Reviewing the Previews for the 2013 Big Ten Offenses

Reid Compton-US PRESSWIRE

I don't know if you noticed, but we at Maize n' Brew were doing a preview series for all of the Big Ten teams regardless of the ones that Michigan is going to face this season. Part of that preview included me doing previews for the various Big Ten offenses. Here's a general recap of those articles.

If you're a member of the "tl;dr" crowd, then this post is for you.*

Illinois

Offensive preview link is found here.

Grade: C-

Why They Got This Grade:

No one disputes that Illinois was terrible on both sides of the ball in 2012. However, I don't think it's fair to dish out an "F" rating to any team when they've at least made some changes in the hopes that they'll improve. I especially don't like to predict that a unit will suck before the season starts, because the simple truth is that we don't know how good or bad Illinois will be. They hired a new offensive coordinator in Bill Cubit, who has head coaching experience from Western Michigan and knows that if he wants to have a job by the end of the season he better get things moving on his side of the ball. I personally think Cubit and the offense will do fine, and by "fine" I mean that they'll be close to average. Still, because Illinois has to make such leaps and bounds to be better, "close to average" means that they'll be more C- than C+.

Iowa

Offensive preview link can be found here.

Grade: C+

Why They Got This Grade:

Like Illinois, Iowa was pretty terrible last year, but that doesn't necessarily mean they'll be terrible again this year. Sure, there are concerns, like the fact that head coach Kirk Ferentz doesn't have an experienced quarterback to lead his team through the mire of yearly struggles. Offensive coordinator Greg Davis is trying some new things in the hopes that he'll be around for a third year, because the last thing Ferentz wants to do is have to hire somebody new again. This is a young team, too, which means that they'll be developing. The Hawkeyes could develop quickly and find themselves better than people expect, which could mean that they'll be more in the B/B+ range, but I'm going with the safe choice at this point and saying that C+ is a fair assessment.

Indiana

Offensive preview link can be found here.

Grade: A-

Why They Got This Grade:

Offensively, Indiana was no push-over last year, even against challenging defenses. They hung in there with the best of them (the 52-49 close loss to OSU stands out), while at the same time getting blown out (62-14 against Wisconsin, 44-29 against Northwestern) in contests where their offense struggled. Indiana hasn't been able to take pride in its football program for what probably has been decades, leaving many Hoosier fans to just stop caring and wait for basketball season. However, Kevin Wilson's team is steadily improving, but he won't get very far if only one part of it is effective. Even for an offense that was good sometimes, being good sometimes isn't good enough. Nevertheless, he has more returning starters on offense than anyone (save Minnesota), which means that this could potentially be his most threatening offensive unit yet.

Minnesota

Offensive preview link can be found here.

Grade: B

Why They Got This Grade:

'Sota clocks in at a solid B and I can't really see any if's, and's, or but's about it. The offensive line that was young and confused two years ago is now veteran and on the tail end of its development. Jerry Kill has a sophomore quarterback who impressed as a true freshman and who should be even more impressive as he continues to gain more experience. The Gophers finally have an answer at running back and are quietly stocking the position with talent and depth. However, as good as the overall unit might be for Minnesota (it will probably be the best offense they've seen in 5 to 7 years), the question becomes whether or not the offense is good enough to win more Big Ten games besides two. Minnesota is getting better than the conference's basement, and to the Gopher fan base that's probably a welcome sight, but to go up against the Big Ten's best defenses they'll have to be better than just decent. The Gophers aren't quite there yet.

Purdue

Offensive preview link can be found here.

Grade: B/B+

Why They Got This Grade:

Purdue could turn out to be a surprisingly good offense in the Big Ten this year, or they could turn out to be a total bust. The Boilermaker offense was spotty and sporadically average a year ago, despite that they were ranked 3rd in passing and sat in the top half of the conference in terms of total offense. Purdue will need to improve drastically on third down and make serious strides in taking care of the ball. There are also position battles at several positions, most notably quarterback, but the good news is that the Gold and Black have some highly-touted youngsters eager to step up. The offense is also shifting to an Alabama/Wisconsin-esque style of play, where they run the ball all over you. It's a new approach, and it should be fun to watch develop. However, the biggest knock against the offense is that Darrell Hazell's hiring of John Shoop as OC, after he burned out with the Chicago Bears, doesn't inspire much confidence.

Michigan State

Offensive preview link can be found here.

Grade: B-

Why They Got This Grade:

Michigan State looked at how Alabama replaced quarterback Greg McElroy with A.J. McCarron and said, "Hey, we can just do the same thing by replacing Kirk Cousins with Andrew Maxwell," and it turns out that no, Michigan State, you can't 'just do the same thing.' Despite being groomed for years to be Cousins' replacement and the most awesome quarterback to ever grace East Lansing, Maxwell fell far below the mark. Now he's being pushed by Connor Cook, who bears a much closer resemblance to Cousins in terms of his poise and leadership, and who will probably have the job locked down by the end of the season. The Spartans also have to find a way to replace Le'Veon Bell, who practically carried MSU's offense the way Denard carried Michigan's, with no proven options. That doesn't spell good things for a team that is looking to pass Michigan as the best team in the state. Personally, I think even a grade of B- is beyond generous, but the Spartan offense could surprise people the way it has before.

