The Big Ten coaches from The Division With Michigan (T-DWM) spoke Tuesday (link) with the coaches from The Division With Ohio State (T-DWOS) set to follow Wednesday. Here’s a summary of what the latter group had to say.
Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel first said he was surprised to hear the Big Ten’s director of communication say his team has 16 starters coming back this fall.
Then he said he’s been pleased with the work his young people have put in despite the bad weather that has plagued practice.
Terrelle Pryor has had an interesting spring because he can’t do much as he recovers from offseason surgery so he’s helping guide the youngsters competing to take his spot as starting quarterback for the first five games of the season. (Pryor is hoping to be cleared to run May 1).
He has been proud of the progress Pryor has made every year since he became the starter earlier than anyone expected him to in 2008. They need him to make another significant improvement this year in order to come close to meeting his potential.
(Then he said something contradictory about the importance or lack thereof spring football has in the grand scheme of things)
Asked about one the NFL draft’s talking heads declaring Pryor is more likely to be drafted as a tight end than a quarterback (or something like that), Tressel said he doesn’t put much stock in opinions good or bad but that he heard from NFL coaches and personnel people who were in town recently for Cameron Heyward’s pro day that they were impressed with the quantum leap Pryor made from year two to year three as a starter. He showed a much greater understanding of the game and ability to manage it.
Those NFL people said they aren’t too worried with how many games he plays next year so long as they see more progress like he’s already made.
He expects Pryor to be selected as a QB in the 2012 draft.
As for picking someone to start the first five games, he said he’s nowhere near ready to do that.
The best quarterback Tuesday was Kenny Guiton, but since there is no game tomorrow, he’s not going to pretend like there is one and give a hypothetical starter. The key thing he’s looking for is consistency, and that takes time to develop. He will try to have a pecking order established for the fall because there will not be as many repetitions to go around when Pryor returns to health.
He revealed junior linebacker Jonathan Newsome is in his doghouse but they are optimistic he can find his way out of it soon. Newsome has not carried out all the duties they expect of him…
Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson thinks the talent level is reasonable and the team has been competitive the past couple of seasons but needs a better mindset to win more games. (I agree with this – I don’t think the Hoosiers are that far away)
He’s taking his quarterback selection slowly, too, and is looking for a leader to emerge. Teddy Schell, Adam Follett, Andre Kates and Edward Wright-Baker are all splitting reps, and he looks for them to continue to lead during summer workouts and seven-on-sevens, etc.
He’s happy with his team’s work so far but he is nowhere near formulating a depth chart, and he expects some freshmen to be a part of it.
They have 15 starters back from team that couldn’t close out games because of various reasons, including foolish errors, in the past.
“We’ve been competitive but we haven’t been winning.”
They are working on upgrading talent but also working the seniors hard on not being satisfied or complacent…
Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema is excited for the opportunity to play in a conference championship game and the way the league has formed two divisions.
In rebuilding an offensive line that lost three starters, he has moved Ricky Wagner from right tackle, where he started for the first time last season, to left tackle and told him no pressure but the only other two left tackles they’ve had since he became coach both won the Outland Trophy. He’s also really happy with Kevin Zeitler, the other returning starter. He has not allowed a sack in three years at right guard.
Bielema looks at it as having six guys with starting experience vying for five spots. That includes center Peter Konz, tackle Josh Oglesby, guard Travis Frederick and tackle Casey Dehn.
On defense, they need to replace a lot of producting, a.k.a., big plays, with the loss of defensive end J.J. Watt.
He’s happy to have senior tackle Patrick Butrym back, and he is showing great leadership.
Mike Taylor has done a nice job at linebacker, and they are looking forward to the return of Chris Borland, who missed most of last season with a shoulder injury after being named Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2009.
Safety Aaron Henry is the leader in the secondary, and the defense got the better of the most recent scrimmage the team had.
Being able to tell recruits play Ohio State and Penn State every year is a big deal in recruiting. It helps them in recruiting Ohio and elsewhere against other people in their division, who they are already competing against for local recruits (Parents get to see them more often if they play those schools every year)
Sophomore Jon Budmayr is running No. 1 at quarterback and junior Curt Phillips will provide some competition in the fall but he’s still recovering from a torn ACL.
