Sports 56 WHBlog Q

August 14, 2009

Big 10 (11) Preview–Good Football, but BOOORING

Filed under: Uncategorized — Will Askew @ 1:54 pm

Big 11

11.  Indiana

On offense:  Indiana’s spread offense produced 11 TDs passing along with 11 INTs.  Starting QB Kellen Lewis was kicked off the team after some off the field issues, which leaves the job to Ben Chappell.  When “fine” is the only word that comes to mind with the Qbs, it’s not good.  The running backs are fast, but haven’t produced, and the wideouts are big and for the most part, slow.  The offensive line should be the strength of the unit, but they couldn’t pass protect at all last year.

On defense:  107th in the country in total defense, 105th in pass defense, and 91st in run defense last year.  They did this despite a good pass rush.  Yeesh.  Jammie Kirlew and Greg Middleton should get to the QB, and that’s good, considering their run stopping is awful and their secondary is bad and coming off two blown ACLs.  Not pretty.

Prediction:  2-10, 0-8 Big 11

Key Player:  QB Ben Chappell.  If the spread is to take off like it did in 2007, Chappell has to play well.

Comparison:  Watching water run out of a tap.

10.  Purdue

On offense:  Curtis Painter is gone, and prospective starter Joey Elliott returns after going 8-15 for 81 yds last year.  Redshirt freshman Caleb TerBush is pushing hard for the job.  If there is a strength, it is the running backs, but it’s all relative.  The o-line isn’t very good, and neither are the receivers.  Given that this is a passing offense, this is not going to be good.

On defense:  Nearly all of the best players for Purdue are on the defensive side of the ball.  However, most are young prospects who aren’t ready to be stars.  Ryan Kerrigan is a very solid DE, their linebackers are young but talented, and their secondary is very solid.  There’s a lot to like here, but they can’t stop the run.

Prediction:  4-8, 2-6 Big 11

Key Player:  DTs.  If this team can stop the run, it could be pretty good.

Comparison: Watching black paint dry.  Ooh, look!  It changed shades!

9.  Wisconsin

On offense:  What would you imagine Wisconsin’s offense looking like?  The running backs are good, and they will run behind a big offensive line.  That should about sum it up.  The QB situation is a weakness.

On defense:  Last year’s defense was supposed to be really good, but choked in big spots.  This year’s team doesn’t return a whole lot of starters, but it could be a good thing.  Jaevery McFadden is a pretty solid linebacker, and they should be better than they were last year.

Prediction: 6-6, 2-6 Big 11, Bielema fired.

Key Player:  QB.  They have to have some semblance of a passing game.

Comparison:  Watching grass grow.  Nothing ever happens.

8.  Michigan

On offense:  You knew it was going to take a while to change the culture.  Eventually, Tate Forcier is going to be good, but you wonder if Michigan fans will have patience.  The running backs, if they can live up to their talent, could be really good, led by Brandon Minor.  Last year, the O-line was a major weakness, so you wonder if they can adjust to what Rodriguez’s system requires this year,

On defense:  Very questionable defensive line.  The defensive tackles are especially weak.  The linebackers, while fast, have trouble tackling at times.  Returning leading tackler Obi Ezeh is a perfect example of this.  True freshman Vladimir Emilien is about to be a star at safety, but he is a true freshman, so give him time.

Prediction:  6-6, 3-5 Big 11.  @Michigan State, @Wisconsin, @Illinois, @Iowa

Key Player:  Defensive line.  Have to get better.

Comparison:  Watching water boil…wait for it…wait for it…Yes!

7.  Minnesota

On offense:  The Gophers have a lot of talent in WR Eric Decker and QB Adam Weber.  They had the Big 10s worst rushing attack last year, but added Matt Carufel, a Notre Dame transfer, at guard and T Jeff Wills, who’s 375 pounds.  Look for much more emphasis on the running game this year.

On defense:  The style should be very aggressive even with Ted Roof gone.  The strength of the DL is at tackle, so they should do a pretty good job stopping the run.  The linebackers are very very fast.  The secondary should be okay with the addition of tWisconsin transfer Kim Royston.

Prediction:  7-5, 4-4 Big 11

Key players:  O-line.  Must get a push for the emphasized running game.

Comparison:  Watching icicles form.  I suppose it’s interesting to some people, but it’s cold.

