Thursday, October 17, 2013
Big Ten Thursday chat wrap
By Adam Rittenberg
I've been a bit delinquent on the chat wraps, but you guys brought your A-game today. And for those who missed out on the power hour, here's a full transcript.
To the highlights ...
Is there any chance Urban Meyer's comments after the Northwestern game eroded some of Braxton Miller's confidence?
Bernard from Columbus: I love Urban Meyer's coaching style, but I am concerned about how his public admission he considered benching Braxton Miller @ NW has impacted Miller's confidence. Miller hasn't lost a start since being a true freshman, has one rough outing in a hostile environment, and now he has to look over his shoulder?
Adam Rittenberg: You could look at it that way, Bernard, but I agree with most coaches that competition brings out the best in players. Miller should know that there's accountability for mistakes. The great players will let that push them even harder. And to his credit, he played well in the second half and particularly the fourth quarter. I don't see this as a huge issue, unless Miller struggles this week against Iowa.
Dave from Oklahoma City: Al Borges has had enough evidence to prove that this Michigan team is not ready to move the ball on the ground the way he and Brady Hoke had hoped. But they continue to attempt the same offensive attack and philosophy. Do you think they will change the offensive game plan this year, or are we going to see more of the same?
Adam Rittenberg: There's definitely frustration building for Hoke and his assistants, as they've tried several offensive line combinations but haven't achieved the result they want. I can't see them abandoning the power run game, and they will not allow Devin Gardner to run the ball 20-plus times per game. But if the run game continues to sputter, I expect Michigan's run-pass ratio to go more toward the pass, especially with Devin Funchess emerging alongside Jeremy Gallon.
Ethan from Iowa: Assuming Iowa can take care of business against Purdue, what do you think their chances are of upsetting one of the remaining teams on their brutal schedule and becoming bowl eligible?
Adam Rittenberg: It's a tough road for the Hawkeyes, beginning this week against Ohio State. If Northwestern continues to struggle, Iowa has a good shot next week at home, although the Hawkeyes have really struggled against the Wildcats in recent years. Wisconsin and Nebraska both will be tough games, although both are rivalries, which can go either way. And Iowa has had a lot of success against Michigan. Depending on where the Wolverines are, I could see the Hawkeyes winning on Nov. 23.
Rob from Dayton, Ohio: What does the B1G have to do other than win big non-conference games to return to prominence? I guess what I am getting at is what is it going to take from a marketing perspective to have recruits regain interest in the B1G brand to return it to prominence? I think there is a disconnect between the younger generation and appeal to the B1G. The recruits are too young to remember the B1G being the premier conference in the 1990s and early 2000s. They only relate to the B1G bashing that has been going on for the past 5 to 10 years.
Adam Rittenberg: Really good question, Rob, as I'm fascinated by this topic. The Big Ten has to assess its branding approach, as I don't think the cold weather, black-and-blue, 3-yards-and-cloud-of-dust image works well for the league. The Big Ten clearly is at a geographical disadvantage when so many elite recruits are from the South and West. The league needs to sell its incredible stadiums (more night games), its bowl agreements, its scheduling opportunities, its facilities and its coaches. There's also a coolness factor the Big Ten struggles with at times in its marketing efforts.
Rob from Morristown, N.J.: Is this Northwestern's make it or break it year? Kain Colter and Venric Mark are both seniors...they pretty much are that offense. And I'm not sold on NW defense. What happens next year and thereafter?
Adam Rittenberg: I don't think so, Rob. Northwestern has a very small senior class (13) and has upgraded recruiting, especially with the 2014 class. The offense there has been good for some time, so while Colter and Mark will be key losses, Northwestern will continue to move the ball after they're gone. I actually think Northwestern's defense will be better next year as the depth improves. Next year, Northwestern should contend for a West division title. The key positions to develop will be defensive tackle, running back and cornerback (Northwestern gets Daniel Jones back in 2014).
Thanks for all of the questions. Talk to you again soon!