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Big Ten Pre-Spring Preview - What Needs Work?
Ohio State DE John Simon
Ohio State DE John Simon
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Feb 7, 2012


2012 Big Ten Pre-Spring Preview - What Every Big Ten Team Needs To Work On.

2012 Pre-Spring Preview   

What To Work On - Big Ten


Leaders Illinois | Indiana | Ohio State | Penn State | Purdue | Wisconsin 
Legends Iowa | Michigan | Michigan State | Minnesota | Nebraska | Northwestern 

2012 Big Ten Pre-Spring Preview
- CFN 2012 Pre-Preseason Big Ten Leaders Rankings
- CFN 2012 Pre-Preseason Big Ten Legends Rankings
- Why Every Team Should Be Excited
- Why Every Team Should Be Grouchy
- What Every Team Needs To Work On  
- 2012 Recruiting Breakdown Big Ten Leaders | Big Ten Legends

Leaders

Illinois
- The Illini has to find more offensive scoring punch after struggling to find the end zone over the second half of the season. After rolling against the mediocre teams in the first part of the slate, Illinois scored a grand total of 66 points over the final six games of the regular season before putting up 20 on UCLA in the bowl win. A No. 1 wide receiver and go-to running back have to emerge as quickly as possible. The special teams needs a lot of work from Day One after finishing dead last in America in kickoff returns and 118th in punt returns.

Indiana
- The Hoosiers have to find something that consistently works offensively. The ground game started to work over the second half of the season with 200 yards or more in four of the final six games, but it didn’t matter with the defense giving up points and yards in massive chunks. A better passing game is a must if the D isn’t going to make a major improvement, but the receiver talent isn’t at the level head coach Kevin Wilson wants. IU threw just three touchdown passes and eight picks over the final seven games with just one 200-yard performance over that span.

Ohio State
- This is a tune-up year for Urban Meyer as he works with Braxton Miller to get the offensive style in place. Forgotten about Meyer’s tenure at his three previous spots – Florida, Utah, and Bowling Green – was that the passing game more than held its own with the ground attack. OSU didn’t take too many chances last year with Miller, but he showed nice promise and potential as he improved as the season went on. However, the Buckeyes only averaged 127 passing yards per game and have to work on being far more balanced. Defensively, the pass rush has to emerge after an inconsistent and occasionally ineffective season. There’s no excuse to not be camped out in the backfield with John Simon at one end.

Penn State
- The passing game. New head coach Bill O’Brien doesn’t exactly have Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski to work with, but at least he has the résumé and the ingenuity to make a passing attack shine. He has a lot of work to do with Matt McGloin and an awful quarterback situation made worse by massive losses on the offensive line and not enough consistent explosion in the receiving corps. Penn State was 112th in the nation in passing efficiency and 110th in scoring; the defense won’t be good enough to make up for another bad offense.

Purdue
- The Boilermakers aren’t good enough to not do all the little things right, and that includes penalties after finishing 107th in the nation. The offense has to be far, far better against the better teams, failing to score more than 22 points in any of the six losses and with the only 30-point performances coming against SE Missouri State, Minnesota, Indiana, and Western Michigan. The defense should be stronger, but it won’t be good enough to carry the team if the offense isn’t producing against Notre Dame, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio State over the first half of the season.

Wisconsin 
- The pass protection has to be far better. Having Russell Wilson made up for a lot of issues in several big games, but the offensive line had problems against Michigan State and Ohio State. Now the offense has to get more from the front five even with three new starters and a question mark at quarterback. The pass rush was fine, but it needs to be more consistent despite the loss of Louis Nzegwu on the outside and Patrick Butrym in the interior. Overall, the team has to focus this spring on being Wisconsin. The system has worked under head coach Bret Bielema, and now it’s up to the new parts to keep the success going.

Legends

Iowa
- The lines have to be better. That’ll be very, very tough to do with several big changes on both sides, but Iowa can’t be a player in the Big Ten title chase if the pass rush doesn’t improve and is the O line can’t generate more of a push for the ground game. Defensively, the pressure from the front four is a must to help out a secondary that had talent, but wasn’t steady and struggled against the more efficient and effective passers. Overall, Iowa has to be more consistent, and that comes from finding one thing it can do really, really well on each side of the ball. It’ll take more than a spring session to do that.

Michigan
- It’s time for Denard Robinson to become a more effective passer and not just hope for the best by throwing up jump balls in key situations. Can he go from being a great runner and a decent but inconsistent passer to a weapon? He’ll never be Tom Brady, but he has to cut down on his interceptions and he has to be just effective enough to keep everyone from loading up to stop the run. The special teams needs some beefing up after finishing last in the Big Ten in punting, averaging just 33.4 yards per boot, and 117th in the nation in kickoff returns averaging a mere 18.4 yards per try.

Michigan State
- The passing game needs the focus with a new quarterback and new receivers looking to click, but the ground attack has no excuse to not be better. The Spartans had a nice trio of backs and got a good season out of the offensive line, but they still finished 11th in the Big Ten in rushing and now doesn’t have Edwin Baker, who took off early for the NFL. Even with all the veteran pieces in place, the MSU offense still struggled way too much on third downs and didn’t do enough to move the chains. As always, penalties were an issue finishing 91st in the nation in flags.

Minnesota
- Passing efficiency. MarQueis Gray started out his career as a spread quarterback, was moved to receiver, and ended up taking over the starting quarterback job last offseason. The 6-4, 240-pounder has all the tools and talent, and now he has to show this spring that he’s ready to be the type of quarterback who makes everyone around him better. The defensive front has to create more of a pass rush to help out a secondary that needs more production from the corners. More than anything else, though, the Gophers have to figure out how they’re going to score on a regular basis. The offense has to find something it can do well at a high level.

Nebraska
- Taylor Martinez will never be a bomber, but the passing game can’t be ignored and it has to be far more efficient. The offense as constructed was more than fine against the mediocre teams, and it found an extra gear to get by Ohio State, but it was shut down cold by Wisconsin, Michigan, and South Carolina. There’s talent at receiver, and all the main targets are back, and this spring it’ll be up to Martinez to start using them. Defensively, the front seven has to find more ways to get into the backfield after failing to do nearly enough to come up with pressure. There weren’t nearly enough tackles for loss.

Northwestern 
- The Wildcats have to get to the quarterback and keep defenses from getting to theirs. Northwestern generated just 17 sacks on the season and allowed 42, while also failing to do much of anything to get behind the line to stop the run. The secondary was loaded with veterans and talent, but it was under siege thanks to a line that didn’t do enough to help the cause. Offensively, the coaching staff has to work on how to turn more drives into points. NU finished second in the Big Ten in total offense, but failed to score more than 28 points in six of the last seven games.

Leaders Illinois | Indiana | Ohio State | Penn State | Purdue | Wisconsin 
Legends Iowa | Michigan | Michigan State | Minnesota | Nebraska | Northwestern 

2012 Big Ten Pre-Spring Preview
- CFN 2012 Pre-Preseason Big Ten Leaders Rankings
- CFN 2012 Pre-Preseason Big Ten Legends Rankings
- Why Every Team Should Be Excited
- Why Every Team Should Be Grouchy
- What Every Team Needs To Work On  
- 2012 Recruiting Breakdown Big Ten Leaders | Big Ten Legends