Tag:Big Ten Football
Posted on: November 1, 2010 1:23 pm
Edited on: November 1, 2010 1:42 pm

Minnesota interim Jeff Horton standing by Weber

Posted by Chip Patterson

Minnesota football fans no longer have Tim Brewster to absorb their blame for another failed season in Minneapolis.  While the athletic department is working on narrowing down the list of candidates for his replacement, current interim head coach Jeff Horton has his hands full trying make the best of the games left on the slate in 2010.  With Brewster gone, much of the negativity from the Minnesota faithful has been directed at starting quarterback Adam Weber.  After picking up their eighth straight loss, the emails have been pouring into Horton's account on a daily basis.  According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the e-mails have become so plentiful Horton has created an auto-reply:
He replies to some of the thoughtful ones, spikes the more profane, but can't find time to answer them all. So to save him the trouble, here's a public reply -- all, straight from the keyboard of the Gophers' decision-maker,

Re: Adam Weber and MarQueis Gray. Dear Gophers Fan: No, there are no plans to change quarterbacks. None. Not now, maybe not ever this year. Thanks for your support, and Go Gophers! -- Jeff

"I think I've been pretty clear," Horton said.
Wide receiver MarQueis Gray is reported to only be taking about 10 percent of the snaps during the week in practice, and at this point in the season it would be pointless to try and install a new offense based around Gray's running and decision-making ability.  There has been talks of a pistol package being installed at Minnesota, but with only three games left on the schedule the best chance to win is to stick with the offense at hand and pray for the best.  Weber hasn't even really been that bad as a quarterback, his 17 touchdowns are good for fourth in the conference and statistically is quite similar with Michigan State's Kirk Cousins.  But for a 1-8 team that still has yet to win a game in conference play, statistics are not good enough for the fans.  Sounds like there won't be any changes though, so they might as well get used to it or continue to receive auto-reply's for the remainder of the month. 
Posted on: October 28, 2010 7:38 pm
Edited on: October 28, 2010 7:54 pm

Penn State spares no expense to duplicate Denard

Posted by Chip Patterson

Week in and week out, teams do their best to figure out a way to duplicate the athleticism and skill of Denard Robinson on their scout team.  We are nine weeks into the football season, and still no one has picked up my suggestion of a jackrabbit with a jetpack, but that's their loss.  Usually it is a backup wide receiver or defensive back playing Robinson, trying to mimic Michigan's potent offense that has burned opposing defenses for an average of 532 yards per game, good for second best in the nation.

Sitting well behind the competition with a 1-2 record in Big Ten play, Penn State cannot afford to fall short in any aspect of their preparation for Saturday's showdown with the Wolverines in Happy Valley.  When outfitting Nittany Lions cornerback Evan Lewis as the scout team quarterback, Penn State spared no expense on the look.  Lewis was doing his best impression of the speedy, evasive Robinson all week, wearing a wig with dreadlocks.  Penn State linebacker Matt Mauti chucked about chasing down Penn State's version of the signature locks during Wednesday's teleconference.

"He does a real good job," Mauti said of Lewis. "He's a real good athlete. He gives us a real good look. This kid is shifty and he's making guys miss all week. Obviously, he's not going to have the blazing 10.2 100-meter speed (of Robinson), but he's shifty and he's making guys miss. I have to give the kid credit. He's been doing well all week, as he has all season on the scout team."

Evans may be doing his best job to mimic Denard, but Robinson is near impossible to duplicate.  All the Nittany Lions can honestly hope to do is contain the superstar quarterback, and try and force him into making bad decisions with his arm.  Robinson has thrown four interceptions in the last two games, both losses for the Wolverines.
Posted on: October 27, 2010 9:50 am
Edited on: October 27, 2010 9:54 am

Kevin Sumlin emerging as Minnesota frontrunner?

Posted by Chip Patterson

While Minnesota interim head coach Jeff Horton has his hands full this week preparing the Golden Gophers for their conference matchup with Ohio State, athletic director Joe Maturi and the rest of the Minnesota administration are busy trying to narrow the list of coaching candidates.  Several high profile names were tossed around initially (Dungy, Leach), but the one that is gaining steam is current Houston head coach Kevin Sumlin.

Marcus R. Fuller of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported early Wednesday morning that there was "lots of love being thrown Kevin Sumlin's way all of the sudden."  Of all the active coaches on the Golden Gophers' radar, Sumlin is one of their most high profile options.  He has only in his third season as a head coach, but his Division I coaching career goes back almost two decades.  

There are several factors that make Sumlin seem like a great fit at Minnesota. Maturi has already stated that the next Golden Gophers head coach needed to "get Minnesota," and Sumlin served as an assistant at Minnesota from 1993-1997.  Sumlin's staff at Houston also has Minnesota connections, with assistant head coach Tony Levine a former Gophers WR and Minnesota native.  He is already getting endorsements from the Gophers football community, most recently from former offensive line coach Gordy Shaw.

