Nebraska Cornhuskers: Jesse Della Valle
October, 4, 2013
By Chantel Jennings | ESPN.com
Some parents play classical music to their children when they’re in utero. You should probably read them Big Ten football facts, too. It’s always good to have a well-rounded child.
- Braxton Miller is a very good quarterback. Everyone knows that. In 2012, he was one of five players in the country to pass for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000. But he has also gotten better every year. As a freshman he completed just 53.5 percent of his passes inside the pocket, averaging 6.4 yards per attempt. In 2012 those numbers improved to 59.8 percent and 8.3 yards per attempt. And this season, he’s completing 69.2 percent of his passes inside the pocket and averaging 8.7 yards per attempt. Those improvements come from his training in the offseason, but he has also stayed inside the pocket more this season. Eighty percent of his passes this year have come inside the pocket as opposed to last season when just 67 percent of his passes were thrown from inside the pocket.
- Northwestern has the only offense in the Big Ten that averages more than 225 yards per game both rushing and passing and a big reason is because of its two-quarterback system. Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian are both talented, but have different skill sets. Colter has been in on 140 snaps this season while Siemian has been in for 141. When Colter is in, the Wildcats will execute a rushing play 75 percent of the time and on those plays, they average 6.5 yards per play. When Siemian is in, Northwestern rushes 50 percent of the time, and on those plays the Wildcats gain 7.1 yards per play on average.
- When Penn State and Indiana take the field this weekend, history will be on the side of the Nittany Lions. PSU holds a 16-0 record (included NCAA vacated wins) over Indiana since 1993 -- Penn State’s first season in the Big Ten. The closest game between the two teams came on Oct. 28, 2000, when Penn State came away with a three-point victory. The largest margin of victory for the Nittany Lions was on Nov. 15, 2003, when Penn State ran away with a 45-point win (52-7).
- Indiana has a battle of the classes this season. With just 10 seniors on its roster the Hoosiers account for the fourth fewest seniors on a team in college football. But already eight true freshmen have seen playing time for the Hoosiers.
- Michigan was given a gift of sorts with a bye week last weekend after lackluster performances against Akron and Connecticut. And it bodes well for the Wolverines, who have come away with wins in nine of their last 10 games following a bye. The lone loss was in 2010 when the Wolverines traveled to State College to face the Nittany Lions after a bye week. Penn State came away with a 41-31 win behind a huge offensive performance from former QB Matt McGloin (250 passing yards, 2-of-2 on fourth downs and 0 turnovers).
- Last season when Michigan State and Iowa met, the Hawkeyes came away with a three-point victory in double overtime. Unfortunately for the Spartans, they were accustomed to those kinds of tight losses. Excluding Michigan State’s 20-3 loss to Notre Dame in week three of 2012, the Spartans lost their other five games by a combined 13 points (2.6 points per game).
- Junior wide receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley leads the Big Ten with 25.78 yards per punt return. Those numbers were heavily aided by his two punt returns for touchdowns (83 yards, 63 yards) against Western Michigan. Without those returns, he would average just 12.29 yards per return, which would put him at fifth in the Big Ten behind Ohio State’s Corey Brown (61.1), Illinois’ V’Angelo Bentley (15.8), Minnesota’s Marcus Jones (13.1) and Penn State’s Jesse Della Valle (12.7).
- Illinois has fans all over the world. And it is also one of the few schools that can boast fans who are not currently in/on/about the world … meaning, space. Former Illinois defensive back (1988-91) and current NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins left Baikonur, Kazakhstan, on Sept. 25 and will be at the International Space Station until he returns in March 2014. If you’d like to follow along on his adventures, check him out on Twitter.
- Saturday will mark the first time Nebraska and Illinois meet on the field in a Big Ten game. The last time these two teams played was in 1986 (Nebraska won 59-14), which means none of Nebraska’s current players were born yet to see it. Bo Pelini may or may not have seen it. He would’ve been a senior in high school at the time.
- Minnesota coach Jerry Kill has the most tenured football staff in the nation. Not only is Minnesota one of just 18 schools to retain all assistants from 2012-13, but also his staff (between his nine assistants and strength and conditioning staff) accounts for 124 years served under Kill. Strength coach Eric Klein has been with Kill the longest (20 years), while linebackers coach Bill Miller is the baby on the staff (three years with Kill).
October, 2, 2013
By Chantel Jennings | ESPN.com
We're driving Cadillacs in our dreams.
- Ohio State coach Urban Meyer says that defensive tackle Michael Bennett's leadership has exceeded his expectations. RB Jordan Hall only had one carry against Wisconsin, but he's not a "forgotten man." Opponents have only gained three yards on Cameron Johnston's punts this season, and Kyle Rowland takes a deeper look at the Australian punter.
- USA Today's George Schroeder takes a look at the opportunity Pat Fitzgerald and the Wildcats have this weekend. Venric Mark's mojo is back and he's excited to get back on the field. Former NU coach Gary Barnett will return to Evanston Saturday to call the Northwestern-Ohio State game. Video: An inside look at halftime for Northwestern.
- The Wisconsin coaches predicted early on that Jared Abbrederis would have a big game against OSU. Wisconsin isn't happy with how penalized its offensive line was against Ohio State, and the Badgers aren't offering excuses. The bye week is coming at a clutch time for the Badgers.
- LB Brennen Beyer might be the Michigan defense's most important player. Michigan football manager Jon Falk -- who has been with the team for 40 years -- recounts some of his favorite Brown Jug stories. RS freshman DE Chris Wormley is glad to be back on the field after a year of injury and rehab.
- Michigan State OLB Taiwan Jones is looking forward to his matchup with Iowa RB Mark Weisman. Video: Graham Couch and Joe Rexrode discuss the Spartans kick returns, big plays and Big Ten opener. Quick coaching hires/fires are a part of today's game, but Mark Dantonio just does his job the best he can w/video.
- Jerry Kill is still waiting for a signature moment at Minnesota, but trophy games offer the possibility for one. The Gophers quickly shifted their focus from the Iowa loss to Michigan. Michigan will be a benchmark game for Minnesota again.
- Kirk Ferentz knows the MSU defense will be difficult to run against. Video: Ferentz discusses the Hawkeyes' Homecoming game vs. MSU.
- Penn State spent its bye week reviewing its identity as it heads in to Big Ten play. Bob Flounders' PSU mailbag answers questions regarding the offense and the secondary. Video: Junior safety Jesse Della Valle previews Indiana. Under Bill O'Brien, Penn State has gotten off to quick starts -- and it hopes to do the same against IU this weekend.
- Nebraska freshmen defensive players are prepping for Big Ten debuts. Offensive coordinator Tim Beck is keeping his mind open about the two-QB system. Bo Pelini is still unsure whether Taylor Martinez will play this weekend.
- Indiana is focusing on the run against Penn State. Kevin Wilson changed things up for the Hoosiers during the bye week.
- Illinois senior QB Nathan Scheelhaase will be the key to the Illini keeping its momentum in the Big Ten. Illinois (and Northwestern) could have defining games this weekend.