Tag:Chris L. Rucker
Posted on: October 16, 2011 3:08 am
Edited on: October 16, 2011 3:08 am
 

Big Ten Winners and Losers: Week 7



Posted by Adam Jacobi


WINNER: The general order of the universe as we knew it in the spring. Michigan State beat Michigan, Ohio State beat Illinois, Wisconsin beat Indiana, Iowa beat Northwestern, and Penn State beat Purdue. All normal ideas for the casual Big Ten fan during the off-season, more or less. Yet those first two results are rather surprising, because it was Michigan and Illinois coming into the week undefeated and ranked 16th or higher, not MSU or OSU. On Saturday, the Spartans and Buckeyes looked like the teams we figured they'd be coming into the year, though, and in a way so did the Wolverines and the Illini. 

Michigan State's victory was the most impressive of the week (sorry, Wisconsin), because nobody has bottled up the Michigan offense like that this year (more on the particulars in a second). After Notre Dame thwacked the Spartans in Week 3, it was fair to wonder if Michigan was also about to run up 30+ points and shut down the MSU rushing attack. Neither happened, and the Spartans are now all of a sudden back in beautiful shape for the Big Ten Legends Division race -- just like we figured before the season. 

LOSER: Those do-everything quarterbacks I was so proud of last week. So, Taylor Martinez had the week off, so he's off the hook. Denard Robinson and Nathan Scheelhaase, though? Last week, the two QBs averaged 267 yards passing, 102 yards rushing, and four TDs in their team's victories. Extrapolate those types of numbers over 12 or 13 games, and you've got a Heisman finalist.

Extrapolating single games out for a year is stupid, though, because on Saturday, those numbers dropped substantially. Scheelhaase threw for 169 yards and rushed for 49 more, while Robinson's numbers were a dismal 9-24 for 123 yards passing (one TD) and 18 rushes for 42 yards (another TD). Not surprisingly, both QB's teams lost by double digits. It's certainly fine to have a do-everything quarterback helming your offense, but that just means it's imperative that that quarterback actually puts big numbers up; if he doesn't, that team's in real trouble.

WINNER: Illinois' pass defense. Wow, the Illini held Ohio State to 17 yards on Saturday! That's quite an accomplishment! Yep, 17 yards on 1-4 passing. But wait... if the Buckeyes only passed four times for the entire game, then that means... uh-oh.

LOSER: Illinois' rush defense. Oh, there's the rest of the story. Ohio State rushed 51 times to the four passes, totalling 211 yards on the ground, and Dan Herron led the way with 113 yards in his first game back from suspension. Honestly, Illinois' effort on defense wasn't bad, and holding OSU to 4.1 yards a pop on the ground isn't really cause for panic, but this was an Illini rush defense that had been ranked ninth in the nation coming into the week, averaging 2.3 yards per carry given up. The Illini front seven had a reputation to uphold, and it didn't do a great job of it. 

WINNER: Somehow, inexplicably, Penn State. Penn State is 6-1 and on the verge of being in the Top 25. That is amazing news to anyone who has watched Penn State play, because the Nittany Lions are, at times, bafflingly bad on offense. The QB rotation between Matt McGloin and Rob Bolden continues to confound PSU fans, the rushing game comes and goes, and Penn State has now beaten the foursome of Temple, Indiana, Iowa, and Purdue by a grand total of 25 points. This team should not be 6-1, but there's no "should" column next to wins and losses.

The latest victory is a 23-18 decision over hapless Purdue, a game that should have been tied in the 4th quarter at 20-all if Purdue hadn't missed a PAT then missed a 2-point conversion to make up for the missed kick. Now, to be fair, Purdue never led, PSU never let Purdue manage so much as a first down after the game was 20-18, and the game ended with Penn State up 5 and taking knees inside the Boilermaker 10 yard line, but it was still another ugly, wretched affair all around. And yet just like the 4-point win over Temple and the 6-point win over Indiana, Penn State just did all it needed for the victory, and nothing more. Hey, a win's a win.

LOSER: Mark Dantonio's reputation as a disciplinarian. It seems like every season, fans are treated to anecdotes about what a great coach Mark Dantonio is, and how high his standards of player discipline are. "Zero tolerance" are his words, not ours. And it also seems like every season, there's an instance of Dantonio basically punting on discipline with his star players, like with Chris L. Rucker rejoining the team immediately after serving an 8-day jail sentence, or B.J. Cunningham taking part in a massive brawl on campus and missing one game as a result.