Replacing Scott Tolzien’s game managing skills will be a challenge. He really grew last year from the losses the team suffered in 2009. He learned how to deal with adversity.
Tight end continues to be a position of strength as senior Jake Byrne is back and he likes the look of youngsters Brian Wozniak and Jacob Pedersen. Wozniak has had some injuries but impresses them as an athlete and could be on Byrne’s level as a blocker…
Penn State head coach Joe Paterno was asked if college football seems to be out of control.
“I don’t know whether it’s out of control and to be frank with you we have some problems but i’m not the kind of guy who likes to throw rocks at the other guy because there are so many little things that can happen to you without you having control of them.”
He has been around the game for 65 years and seen good and bad and reactions to different situations. He thinks the game of college football is as good as it’s ever been in terms of caliber of play and interest of fans. The media gets credit for a lot of that but some problems get blown up because the press competes with television so sometimes they make things look worse than they are. His gut feeling without being completely sure is there have always been problems in college football and he doesn’t know if there are more than 30 years ago.
He said developing the offensive line is vital this year. They are trying to get a group of kids together who can play together. Overall they’ve made some progress but there’s still a long way to go. They don’t have a group that is going to dominate people up front, but technique is improving. They also need to develop the type of camaraderie that makes good lines.
He hasn’t thought about who will be the starting quarterback but likes what he’s seen out of both Matt McGloin and Rob Bolden. They know both can do the job.
Bolden is big strong kid who can really throw the ball.
Someone suggested the players have seen him more active on the field this year and he said, “I don’t think I did a particularly good job last year to be frank with you.”
That is partly because of how young they were. He didn’t want to push them too much.
He thinks the coaches need to do a better job than last year, but any increased activity on his part has not been intentional.
Purdue head coach Danny Hope saw improvements in all three phases of the game.
Last spring they had a lot of new faces on the team and then a lot of injuries. Seventeen freshmen played last year, so this year it was like they started further ahead with more experienced players.
Guys are stepping up on both lines and they got better in a lot of areas, including quarterback and linebacker.
Rob Henry entered spring as the No. 1 quarterback and remains there, although Robert Marve will challenge him in the fall when he is fully recovered from a knee injury. Marve was limited in the spring, meaning Caleb TerBush got good reps.
There will be competition there in the fall, just like at many positions.
Running back Rob Bolden should be 100 percent his fall. He did some noncontact stuff this spring but was held back for precautionary reasons…
Illinois head coach Ron Zook was asked about replacing stud running back Mikel Leshoure and instead talked about Akeem Spence taking over at defensive tackle for Corey Liuget.
Quarterbach Nathan Scheelhaase made great strides last year down the stretch and has improved in offseason.
The Fighting Illini are working this spring to improve passing game in all facets, including protection and yards after the catch. He’s pleased with what they’ve accomplished.
Scheelhaase probably threw more passes last year counting whole year than he had in any other year of his life. He has a stronger and more accurate arm now, and he’s working on knowing where to go with the ball. Football is a reaction game so more times you do something the better you are at it and the quicker you get.
To increase YAC, they worked on getting the ball to the receivers quicker and in place they can make some moves and go with it.
It’s been a lot more fun this spring building off bowl-winning season and not having to deal with installing a new offense and defense.
Martez Wilson, Liuget and linebacker Nate Bussey are big losses but that gives other guys the chance to step up.
Ian Thomas moved back to Mike linebacker to replace Wilson while Ashante Williams is at Thomas’ old Sam spot. He’s happy with what he’s seen from Jonathan Brown and Houston Bates as outside linebacker, too.
Getting back to replacing Leshoure, he said Jason Ford doing well although he’s dealing with a minor knee injury. He has lost some weight and still needs to lose more, but when he does, he can be a heck of a player. This time last year they thought he could have beaten out Leshoure, then Leshoure went on to have an All-Big Ten season.
Behind Ford, they’re impressed with Troy Pollard and Bud Golden. Golden had a sprained toe but has had an opportunity to step up and run the ball.