Sumlin appears to be a great fit for Minnesota, and a much more favorable option to throwing a ton of money at an inactive coach.  At 46, Sumlin still has a lengthy career ahead and with all of the personal connections to the area (his wife is a native as well), could be interested in setting up shop for the long term.

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Posted on: October 25, 2010 5:43 pm

Suspended MSU CB jailed for violating probation

Posted by Chip Patterson

Michigan State cornerback Chris Rucker was a crucial piece of the Spartans defense until he violated his probation by operating a vehicle while intoxicated earlier this month.  Head coach Mark Dantonio quickly issued an indefinite suspension for the senior, who was already on probation for his involvement in an on-campus fight less than a year ago.  

While his Spartan teammates spend the week preparing for one of the biggest games of the season at Iowa, Rucker is with his new teammates at Ingham County Jail.  East Lansing District Court Judge David Jordon said Rucker pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of reckless driving, and will be released on Thursday after serving an eight day sentence.  He also received two additional years of probation as part of the plea agreement.  

The Spartans have moved on without Rucker on the field, and Dantonio has them focused on defending their undefeated record in Iowa City on Saturday.  The jailing should not serve as a major personnel issue on the field or off-field distraction for Michigan State, though it is unfortunate for Rucker.  He was a preseason All-Big Ten selection, and had already started his senior season with strong performances against Notre Dame and Wisconsin.  

Rucker's role with the football program in the future is yet to be determined, and Dantonio is not expected to address the issue until his weekly news conference on Tuesday.

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Posted on: October 22, 2010 4:08 pm
Edited on: October 22, 2010 4:17 pm

Patterson's Insane Predictions: Week 8

Posted by Chip Patterson

Every season, every month, every week, there are several outcomes and achievements that, frankly, nobody operating within reason would ever predict. Who could have predicted Nebraska would beat Florida for the 1995 title by 38 points, or that Boise State would pull off three late trick plays to knock off Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, or that South Carolina would fail to score a point in the second half against Kentucky a week after knocking off the Tide? Nobody... until now. We're going to try capture that lightning in a bottle by making similarly absurd predictions every week. Are they at all likely to come true? No. Do we even believe the words we're writing? No. But if we make even one correct call on these, we will never stop gloating. Ever.

Highly Unlikely

Jordan Jefferson's utter distaste for the Auburn Tigers is fully revealed with a historic performance on Saturday.  Last season, Jefferson entered the contest with the Tigers having thrown interceptions in three out of the last four games.  He went on to stun the Auburn defense, throwing for 242 yards and two touchdowns.  Jefferson adds to his record against the Tigers by throwing (gasp) a perfect game as a quarterback.  Jefferson completes 30 of 30 passes for 324 yards and four touchdowns with ZERO interceptions to lead LSU in the 35-31 victory in Auburn.  Cam Newton has a chance to win the game in the last minute but Les Miles' spies apprehend him with a planted laptop in his flack jacket.  TIGERGATE!

Severely Unlikely

Tennessee trots out the young Tyler Bray for some snaps against the Tide, and the freshman explodes for 297 yards and a pair of touchdowns in two quarters of action.  Trailing 28-27 with four seconds left on the clock, Volunteers kicker Michael Palardy lines up a 34-yard field goal searching for some sweet redemption for the Tennessee faithful.  A rocking Neyland Stadium drops to silence as Marcel Dareus charges up the A-gap and extends his arm to pull off his best Terrence Cody impression.  History repeats itself and Dareus deflects the kick, celebration ensues on the Crimson Tide sideline.  But there is a flag on the play.  Twelve men on the field is called because Greg McElroy is standing on field, trying to sign language his cell phone number to a Tennessee cheerleader.  Palardy drills the second attempt to seal the upset, and Nick Saban sets McElroy's 'Bama Bangs ablaze with his eyes. 

Completely Ludicrous

While sitting out in a duck blind, former Minnesota head coach Tim Brewster texts in every play call to his interim replacement/offensive coordinator Jeff Horton.  Interestingly enough, Brewster calling plays with no knowledge of down or distance is more effective than having him on the sideline.  The Golden Gophers succeed in knocking off Penn State 28-10, picking up their first conference win of the season.  Coach Joe Paterno tries to get some offensive spark by inserting freshman Kevin Newsome in a wildcat package.  Paterno paces his feeble fibulas up and down the Nittany Lions sideline but can't find Newsome anywhere.  He is back in University Park in Music Building 1, tickling the ivories.  

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Posted on: October 20, 2010 11:21 am
Edited on: October 20, 2010 11:24 am

Scott Linehan gets endorsement for UM job

Posted by Chip Patterson

Tim Brewster's mid-season firing from his post as head coach of the Minnesota Golden Gophers had led to an early spin of the coaching carousel.  But what would college football be if we couldn't sit around discussing coaching rumors.  Tony Dungy, reportedly one of Minnesota's top targets, has already declined interest in the job.  It has been suggested that Minnesota should seek the services of former Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach, and he has already stated he is willing to listen to anybody.  Jeff Horton, the Golden Gophers first-year offensive coordinator, has found himself assuming the duties of the departed Brewster and has already begun endorsing candidates for the open position when he was speaking to the media on Tuesday.