6.  Northwestern

On offense:  All of the top skill players are gone.  What they do have, though, is a really good offonsive line and some pretty solid running backs.  Expect a lot of running and some nice safe passing from reliable senior QB Mike Kafka.

On defense:  Corey Wootten is a really nice NFL looking talent on the defensive line, but is coming off an offseason injury.  The linebackers under Pat Fitzgerald are always solid, and the secondary may be the strength of the team.  A very solid unit.

Prediction:  8-4, 4-4 Big 11

Key Player:  Receivers…if they can develop quickly, this could be a huge surprise team.

Comparison:  Going to a Calculus lecture.  You don’t really understand what is going on, and there are lots of smart people around.

5.  Iowa

On offense:  Ricky Stanzi wasn’t asked to do too much last year with Shonn Greene sharing the backfield with him, so he should be okay.  The backups, though, are good at QB, even though they have no experience.  You can’t replace Shonn Greene, but Iowa does have four starters back on their O-line, so the running game should remain effective.

On defense:  The back seven could be the best in the Big 10, with Pat Angerer at linebacker along with more studs and Amari Spievey anchoring a solid secondary.  The defensive line, though, is a major question.  They have to replace both starting tackles from last year, but have good ends.

Prediction:  8-4, 5-3 Big 10 (@PSU, @ Wisc, @MSU, @ OSU)

Key player:  Stanzi.

Comparison:  Mowing grass on a farm.  You’re getting something accomplished, but it takes a while.  And there’s corn.

4.  Michigan State

On offense:  They lose Brian Hoyer and Javon Ringer.  Yeesh.  But they do have nice QBs in sophomore Kirk Cousins and Keith Nichol to replace Hoyer.  Because Ringer never, ever came out of the game, they don’t have much experience at RB, but some speed.  The receivers look like an NFL unit, but don’t produce like one.  The left side of the O-line is a question, but the right is a question.

On defense:  Greg Jones and Eric Gordon are excellent linebackers and anchor what should be Mark Dantonio’s best defense since he came to East Lansing.  The secondary brings back three starters, but Marcus Hyde has to replace the best from last year, safety Otis wiley.

Prediction:  8-4, 5-3 Big 11

Key Player:  Right side of the OL.

Comparison:  Rolling a big rock up a hill.  Really really difficult, and every time you think you’re getting somewhere, it rolls back down the hill.

3.  Illinois

On offense:  Juice Williams and Arrelious Benn are two of the most dynamic players in the Big 11.  The running backs could be a weakness.  The biggest thing that this group has to avoid is turnovers.  Juice has been quite turnover prone in his time at Illinois.

On defense:  The front seven is full of guys who look good and should perform but either haven’t or haven’t had the chance.  The secondary is the opposite…a ton of experience.  However, they need to force more turnovers.

Prediction:  9-3, 6-2 Big 11

Comparison:  Cleveland.  Probably the most boring major city in America.  But at least you can go see a Cavs game.

2.  Penn State

On offense:  Getting QB Darryl Clark back for a 6th year is huge.  They do have to replace their top 3 wideouts, including playmaker Derrick Williams.  Evan Royster is a very very good back with first round potential.  The o-line lost three great players, so it could be a question mark.

On defense:  The linebackers are awesome.  Sean Lee and Navorro Bowman anchor a great linebacking corps…but the line isn’t spectacular and the defensive backs can tackle, but will have trouble covering.

Prediction:  11-1, 7-1 Big 11

Key Player:  WRs.  Good QB, good RB.  But they need to get some production out of some new wideouts.

Comparison:  Going to hang out at your great grandfather’s house and sitting on his couch.

1.  Ohio State

On offense:  It is the year of Terrell Pryor.  Everyone expects Pryor to develop into a superstar this year.  The team did lose Brian Robiskie and Brian Hartline from last year’s team at wideout, but overall, the receivers won’t be that much worse.  The running backs’ biggest question is health.  Pryor will be the engine that makes this team go in his second year.

On defense:  They lose James Laurinaitis and Malcolm Jenkins, two consensus All Americans, but they should be as good.  The ends are spectacular, with Thaddeus Gibson being an absolute stud.  Despite losing Jenkins, the team also brings back a lot of experience.  If there is a question on the team, it’s the linebackers.

Prediction:  11-1, 8-0 Big Ten (@ Penn State a huge game)

Key Player:  Pryor.  If he’s not good, they’re done.

Comparison:  Being on a desert island.  You’re on the beach, but you’re all by yourself.

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