Wednesday, June 30, 2010

College Football: Big 10 Early Preview

Yes it's the end of June...which means it's almost time for college football preview season. The big name College Football magazines are out and their predictions for the upcoming Big 10 season are So I'll try to tackle some of the Big pluses and question marks for the last year of the Big 11.... (schools listed on their average expected finish according to the magazines)

1. Ohio State
Strengths: tOSu is fortified on both the offensive and defensive line. The Buckeyes rebounded from their loss to Purdue by controlling the line of scrimmage and this year should see a continuation of that.

Question Marks The big question is obviously will the Pryor from the Rose Bowl be the Pryor for the year? However the Buckeyes are also replacing every single key special teamer (punter, kicker, punt returner, kick returner) and given how Tressel relies on special teams this could be problematic.

2. Iowa
Strengths: Outstanding defense led by the Big 10's best safety...Tyler Stash and Big 10s best pass rusher Adrian Clayborn.

Question Marks. Iowa is replacing 4 of 5 starting offensive linemen including first round LT Brian Beaulaga. Yes the Hawkeyes spit out offensive linemen like they spit out corn but 4 is a big number to replace.

3. Wisconsin
Strengths. Wisconsin has the conferences best 2 offensive tackles, a punishing rush game personified by Heisman hopeful John Clay, and Scott Tolzien returns at QB (Tolzien led the Big 10 in efficiency and pass completion percentage last year) In other words....all the pieces are in place for Wisconsin football at its best.

Question Marks: The biggest on the field question mark is on defense for the Badger. They have question marks over their defensive tackle as Wisconsin needs to replace both of theirs and at safety as their captain last year, Chris Maragos, has moved on.

4. Penn State
Strengths: Evan Royster , Penn State's old reliable running back, returns for what seems like his 84th year. Coupled with some veteran quality interior o-linemen and the PSU rushing attack should be solid

Question Marks - QB. With Clark gone it's unclear who will be the starting QB in the Fall (still). What is clear is that none of the QBs have very much if any game experience and none looked particularly good during spring practice.

5. Michigan State
Strengths - Kirk Cousin and a fleet of running back/wide receivers means last years most explosive offense in the Big 10 should be back in high gear. Finally all Big 10 Linebacker Greg Jones returns.

Question Marks - Outside of Jones the MSU defense was horrendous. In particular the secondary was among the worst in the country. While a number of those bad players have moved on, its unclear if the new additions (specifically safety freshman Isaiah Lewis) will be any better. I'll also add Vernon Gholston's younger brother (William) will get significant time at DE as a freshman and could be a star.

6. Michigan
Strengths The Wolverines regained their offensive touch last year and it should continue this year. Roundtree catching and Vincent Smith running should provide plenty of firepower. While its unclear if its Forcier or Robinson QBing...both should capably score points.

Question Marks - I'd like to single an aspect of the Wolverine's defense that needs mending but it's really all of it. The defense was bad last year, lost its two best players, and is switching to a 3-3-5. So improvements, changes in strategy, and replacing key players means the entire defense has a giant question mark.


Gutsy Goldberg said...

As always, excellent coverage and analysis here of NCAAF.

I actually had not heard of the "3-3-5" defense before, but I assume that is to counter the spread offenses that are out there. Quick internet search confirms that and says Boise State and TCU have been running 3-3-5 (or variants?). Anyways, wouldn't the 3-3-5 be a bad idea against all of the old-school big 10 teams that are still running and pounding the ball like crazy? Or perhaps maybe Michigan has such a lack of D-linemen that they'd rather just use the 3-3-5?

Hitman said...

Really? This post couldn't wait for 10 days? Right now we're in the midst of the most popular sporting event on the planet, on the eve of the biggest free agent period in NBA history, and smack in the middle of the baseball season. Tune us in around mid-July, ok?

Mighty Mike said...

In mid-July I do my full preview. I'm trying to keep the same time frame as last year.

Point well taken on ignoring the most popular sporting event in the planet...the Australia v. England cricket match. I shall provide better commentary on Australia's sticky wicket 78 run win.