Thursday, October 29, 2009

Catching up: Decimation in the Big Ten

* Minnesota receiver Eric Decker, pretty much the lone bright spot in a dismal offensive year for the Gophers, is out for the season with a sprained foot. Minnesota has been downright awful when Decker has missed time each of the last two seasons, mostly because there's nobody else worth much of anything on that side of the ball. Adam Weber is a better QB than his numbers this year have indicated, but he just has no help, especially with Decker out of the picture. The future might be now for athletic freshman QB MarQueis Gray, who ran for 51 yards and a touchdown against Ohio State last week and might be able to provide at least some semblance of a running game for the team that used to churn out 1,000-yard backs with regularity.

* Iowa will be without running back Adam Robinson for the remainder of the year due to a high ankle sprain. Robinson had been splitting carries with freshman Brandon Wegher earlier in the year but had been getting a larger chunk of the carries each week, putting up 91 yards against Wisconsin and 109 against Michigan State. Wegher will now assume the starting duties, and after that ... well, hopefully Wegher produces. Spectacularly named walk-on Paki O'Meara is next on the depth chart (although anyone who's watched him knows he's not a viable option), and after that is 5-foot-8, 230-pound (!!!) freshman Brad Rogers. Yikes. It should also be mentioned that starting guard Dace Richardson will miss the rest of the year with a broken leg, although the offensive line is one area at which the Hawkeyes have the depth to survive that type of injury. Losing Robinson AND Richardson definitely hurts, but let's face it: Iowa's offense has been of little relevance all year and will probably remain that way as long as the defense continues to destroy quarterbacks. The margin for error, though, is slimmer than ever.

* I mentioned this briefly in my earlier post on Michigan-Penn State, but UM center David Molk is out for the year with a torn ACL. The offensive line will likely re-assume its arrangement from when Molk was out with a broken foot: Right guard David Moosman will slide to center, right tackle Mark Huyge will slide to guard and backup Perry Dorrestein will start at right tackle. Molk is good, but Michigan had been playing without him for the previous month anyway and shouldn't suffer a severe drop-off (at least not in the running game). Pass protection will continue to be a problem.

* Michigan also dismissed sophomore cornerback Boubacar Cissoko, a former top recruit whose play never justified the hype. He had been passed on the depth chart by unknown backup J.T. Floyd, and the coaches were so desperate to keep him off the field that they moved free safety Troy Woolfolk to corner (his original position), making walk-on freshman safety Jordan Kovacs a starter by default. Cissoko apparently was having academic problems and wasn't attending practice regularly, which is pretty much a sure-fire way to find yourself looking for a new school.

* Not to be outdone, Michigan State running backs Caulton Ray (the starter at the beginning of the year) and Andre Anderson have been "removed" from the roster. It's unclear exactly why they were dismissed, but the impact on the offense should be minimal: The two have combined for a total of 13 carries in the last six games as freshmen Larry Caper and Edwin Baker and sophomore/convicted felon Glenn Winston have taken over a majority of the rushing attack.

* Texas Tech will start redshirt freshman Seth Doege at quarterback Saturday, according to ESPN. Doege replaces junior Taylor Potts, whose time as starter is probably over; he was hurt during a sloppy win over New Mexico and was quickly surpassed on the depth chart by redshirt junior (and former walk-on) Steven Sheffield, who threw for roughly 8,000 yards and 46 touchdowns against Kansas State and then led the Raiders to an upset of Nebraska before injuring his foot late in the game. Potts didn't exactly seize the opportunity to regain the job last week, throwing two interceptions and fumbling once in a 22-point loss to Texas A&M. Doege will get his shot this week, but Sheffield will likely regain the starting role as soon as he's healthy (probably one more week).

* Losing apparently has no effect whatsoever on Lane Kiffin's cockiness. The Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier is reporting that when the coaches met at midfield Saturday for a handshake/verbal war after Alabama escaped with a 12-10 win over Tennessee by blocking a last-second field-goal attempt, Kiffin told Nick Saban, "We'll get you next year." He wasn't joking, and Saban wasn't amused ... and with that, Kiffin's quest to personally piss off every coach in the SEC is complete. At least Nick Saban doesn't hold a grudge or anything, right?

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