Dylan Rivers, Penn State
Oh, yeah, Penn State. Well, the Nittany Lions got a really nice 2017 four-star this week in Dylan Rivers, a 6'2", 220-pound prospect out of Stephens City, Virginia.
Penn State is trying to reload a lot of things with the 2016 class: offensive line, every corner of the defense, and kicker. Only three spots are taken up by offensive skill positions (QB, RB, WR, & TE). That's a miniscule number for this late in the year.
The Lions will probably make it out of 2016 with three linebacker pledges, but Rivers is some good insurance for 2017. He's one of the better defensive prospects committed to a Big Ten team that I've seen so far in this class.
Offensive Stats: Popcorn Bites
Most dependable starting receiver: Indiana's Mitchell Paige, 70.7% catch rate
Most explosive starting running back: Maryland's Brandon Ross, 9.2 highlight yards/opp.
Most efficient starting running back: Indiana's Jordan Howard, 47.2% opportunity rate
Busiest fullback: Nebraska's Andy Janovich, 36 carries
Conference's best tight end (easily): Michigan's Jake Butt, 566 yards, 68.3% catch rate
Most reliant on the long ball: Penn State's Saeed Blacknall, 27.3 yards per catch
Biggest drop in production: Ohio State's J.T. Barrett, 3772 yards to 1115
Biggest three-headed monster: Iowa's Canzeri, Daniels, and Wadley, 1863 yards, 25 TD's
Most efficient offense: Ohio State
Most explosive offense: Penn State
Best starting field position: Michigan, 34.8-yard line
Unsurprisingly, Jake Butt has been the most targeted tight end in the Big Ten, with almost 20% of Michigan's throws going his way. No other tight end in the conference surpasses 14%. The Big Ten's best rushing quarterback, Perry Hills, is only 20th in the Big Ten with 542 yards. A Wisconsin running back has gotten 100 yards against another Big Ten team only twice this season: Corey Clement against Rutgers, and Dare Ogunbowale against Nebraska, which has to be pretty sick of it.
Christian Hackenberg has thrown only three interceptions, but has 36 sacks, which is on pace to be less than last year's 44. Outside of a 76-yard gallop against UNLV, Michigan's Ty Isaac is averaging 4.4 yards a carry on the year, and 3.5 in his limited amount of Big Ten play. Last year, seven Big Ten running backs got 1,000 yards. This year, only three have: Ezekiel Elliott, Jordan Howard, and Justin Jackson. Two more have a good chance - Saquon Barkley and Jordan Canzeri.
Hitting the Links Sips His Coffee
So, Ohio State played MSU this past Saturday. They lost, 17-14, and Ohio State fans everywhere were sad, and I drank it all up like one of the Wretched in the Citadel. Anyway, Ezekiel Elliott had some strong words about the play-calling afterward. He also announced he will be going pro, and Cardale Jones intimated the same thing. It was a rough weekend for Buckeyes fans, is the summary here. ♪ ♫ ♪ ♪ ♫
I support and appreciate the toned down reaction here. This might have a small, but indelible, impact going forward for a couple running backs though. Fans will certainly remember Elliott's comments, and Carlos Hyde tweeted similar sentiments right after the game as well. On a somewhat related note, here is a nice piece about LJ Scott, the Michigan State freshman who spurned the Ohio State Buckeyes after a lengthy recruiting process. It's worth remembering that RB George Hill, a recent decommit from OSU, is also considering signing with the Spartans.
It's Minnesota-Wisconsin week as well, as UW has opened as a small favorite. I actually kind of like Minnesota in this one. It's good to have Corey Clement back, though.
A more serious story here, unfortunately. Last week, there was an alleged rape at the home of Tommy Armstrong and Jordan Westerkamp, something that is still being investigated. It appears that neither player was involved, but what's notable about this is how it's being handled.
The new system, officials say, puts the job of investigating misconduct in the hands of those trained to investigate it and removes the coach from a potential conflict of interest in deciding whether a key athlete gets to stay on the field.
"It allows the coach to do what he's trained to do and hired to do, which is to coach the team," Potuto said.
Removing such powers from head coaches is something I've advocated before as part of a cluster of improvements within college football. Just this week, Maryland's Caleb Rowe continued playing against Indiana despite suffering a concussion, which is echoes of Shane Morris last year. A similar thing happened earlier this season to Oklahoma State's Blake Jarwin, as well.
And removing some responsibilities from the coaches is good for coaches as well, of course. It lets them coach, rather than have to act as doctors or detectives or psychiatrists. Nebraska handled this well, but not every athletic department will be on top of it when things swerve the wrong way.
This weekend will be Senior Day for the Gophers. A bit of recruiting news: Minnesota suffered two decommitments this week, one from three-star outside linebacker Andre Polk and the other from three-star defensive end Tralund Webber. They hail from Florida and Texas, respectively.
Both are really tough losses. Webber, as a JuCo, had a chance to make an impact next year as a speedy 250-pound lineman off the edge, while Andre Polk looked like he could bulk up and keep enough athleticism to be a difference-maker. Both were prototypical Minnesota commits: underrated.
This #Gophers stat is not all-encompassing, but when they have better field position than their opponent, U is 3-1. Without it, U is 2-5.— Andy Greder (@andygreder) November 22, 2015
Just see for yourself. Referees have been the story of the year. Apparently, this is not a catch:
I don't care what you say, the homie caught it pic.twitter.com/9UoXbWhFCW— Chikwe Obasih (@Big_Cheeks34) November 22, 2015
The rest of the Twitter reactions were good as well. Less good: both refs and cheerleaders were pelted with snowballs by angry Wisconsin fans.
Credit Iowa's success to simplicity - they've pulled off the simple, and ultimate, trick of steadily becoming better through November. They've been getting better on third downs, getting more explosive plays, and not overlooking their opponents. Sounds so good, it just might work.
Rise of the Hawkeyes. Iowa steadily climbing the AP Poll as the College Football Playoff nears. pic.twitter.com/C6ixcl95Wi— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 23, 2015
Iowa's opponent this week? A team that's resurrected its spiraling season by playing spoiler to Michigan State and almost doing the same to Northwestern October 24th.
Even Hall of Fame Super Bowl-winning head coaches can wear out their welcome eventually. There's only one Bill Belichick. Still, this is crazy.
Why go, in one off-season, from refusing to pay to keep John Chavis - one of the most reliable coordinators in the country - to being willing to pay $15 million to get rid of the whole staff? The AD might not like Les, but sometimes you have to bury your hatchets. It's called being an adult.
LSU also has the #1 recruiting class in 2016 (including Jamal Pettigrew, a Michigan tight end target). Here was me, two months ago: "No - LSU isn't going anywhere." LSU just saw a top QB decommit - it had been in the works for a while - but it leaves them scrambling at a position of dire need. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron (another old Michigan coach) will reportedly leave LSU this year regardless.
LeBron should afford it pretty easily. I love how his bet got brought up by a Michigan State player in the postgame.