keith Smith, Sr., WR

Garrett Graham*, Sr., TE
Jaevery McFadden, Sr., LB
O'Brien Schofield, Sr., DL

*-indicates previous All-Big Ten selection

It's a pretty solid list overall. There are some very quotable players coming to Chicago, namely Penn State's Daryll Clark and Sean Lee, Illinois' Juice Williams, Iowa's A.J. Edds and Wisconsin's O'Brien Schofield. I'm also looking forward to chatting with some of the guys I missed during spring ball, including Illinois' Arrelious Benn, Wisconsin's Garrett Graham, Michigan's Stevie Brown and Zoltan Mesko, Purdue's Mike Neal and Indiana's Jammie Kirlew.

As far as notable absences, there are a few. At some point, Ohio State needs to acknowledge that Terrelle Pryor is a team leader and stop shielding him from the media. Last year's extremely limited access to Pryor was somewhat justified given his age, but he's quickly becoming the face of the team and needs to be out in front. Yes, yes, I know this event is all about the seniors, but people want to hear from Pryor, who usually has something interesting to say.

I also was hoping to talk with Minnesota quarterback Adam Weber, a two-time captain and three-year starter. Same goes for Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi, whose performance could make or break the season for the Hawkeyes.

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

It's time to examine the names you need to know coming out of spring ball. Daryll Clark and Terrelle Pryor won't appear on this list because if you're a true Big Ten fan, you know who they are. But spring practice provided some clues about other potential stars throughout the league.

Memorize these names and you'll look good in front of your buddies this fall.

Jack Crawford, DE, Penn State -- It shouldn't be a surprise any more, but Penn State appears to have found yet another standout pass rusher in Crawford. The sophomore dazzled this spring and looks ready to take over Aaron Maybin's role on the edge.

Nick Toon, WR, Wisconsin -- The son of former Badgers great Al Toon made waves this spring at a critical position of need for Wisconsin. Toon has all the tools to be a top-end Big Ten wide receiver this fall.

MarQueis Gray, QB, Minnesota -- Believe the hype. That was the theme coming out of Minneapolis this spring as Gray took most of the snaps and showcased his impressive skill set. He'll back up Adam Weber but should see the field a lot.

Marvin McNutt, WR, Iowa -- McNutt might not win a starting job, but his talent won't go to waste. Iowa needs more playmakers to emerge at wide receiver, and McNutt, a converted quarterback, should enter the rotation after an impressive spring.

Stevie Brown, S/LB, Michigan -- I know, I know, Brown is a risky stock to buy because he's been on the All-Spring Team before. This year could be different, though, as Brown enters his final season and seemed to settle in nicely to a hybrid role in Greg Robinson's defense.

Brian Linthicum, TE, Michigan State -- The Spartans already had depth at tight end before Linthicum came along. But the Clemson transfer worked his way into the mix this spring and could be the No. 2 option behind Charlie Gantt.

Brian Rolle, LB, Ohio State -- The Buckeyes lose a lot of production at linebacker, but Rolle looks ready to fill the void. His speed stood out this spring, and he'll play a major role in the rotation.

Brandon Saine, RB, Ohio State -- The wait for big things from Saine could finally be over as the junior got through spring ball unscathed and looked very impressive. Saine has the dynamic qualities to change games and should complement Dan "Boom" Herron in the backfield this fall, if he stays healthy.

J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin -- Defensive coordinator Dave Doeren can't wait to get Watt on the field. A transfer from Central Michigan who began his college career as a tight end, Watt transformed his body and blossomed this spring. He can play either line spot for Wisconsin, which loses three multiyear starters up front.

Jarred Fayson, WR, Illinois -- The Florida transfer has yet to play a down in orange and blue, but he has already made an impression on his teammates, namely quarterback Juice Williams. Illinois is stacked at wide receiver, but Fayson likely earned a starting job with his play during the first chunk of spring ball.