2009 Big Ten Insider Spring Answers, Part 1
Penn State LB Sean Lee
Is Sean Lee really back to his All-America status at Penn State? Can Wisconsin tackle? Is Purdue going to be ant better under Danny Hope? With spring ball kicking in, here are some of the Big Ten's key questions answered by the inside sources, the Scout publishers.
2009 Spring Preview
Key Big Ten Questions Answered, Part 1
2009 Big Ten Spring Analysis
- Does the Big Ten stink?
- Big Ten Questions
Answered ... Part 2
Considering he’s been around and has been groomed for the job, will
Danny Hope change Purdue all that much? If the team was mediocre before,
why is it going to be better under Hope? What’s the most important
position battle to watch for this spring?
… I don't think a whole lot will change to be honest. Like you said,
he's come up through the system, he's a Tiller guy who seems to
subscribe to a lot of the same coaching philosophies. However, the one
thing with the change is just that: it's a change. So just the fact that
there was a changing of the guard renews some "hope." I also think Coach
Hope is a great recruiter who will build more ties in the Midwest where
recently, Purdue has concentrated more on the south. Position battle,
Painter is obviously out. Justin Siller stepped in for a few games and
did well, but before that he was a running back and they have redshirt
freshman Caleb TerBush who is highly touted.
By Allen Trieu from
Q: Will Terrelle Pryor be allowed to throw more? Just how fast
will the Ohio State defense be able to reload? What’s the most important
position battle to watch for this spring?
By Mark Rea of
Will Pryor be allowed to throw more? You might as well have asked what
tonight's lottery numbers are going to be. No one really knows and
Tressel isn't saying. Tressel has always been the kind of coach who
doesn't necessarily want his quarterback winning the game -- he just
doesn't want him to lose it. That said, he really has never had a
quarterback who possesses the talents that Pryor does. I would guess --
and that's really all it is at this point -- that Tressel will want to
average 25 passes a game next season. That would represent an increase
of five over last year. Pryor only averaged 12.7.
As far as the defense is concerned, I have little doubt it will rebuild
quickly. Most of the line and secondary is back and they have recruited
extremely well at linebacker the last couple of years. People wondered
if Ohio State could recover from the losses of A.J. Hawk and Bobby
Carpenter a couple of years ago and simply plugged in James Laurinaitis
and Marcus Freeman, Now, they'll be going with young guys like Etienne
Sabino, Jermale Hines and Dorien Bell. Jim Heacock will have his
defensive unit ready. Despite lots of roster turnover, his defenses have
ranked fifth, fifth, first and sixth nationally in scoring defense since
he's been defensive coordinator. The Buckeyes will be fine on that side
of the ball.
Just how close is Penn State’s Sean Lee to
being back to 100%? Is Daryll Clark really good
enough to carry the passing game without all the stars he had last year?
What’s the most important position battle to watch for this spring?
A: By Mark Brennan from
Lee blew out his knee last
spring. So he's had a ton of time to recover.
I caught up with him
at the bowl.
He should be fine for the season. My guess is they'll take it easy on
him in the spring, though. They had a "Pro Day" for current players
earlier this week and he benched 225 25 times.
As for Clark, yes, I do think he is good enough to carry the passing
game. His interception percentage was outstanding last year (I don't
have it off the top of my head, but I know it was record or a PSU stater).
And that was with two picks late in the Rose Bowl when they were
scrambling to get back in the game.
Losing the three top wideouts may hurt.
But they have some
pretty serious athletes waiting in the wings. And they have a
big-time receiver coming in (Justin Brown). The receivers will be bigger
and more athletic this year. But it'll take a while until they are as
savvy as the last crew.
I talked to Clark
a couple weeks ago at a charity event. The bigger question with the
passing game is whether a rebuilt offensive line can keep Clark on his
feet. Three starters are gone, all of them first-team All-Big Ten picks.
Speaking of which, the most important battle in the spring will be --
and I hate to sound like a football geek here -- at the offensive guard
spots. Dennis Landolt is back at right tackle. It looks like true
sophomore DeOn'tae Pannell will take over for Gerald Cadogan at left
tackle. Meanwhile, former starting right guard Stefen Wisniewski (who is
very good) will replace A.Q. Shipley at center.
So the two guard
spots are both open. And the guys in the mix there will likely be Lou
Eliades, Johnnie Troutman, J.B. Walton and redshirt freshman Matt
Stankiewitch. Eliades and Troutman are the two best players there now.
But the staff may throw one of them into the mix at left tackle to push
Q: What happened to the tackling at Wisconsin last year? How did
the program fall so far so fast?
A: By Benjamin
BadgerNation.com … What
happened to the tackling? That's the million dollar question Bret
Bielema and his coaching staff never could figure out as the 2008 season
wore on. While most teams usually progress and master the fundamentals
by the start of conference slate, Wisconsin actually seemed to digress,
as the Badgers were one of the most penalized teams in the Big Ten last
season, gave up 180 sacks, had a turnover margin of -.62 (second to last
in the Big Ten) and were dead last in redzone defense.
Bielema stuck to the fact
that his team was not 'undisciplined,' but the numbers clearly show the
Badgers were not executing some of the simplest of things; things that
could have prevented at least two losses.
How did the program
fall so far so fast? Simply put, the schedule caught up to them. In
2006, a program-record 12 wins in Bielema's first year, the Badgers
played one AP ranked opponent during the regular season (the team's only
loss at Michigan).
In 2007, the Badgers played
three, going 1-2, including a poor performance against Tennessee in the
Outback Bowl. Last year, Wisconsin went 1-3 against AP ranked team, with
its only win coming at Fresno State, a team that was overranked from the
Fans around Badger Nation are
none too pleased with the non-conference scheduling either, as the
Badgers have scheduled an FCS program in four straight years, another
one in 2011 are presumed to be looking to fill one of their two open
dates in 2010 with one as well.
While Wisconsin does have
series scheduled with Oregon State and Arizona State coming up on the
horizon, if the Badgers want to be taken seriously on the national
level, they'll need to schedule more seriously. Playing schools like
Northern Illinois and UNLV doesn't prepare a team for the talent in the
Once again, the position to
watch for is the quarterback battle, which has become a rite of spring
in Madison since John Stocco departed at the end of the 2006 season. The
Badgers decision to go with Allan Evridge backfired, as the senior
transfer was plagued with poor accuracy and even worse decision making.
Dustin Sherer, who was slated to be the starter last season before
Evridge transferred, was summoned full time for the final seven games of
the season. The only problem was Sherer's accuracy and decision making
wasn't much better, as UW could never find any semblance of rhythm.
Sherer is the only quarterback
with any game experience, but the Wisconsin coaching staff is high on
sophomore Scott Tolzien - who doesn't impress athletically, but more
often than not makes the correct reads and decisions - and freshman Curt
Phillips - who is the fans pick to start this season after redshirting
last season and the team's scout MVP from last season.