Spring Practice Primer: Big Ten


Spring practice is right around the corner, football fans. After the dreadful month of football-free February, teams will break out the pads and helmets for a few weeks of spring ball in March.

After a rough 2011 campaign, the Big Ten has plenty of prove next fall. Here are some storylines to follow as the B1G teams open camp.

The Urban Difference

Urban Meyer has taken over at Ohio State, and this spring he and his staff will be tasked with installing Meyer’s vaunted spread-option offense. Will the Buckeyes acclimate well or struggle? How will Urban use the deadly dual-threat skills of sophomore QB Braxton Miller?

It’s Maxwell Time

Michigan State’s senior class graduated as the most winning group out of any Spartan senior class. Their unquestioned leader, and absolutely fantastic quarterback Kirk Cousins has since moved onto the NFL draft. If the Spartans want to keep their success going, the coaches will hand the keys to the offense to Andrew Maxwell. Maxwell has two years of experience in the system and is very talented- for now it is only a matter of experience.

The New Wisconsin Family

After another immensely successful season, capped by a Rose Bowl run, Wisconsin Head Coach Bret Bielema had to replace six, that’s right six assistant coaches, including his offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, who has developed numerous All-Americans in recent years.

And strangely enough, Bielema hired a number of coaches who have worked in spread offenses before, not the pro-style attack the Badgers have preferred. The Badgers also enter the spring with a five-man quarterback race to replace Russell Wilson, who was excellent for the Badgers in his single season there.

Rebuilding the Lines in Ann Arbor

In Brady Hoke’s first season at Michigan, he helped turn a dreadful defense into one of the nation’s best (with Greg Mattison’s help of course) en route to an 11-2 record and a BCS bowl victory.  But that was largely on the back of a great group of seniors, including three starters on the defensive line and an All-American center.

Both Hoke and Mattison are defensive-line coaches, and they’ll have their hands full trying to rebuild the front four of the defense. If they can find some key players there, and a new center, Michigan should fare well in 2012.

Break a leg kid! No, just kidding

Though Danny Hope received a contract extension this off-season, Purdue has been maddeningly inconsistent over the past three seasons. That is mainly due to a staggering number of injuries, especially at quarterback. This spring, the Boilermakers should have all three quarterbacks healthy, and it’s time for Purdue to find a suitable starter for the fall.

If the ACL-injury bug doesn’t bite Purdue this spring, they could be set up for a much better fall performance.