Football Potpurri is a semi-regular feature I'll do periodically, cuz I feel like it, and I want to work on my writing and football knowledge.
Nussmeier & Speed
When Hoke was hired in 2011, he hit the reset button on a lot of Michigan traditions. For one, he started going after tall wideouts, recruiting the 6'4" Jaron Dukes, 6'3" Csonte' York, 6'3" Jehu Chesson, and the 6'3" Mo Ways. He also snagged the 5'7" Dennis Norfleet just before Signing Day as a running back, but judging from the Spring Game, one change in how Nuss will approach the offense seems to be an increased affection for speed.
Freddy Canteen and Dennis Norfleet look to have pretty large roles in the offense, and backing them up on the depth chart could be some of the faster wideouts of their respective classes: DaMario Jones might be inching up the depth chart, and he was the shortest (6'2") and fastest of the '13 receivers. And Jehu Chesson, who's shown a lot of grind and work ethic so far, is said to be a little bit faster than Amara Darboh.
But of course, this is based on old or incomplete knowledge, because of all the receivers that are likely to hit the field in 2014, we've hardly seen any of them. In fact, Dennis Norfleet, Amara Darboh, Freddy Canteen, Jake Butt, A.J. Williams, Justice Hayes, ... (breath) ... Csonte' York, Keith Heitzman, Jehu Chesson, DaMario Jones, Derrick Green, Jaron Dukes, and De'Veon Smith have combined for 48 career catches, or fewer than 4 career catches on average for all of them. But approximately two-thirds of our passing offense will be coming from this group.
At any rate, we'll see come fall whether the model for wide receiver is still the same or is starting to change a little bit under Nussmeier.
A lot of things have happened off the field for the Big Ten this year. Northwestern has entered the forefront of the debate on student-athlete compensation, Maryland and Rutgers have entered the Big Ten, the Leaders and Legends Divisions have ceded to the Big Ten East and Big Ten West, and Chad Lindsay pitted Ohio State and Michigan against each other.
There's also been some bizarre headlines as well, with Iowa assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Eric Johnson leaving to run a fast-food joint and the Malik McDowell saga ending for Michigan State. However, here are a few other stories that may not have made a lot of waves, but will be more important come September.
1. Penn State decimated by injuries, more
This hasn't been a good off-season for Penn State. At the end of March, starting left guard Miles Dieffenbach went down with a serious knee injury. Less than three weeks later, both Brian Gaia and Wendy Laurent - two other offensive linemen - were taken out of the spring game. TE Adam Breneman was out for most of the spring with a bone bruise, and Anthony Alosi (guard on the offensive line) has criminal charges pending after allegedly attacking someone in State College. If that wasn't enough, incoming freshman linebacker Jason Cabinda was arrested for drunken driving and running a stop sign.
2. Indiana switching to a 3-4
The team that finished 120th last year in total defense fired their defensive coordinator and installed Brian Knorr and a 3-4 look on defense - the same one Notre Dame used effectively while getting to the national title game. They also have the personnel to do it with 6'5", 325-lb. Darius Latham and Ralph Green III plugging up the middle. The linebacker corps has bulked up and even converted two defensive ends in Nick Mangieri and David Kenney to give a more stout middle of the field to a team that ranked 11th in the B1G against the rush.
"Our defensive problems are well documented and known," said head coach Kevin Wilson. "We've got a chance to get better. But it’s all talk until we do."
Wisconsin, by the way, is the only other team in the Big Ten to run a 3-4 scheme.
3. SEC Speed?
Michigan fans have been enamored with Freddy Canteen, but he isn't the only speed coming to a field near you. Damion Terry has Michigan State fans captivated and will be seeing the field a lot more this fall in what looks like a dramatically more potent MSU attack. But that isn't all.
Maryland receiver Stefon Diggs is coming to the B1G, and he's been one of the best receivers in football. He caught 54 balls for 848 yards as a freshman and was on pace for 1,100 his sophomore year before a lower broken leg sidelined him for the last 6 games. Jabrill Peppers is coming to guard our backfield, of course. And all of OSU's starting defensive line is made up of defensive ends.
Yes, there's been some turnover at the talent positions, but Wisconsin is replacing James White (6.5 ypc, 1444) with up-and-coming Corey Clement (8.2, 547), and Penn State is losing Allen Robinson and Brandon Felder (125 catches, 1,744) but has no less than four young wideouts in line to replace them. Iowa's group is one of the more talented to go through Iowa City in some time, and Ohio State sees Carlos Hyde depart (yeah...) but will be replaced by Ezekiel Elliott, Bri'onte Dunn and Curtis Samuel (yeaah).
Hitting the Links - Buckeye Edition
Coaching is hard, April 17th, 2014
The Cost of Doing Nothing, April 18th, 2014
I have to hand it to Eleven Warriors for their article on Jameis Winston and morality in college sports.
More comments from Julie Hermann, April 19th, 2014
I think she's a Buckeye.
Buckeyes Simplifying Defense, April 23rd, 2014
You won't ever need five-stars to beat the Buckeyes.
Our offensive line looks a little like Ohio State's, April 24th, 2014
Who's going to be the best wide receiver?, April 27th, 2014
ESPN's Big Ten Spring Wrap-ups, April 28th, 2014