Fiu, Cirminiello, Mitchell on TV - Campus Insiders | Buy College Football Tickets

Big Ten Pre-Spring Preview - What Needs Work?
Ohio State QB Joe Bauserman
Ohio State QB Joe Bauserman
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Feb 17, 2011


This is Joe Bauserman, and his development and ability to carry Ohio State over the first five games might be the key to the college football season (if it's not freshman Braxton Miller taking over. The Big Ten might be as good as ever, but there are plenty of issues to overcome. In the 2011 Big Ten Pre-Spring Preview - What Every Team Needs To Work On.

2011 Pre-Spring Preview   

What To Work On - Big Ten


Click for each team's pre-spring lookback and lookahead
Leaders Illinois | Indiana | Ohio State | Penn State | Purdue | Wisconsin 
Legends Iowa | Michigan | Michigan State | Minnesota | Nebraska | Northwestern 

2011 Big Ten Pre-Spring Preview
- Big Ten Pre-Spring Rankings
- Why Every Team Should Be Excited
- Why Every Team Should Be Grouchy
- What Every Team Needs To Work On 

- 2011 Big Ten Leaders Division Breakdown & Analysis 
- 2011 Big Ten Legends Division Breakdown & Analysis
- 2011 Big Ten Composite Schedule & Week Rankings
- 2011 Big Ten Schedule Analysis

Leaders

Illinois
- Passing production. The Illini lived and died by the running game with Mikel Leshoure and Nathan Scheelhaase combining to averaged close to 200 yards per game on the ground, but Scheelhaase has to start putting up the ball more after the offense finished 111th in the nation in passing. The return game has been an issue for years, and there wasn’t any improvement last season finishing last in the league in punt returns and 100th in kickoff returns.

Indiana
- Generating a pass rush. The defense doesn’t have the strength and the talent to be great against the run, and it’s not athletic enough to get into the backfield on a regular basis. That has to change with new defensive coordinator Mike Ekeler needing to find a way to improve a pass rush that finished 103rd in the nation in sacks and 96th in tackles for loss. End Darius Johnson is promising, but he has to do far more.

Ohio State
- Braxton Miller. No pressure, rookie, but the national championship and the fate of the free world might rest on your shoulders. With Terrelle Pryor out for the first five games, the eyes of the Buckeye nation will be on the quarterback situation. Joe Bauserman is the safe, secure starting choice with the time in the system and enough talent to keep the ship afloat for the first half of the year, but Miller, one of the stars of the latest recruiting class, has the phenomenal talent to make Ohio State shine. Will the coaching staff go with a mix of the two quarterbacks? Will Miller be ready? It’ll be one of the big national question marks of the offseason.

Penn State
- Points. Generating more of a pass rush will be a must after coming up with a mere 17 last season, but the D will be fine. The issue is an offense that struggled to generate enough production against the teams with a pulse, and it showed with just home wins over Michigan and Northwestern the only victories over bowl bound teams. The offensive line was solid in pass protection, but it didn’t do nearly enough for the ground game that has to average more than 143 yards per game. First things first, the quarterback situation has to be solidified with a clear No. 1 starter between Matt McGloin and Robert Bolden.

Purdue
- Passing efficiency. Purdue would’ve had one of the stronger passing games in the Big Ten had Robert Marve and Keith Smith not gotten hurt, and with Marve and RB Ralph Bolden trying to come back from ACL injuries, the offense should be smoother. Can they be counted on for a full season? No matter what, Purdue has to get more out of an air attack that finished 112th in the nation in passing and 114th in passing efficiency.

Wisconsin 
- Finding an efficient passer. Lost in all the brutality of the great running game was that Scott Tolzien completed throw after throw in key third down situations. Wisconsin didn’t necessarily have a big-play passing attack, but it was fourth in the nation in efficiency and led the Big Ten. Curt Phillips, if he’s back at 100% after suffering a torn ACL, will add more of a rushing element to the mix and should look like some of the older, more mobile Badger quarterbacks, and Jon Budmayer is a short, solid passer who might not look the part, but can play. The receiving corps, led by Nick Toon, is fine, but the big plays to keep the chains moving have to come from the new quarterback.

Legends

Iowa
- Getting into the backfield. The line isn’t going to better without all the big name stars, and it’s not likely going to be any better at stopping the run, but it should be far better at getting into the backfield after the Hawkeye defensive front struggled to make plays behind the line. With the turnover in the secondary, more hits on the quarterback are a must for a defense that finished seventh in the nation in points allowed.

Michigan
- Besides the entire defense needing to start working, the key to the season could be getting even more out of Denard Robinson and the passing game. Keeping him healthy will also be a must if Devin Gardner ends up redshirting to save a season of eligibility. It’s hard to argue with a team that finished 36th in the nation in passing and 23rd in passing efficiency, but Robinson threw too many picks. When the defense started giving up yards and points in chunks, it was always the best option to run the ball hoping for a home run. The ground game is going to work and it’s going to work really, really well. The more teams have to fear Robinson’s arm, the better everything else will work.

Michigan State
- Getting the defensive front in a lather. The talent is there on the front four with Jerel Worthy almost certain to be an all-star, the rotation of Kevin Pickelman and Blake Treadwell working on the nose, and with 6-7, 260-pound junior Tyler Hoover working on the end. If the line doesn’t start getting to the quarterback more and doesn’t start doing enough to get into the backfield, the defense will have to start to manufacture ways to get more disruptive.

Minnesota
- Besides generating more of a pass rush after finishing dead-last in the nation, and besides making sure that MarQueis Gray really is the starting quarterback, the team needs better punting. The offense isn’t good enough to survive without great field position, and after a great 2009, the punting game was a nightmare last year. Blake Hauden, who averaged 42.6 yards per kick two years ago, was replaced by freshman Dan Orseske, and the Gophers finished last in the nation in net punting averaging under 31 yards per pop. In the uh-oh category, under Jerry Kill, Northern Illinois was 105th in the nation in punting last year.

Nebraska
- Making more plays in the backfield. Helped by Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska finished second in the nation in sacks and 28th in tackles for loss in 2009. There wasn’t expected to be any sort of drop off, if any, even though Suh was doing his thing in Detroit, but the Huskers didn’t do enough to get behind the line finishing a shocking 112th in the country in tackles for loss. The run defense became shockingly average allowing 153 yards per game.

Northwestern 
- Better line play. The Northwestern defense didn’t do nearly enough to get to the quarterback, while the offensive line was last in the Big Ten in sacks allowed. There are too many returning veterans and there’s too much size to not be better, and while the O line isn’t going to steamroll over anyone and the defensive front isn’t going to be a consistent brick wall, both sides of the line have to be far, far more productive if Northwestern is going to get more than seven wins and be a Legends challenger.

Click for each team's pre-spring lookback and lookahead
Leaders Illinois | Indiana | Ohio State | Penn State | Purdue | Wisconsin 
Legends Iowa | Michigan | Michigan State | Minnesota | Nebraska | Northwestern 

2011 Big Ten Pre-Spring Preview
- Big Ten Pre-Spring Rankings
- Why Every Team Should Be Excited
- Why Every Team Should Be Grouchy
- What Every Team Needs To Work On 

- 2011 Big Ten Leaders Division Breakdown & Analysis 
- 2011 Big Ten Legends Division Breakdown & Analysis
- 2011 Big Ten Composite Schedule & Week Rankings
- 2011 Big Ten Schedule Analysis