"Scott Linehan would be an awesome candidate," said Horton, who was chosen to coach the Gophers' final five games this season after Tim Brewster was fired Sunday. "He would bring his record here with the Vikings, and their offense speaks for itself. He's coached in college before. He knows the college game, and he's been on the highest level in the pros."

Linehan has spent the better part of the last decade bouncing from several different positions in the NFL.  He served as the offensive coordinator at Minnesota (including the high-octane 2004 season, referenced above), Miami, and served the same position for the last two seasons with the Detroit Lions.  Linehan's only head coaching experience was a brief stint with the St. Louis Rams that included an 11-25 record and getting fired four games into his third season.  Horton has spent the last four season working on Linehan's staff (2006-2008 with St. Louis, 2009 with Detroit), and clearly wants to get his "close friend" back into the college game.  Linehan's last college coaching experience was serving as offensive coordinator from 1996-2001 at Washington and Louisville.

Linehan does not bring the type of resume that Leach would, and might not be the first choice of fans and boosters.  The Pioneer Press suggested on Tuesday that Minnesota might pursue former Golden Gophers quarterback Marc Trestman.  Trestman, now head coach of the Canadian Football League's Montreal Alouettes, would not address the situation with the Canadian press.

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Posted on: October 6, 2010 5:25 pm
Edited on: October 6, 2010 5:28 pm

Penn State considering using two quarterbacks

Posted by Chip Patterson

For Penn State, it is not hard to look at their body of work so far this season and understand what needs to be improved.  The 3-2 Nittany Lions are averaging 30.0 points per game in their victories, only those wins were against Youngstown State, Kent State, and Temple.  Against ranked teams, Penn State is 0-2 and has yet to muster more than three points in a game.  Preparing for Illinois on Saturday in Happy Valley, head coach Joe Paterno has some ideas for jump-starting the offense.

There's a chance Penn State will insert Kevin Newsome as a change-of-pace Wildcat quarterback Saturday against Illinois.

"We discussed that," Nittany Lions coach Joe Paterno said Tuesday. "But Kevin's got to spend a little more time doing his homework. Right now, he's gotten by with his athletic ability."

"But I think there is a place for him," Paterno said. "Maybe we have to use him a little bit more. I don't know."

Newsome is averaging 5.4 yards per carry on the season, though a majority of that damage was in the three wins against non-AQ teams.  Still, the sophomore has displayed the speed and athleticism to demand a defenses respect.  Newsome may not be able to be the Penn State playmaker himself, but his presence in the game will demand that opponents stay honest, as well as cut down on snaps for true freshman Robert Bolden.  Bolden has been effective moving the ball, but has struggled to keep the ball out of the opponents hands.  His 1035 yards passing and three touchdowns are greatly overshadowed by the six interceptions on the season.  

Newsome's ability to run could particularly help the Nittany Lions out in the red zone.  In 18 trips, Penn State has only been able to score six touchdowns, will settling for six field goals, and failing to score at all six times.  The threat of Newsome on the ground should spread the defense and give offensive coordinator Galen Hall more flexibility with red zone play-calling.

Newsome is not only multi-talented on the field, but flexes his musical capabilities off the field as well.  This is him tickling the ivories before bed checks during training camp.

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Posted on: October 5, 2010 1:54 pm
Edited on: October 5, 2010 1:55 pm

Denard Robinson resting, will play against MSU

Posted by Chip Patterson

Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson has quite literally done it all this season, and can be credited as the biggest reason the Wolverines enter Saturday's showdown with Michigan State 5-0.  Head coach Rich Rodriguez finally developed the weapon he needed to run his option-based offense that worked so well at West Virginia.  Robinson, the early Heisman frontrunner, has accounted for 1913 of Michigan's 2822 total yards of offense on the season.  Robinson has been able to accomplish all of that while sitting out three quarters of Michigan's 65-21 rout of Bowling Green with a bruised left knee.

Robinson returned on Saturday against Indiana and racked up 494 total yards and five touchdowns, including the game winning touchdown.  Robinson did miss a few plays are tweaking the same knee he injured against Bowling Green, but returned to action and appeared to be fine.  After all the work Robinson has done, it is not surprising to see Rodriguez limiting Robinson in practice this week.
“Yeah, he'll be a little limited, just because he’s been running so much,” coach Rich Rodriguez said Monday. "You want him 100 percent on Saturday. Denard is one you have to jerk out of there because he wants to take so many reps. He’s walking around fine. Everything is fine.”
Robinson is currently the nation's leading rusher, and has already become the first player in FBS history to pass and rush for 200 yards in a game twice in a season.  When the Wolverines welcome MSU to the Big House on Saturday, they will need a 110% Denard to emerge victorious.  The match up between in-state rivals now has conference implications as well, with the Wolverines and Spartans being two of the four remaining undefeated teams in the Big Ten.  

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com