Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Big Ten stock report: Week 10
By Brian Bennett
Meet me at the stock hop.
Fitzgerald Toussaint: Michigan coach Brady Hoke finally named a starting running back on Monday, not that there was any doubt left after the Purdue win. Fitzgerald Toussaint's name sounds like a 19th-century French impressionist, and his 59-yard touchdown run Saturday was a work of art. He tallied 170 yards and two scores in all last week, and it looks like the Wolverines have finally found a consistent complement to Denard Robinson.
Tim Marlowe: The Nebraska junior receiver has been getting a lot more playing time and nearly took a 39-yard reverse to the house against Michigan State. He's slight -- just 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds -- but has drawn praise from his coaches for the way he plays the game. Marlowe is getting more run right now than highly-regarded freshman receiver Jamal Turner.
Braxton Miller: The Ohio State freshman quarterback is growing up quickly. His unwavering confidence at the end of the Wisconsin game was truly remarkable for a guy his age, and he appears to be getting better each week. If he can become a more polished passer, Miller will be a terror on opposing Big Ten defenses for the next three-plus years.
Silas Redd: We've written a lot of nice things about Redd in the blog lately, but what he did in October can't be said enough. He had 703 rushing yards in the month and continued his workhorse ways the past two games while dealing with a stinger in his shoulder. If anybody earned a bye week this week, it's the Penn State rising star tailback.
Duane Bennett: Inspired by the Iowa rivalry, the Minnesota tailback ran for 101 yards in last week's win. It was his first 100-yard day since the second game of last season and the first by a Gophers tailback this season. Bennett overcame a costly early fumble and minor knee injury to help Minnesota keep the pig.
Big Ten teams on the road: Road teams are just 8-18 on the road in conference play, and some teams seem to be completely different outfits away from home. Michigan State has scored just 26 points total in three road games, while the Spartans are averaging more than 36 per game at home. Iowa has lost five straight road games, and it would be six if not for a dropped Indiana touchdown pass last year. Purdue has fallen six straight times on the road. Do we need coach Norman Dale to break out the measuring tape and show these guys that a football field is still a football field, no matter where it is?
Damarlo Belcher: Belcher should be celebrating his achievement of setting the all-time Indiana receptions record right about now. Instead, the senior who skipped on a chance to enter the NFL draft last year got himself dismissed from the team, just two catches short of the record.
Wisconsin special teams: That's two straight weeks now that the Badgers have had a punt blocked that either resulted or directly led to a touchdown. Bret Bielema says there have been breakdowns in punt protection that he will try to fix. Wisconsin also had a field goal blocked at Michigan State and gave up a long kickoff return to Ohio State that helped set up the winning touchdown. Those mistakes were just as big as the long passes that got the Badgers beat.
Illinois special teams: Wisconsin isn't the only team struggling in the kicking game. The Illini have also had punts blocked in each of the past two weeks. And in the Penn State game they lost by three, they botched one field goal attempt and had another hit off the upright. That's no way to stop a three-game losing streak.
Iowa's defensive front: Not that much has gone right anywhere for the Hawkeyes defense, but the lack of stoutness up front was truly telling in the Minnesota loss. The Gophers came in as one of the worst rushing teams in the Big Ten but were able to gash Iowa in the fourth quarter. Kirk Ferentz's defense isn't getting many tackles for loss (99th in the country) or sacks (83rd), which are signs of weakness up front. Losing three defensive linemen from last year's team to the NFL has taken a heavy toll.