Wisconsin

Offensive preview link can be found here.

Grade: B/B+

Why They Got This Grade:

So when Gary Andersen was hired I thought that the days of Wisconsin running the ball nine times out of ten would be long gone, but since he hired Andy Ludwig, who ran a conservative pro-style offense at San Diego State, the offense in Madison is unlikely to be a radical departure from recent years. Although we really have no clue how good Wisconsin is going to be, the little we can glean so far is that the running backs are probably going to be good, which sounds like a given when talking about Wisconsin. I also called Ludwig a "poor man's Al Borges" because he didn't/doesn't care to air it deep, but he does like to utilize more mobile QBs, which explains why SDSU was more successful under Ludwig with Adam Dingwell and Ryan Katz than with Ryan Lindley, who Borges had transformed into a passing weapon. Wisconsin will likely aim for Russell Wilson-type years of production from their quarterbacks going forward.

Northwestern

Offensive preview link can be found here.

Grade: A-/A

Why They Got This Grade:

The only reason why this unit isn't an A+ is because offensive line has been a bit of a minus for the Wildcats in recent years (maybe every year?) and they're replacing three starters from the patchwork job from last year. A- seems like an appropriate floor and we can extend the potential to A range with the amount of playmakers returning. Also, depending on the Big Ten fan you ask, this could be seen as the scariest offense in the conference. They seem to find a way to score (and score a lot) against pretty much every defense they face, and if you're not worrying that the scrappy team in Evanston could manage to pull an upset, you might want to start.

Penn State

Offensive preview link can be found here.

Grade: B+/A-

Why They Got This Grade:

You have to be careful about what you say about Penn State, because some Nittany Lions fan is going to pop up and try to start something if you even imply that Penn State's offense wasn't perfect last season. The truth is that Penn State offensively was unexpectedly good last season, and even more so because Bill O'Brien improved the offense from Joe Paterno's squad when a lot of people expected the opposite to happen. The question now becomes: when will the glaring lack of depth be felt on the field? Penn State also doesn't have the moxie of Matt McGloin leading the charge anymore, and they'll have to replace him with one of two QBs who are brand new to the offense. The good news for Penn State fans is that McGloin was new to the offense last year, too.

Nebraska

Offensive preview link can be found here.

Grade: A-/A

Why They Got This Grade:

I personally believe that Nebraska and Northwestern are and will be the two best offenses in the Legends Division in 2013 unless the Devin Gardner/Al Borges combination takes off as well as some Michigan fans expect it to. The Cornhuskers are offensively just as good as Northwestern but have to answer a lot of questions on the defensive side of the ball. They'll have more of a tandem running the football than a single-back set, and nearly everyone who scored points is back in Lincoln. Finally, quarterback Taylor Martinez is a senior and has improved steadily throughout his four years playing for Big Red. He might not ever be a quarterback like Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, but he's become a decent enough option through the air, and with proven receivers there to target, that makes this offense look scary good.

Ohio State

Offensive preview link can be found here.

Grade: A (!?!?!?!?!)

Why They Got This Grade:

I know, WHAT THE HELL, right? Why the heck is Ohio State getting an A? Something must be wrong with my brain. You skimmed (or read, lol) all the way through this article only to see that Ohio State, the root of all evil, the best example of everything wrong with college football (nay, collegiate sports), gets a flipping A grade. Before you start throwing full wine bottles at your computer screens, let me remind everybody that I would never trade Devin Gardner for Braxton Miller, and I think Michigan's offense could be better than Ohio State's as early as this season. That being said, I have to at least try to be objective about how good Ohio State is. And, on offense, they have the most experienced unit in the conference. They return starters at every position except tight end, and while they need to improve their passing game, they have the talent to do so and there's no reason to suggest that they'll be worse than last year, barring something unforeseen like an injury to Braxton Miller. Still, you don't make previews with the assumption that a player is going to get injured, but even if Miller does (unlikely; he bounced back from every would-be injury in 2012), it's not like Urban Meyer won't just put the entire offense on his running backs the way Brian Kelly did to Notre Dame in 2010. I'm hesitant to say that Ohio State is the best offense in the Big Ten, but I'm less hesitant to say they can be.

Agree? Disagree? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Which offense scares you (if any)? Which offense will be better than people expect? Which will be worse?

*Obviously if you're a member of the "tl;dr" crowd, it's unlikely that you'll read this whole thing. The idea was to give you a way to go to the specific team you were interested in and read the summary of why their offense got the grade they did. Then maybe you'll click the link in each section if you're interested in reading more. Plus, I don't know if you realize it, but I just tricked you into scrolling through the entire post by doing that thing with the asterisk. MWAHAHAHAA!

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Maize n Brew

You must be a member of Maize n Brew to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Maize n Brew. You should read them.

Join Maize n Brew

You must be a member of Maize n Brew to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Maize n Brew. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9347_tracker