With that in mind, then, it's really not surprising to see star DE Will Gholston allowed to stay in a game after he punched Michigan OL Taylor Lewan (who, to be fair, had been holding Gholston's head on the ground earlier in the play). It was Gholston's second personal foul of the afternoon, with the first being a combination of a late hit and a face mask on Denard Robinson. The Big Ten may very well intervene and keep Gholston out for next week's game against Wisconsin, but the fact that Dantonio kept Gholston in the game after both incidents speaks far, far louder than Dantonio's claims of "zero tolerance."

WINNER: The Iowa athletic department. Before today's game, the fans at Kinnick Stadium were all given two-sided cards for one of those old-fashioned card stunts. The end result was really, really cool, and don't be surprised to see more of this type of thing around college football stadiums nationwide in the next few years or so. 

LOSER: Iowa's Northwestern demons. For years, the Hawkeyes have struggled mightily against Northwestern, sometimes even at the expense of BCS bowl dreams.  All in all, coming into today, Iowa had lost five of its last six against the Wildcats -- and the last four losses featured double-digit Hawkeye leads.

So when Iowa ran up a 17-0 lead on Saturday, then watched the Wildcats string together drive after drive to tie the game up at 17-17, it was only natural for Hawkeye fans to think, "here we go again." Fortunately for the home crowd, Iowa responded with 17 straight points of its own, and held on for the 41-31 victory. The win pushes Iowa to 4-2 (1-1) on the year, and with Michigan, Michigan State, and Nebraska all looming on the schedule, this win was crucial to the Hawkeyes' hopes for securing another winning season.


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Posted on: October 29, 2010 3:38 am
Edited on: November 13, 2010 6:09 pm
 

Chris Rucker may play for Michigan State at Iowa

Posted by Adam Jacobi

What do the words "zero tolerance" mean to you? A simple, straight interpretation of the term would mean that there are certain things that are beyond the pale of acceptable behavior, and violation of that rule would necessitate exclusion from whatever group set the rule -- in this case, a football team.

Oh, but Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio operates on a different level than you, and don't ever forget that, because A) he used a fake field goal to survive a heart attack and that is completely ballin' out of control; B) his handling of star cornerback Chris L. Rucker defies normal logic and he doesn't care. Back when Rucker and a good fraction of the Michigan State football team was involved in a gigantic fight with an academic fraternity (yes, they exist, and they're more prevalent than you think), Dantonio made a public statement about a "zero tolerance" policy toward the players implicated in the fight and his decision to grant eligibility to most of them. Rucker was one of those players.

Thus, one would this that Rucker was being held to the strictest of standards on and off the field. And yet, Rucker was arrested just this past week for OWI and thrown in jail for violation of probation after Rucker copped to a reckless driving charge. So, zero tolerance means Rucker's definitely off the Michigan State team, right? Oh wait:

Michigan State defensive back Chris L. Rucker was reinstated after serving eight days in jail following a drunken-driving arrest.

Coach Mark Dantonio said it would be Rucker's decision whether he travels with the team when the No. 5 Spartans play Saturday at No. 18 Iowa.

Mr. Dantonio? Some explanation?

“Our decision to immediately reinstate [Rucker] has been endorsed by the team's unity council and the program at-large,” Dantonio said in a statement. “This was a difficult decision. After much soul searching and dialogue with those who are vested in the program, I am comfortable and confident in the decision I have made.”

Well, wow. The excuse of "'zero tolerance' doesn't mean automatic dismissal," as Dantonio put it , doesn't hold an ounce of water, and it seems pretty clear that Dantonio knows that ... except Dantonio doesn't have a reason to care, and the fact that he won't be called out en masse about this decision only reinforces that point. If Dantonio can wrangle a logical justification to get Rucker on the field, he probably will, and it'll be less disadvantageous to Dantonio's job than if he leaves Rucker languishing on the bench.

That said, it's important to point out that there's a mountain of difference between Dantonio's description of Rucker's status (ssss) and outright reinstatement to the starting lineup. If a coach tells the press that something is "up to" a certain player, that statement is absolutely loaded with hidden meaning and conditions. What's up to Rucker? Does he have to give up alcohol forever? Is there an obligation he has to fulfill to the football team? There must be something  of great merit that Rucker has to accomplish that'll let the cornerback stay on the Michigan State football team even after he serves 8 days of jail time as a punishment for violation of his probation.

But Dantonio seems to be okay with allowing whatever condition must exist be played out immediately, and if there's any reason why Rucker can't play at Iowa , it seems to be kept secret at this point. PRO TIP: if reasons why a star player wouldn't be able to play in an upcoming game aren't made public in any respect, they probably don't exist, and that player will play immediately. Absent any new information, that's what we should expect here.


 
 
 
 
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