Sports department for the student run radio station 90.3 WRST at UW-Oshkosh
Happy Tuesday, College Football fans! For this week’s edition of the WRST Sports College Football blog, we’ll travel around the Big Ten to look at the big news and highlights of spring practice as it winds down for another year. So, without further ado, let’s get to it!
The Hawkeyes don’t hold a spring game anymore, but rather a series of spring practices that are open for fans to attend. Last Sunday, for the first time Iowa held an open practice at Valley High School in West Des Moines, trying to reach out to their fan base in central and western Iowa (and contend with Iowa State’s spring practices just up the road in Ames). Over 8,000 fans attended the event and braved some bad weather to watch the Hawks. Major questions abound for Iowa this year across the board after struggling to a 4-8 finish. Who will be under center and will they fit into Greg Davis’ offense? What about the depth on defensive line? Iowa concludes spring practice a week from this Saturday with their scrimmage/practice at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa
City. Here’s a photo gallery (courtesy Des Moines Register) of the West Des Moines practice.
Michigan held their Spring Game on April 13th at the Big House in Ann Arbor. According to Wolverines QB Devin Gardner, the offense prepared for the game was “very vanilla, very basic” so fans didn’t get to witness much there. Michigan’s D-line performed well against an O-line with questions at both guards and at Center. Linebacker James Ross III looked very good, tallying eight tackles (two for loss). Head Coach Brady Hoke said afterwards that RB Fitzgerald Toussaint is on track to return for the season opener, which is good news for the offense.
Watch highlights of the Michigan Spring Game from BTN here
Michigan State Spartans
The Spartans hold their spring game this weekend (Saturday, April 20th). Look for an update next week with highlights from the Green vs. White contest
Minnesota Golden Gophers
The Gophers will hold their spring game on Saturday, April 27th. Much like the Spartans, check back in a couple weeks for an update and highlights from TCF Bank (if it ever stops snowing in the cities…)
We briefly covered the Huskers spring contest last week, when we talked about the heart-warming moment of seven year old Jack Hoffman’s touchdown. Jack suffers from pediatric brain cancer and had the opportunity to suit up for the game in Lincoln and rushed for a 69 yard touchdown.
As for the game itself, Nebraska’s offense came alive, having six scoring drives and notching 421 yards. (Bad omen for the Blackshirts?). Taylor Martinez feels like the offense will be throwing more this season, with strong targets in Kenny Bell and Jamal Turner on the team. Here are some highlight clips courtesy of BTN.
Personally, I think the big question out of Northwestern is: Can they keep this up? The Wildcats won ten games last season for the first time since 1995, when they won the Big Ten and went to the Rose Bowl. Not to mention, they won a bowl game, too! The cats didn’t hold a traditional spring game this year due to players out because of surgery this offseason. Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald said 13 players had some sort of surgery following last year, and the team had only eight healthy Offensive Linemen for spring practice. Here are highlights of the game, once again courtesy of BTN.
Illinois Fighting Illini
Well, there’s certainly nowhere to go but up for the Illini who had a disastrous first season under Tim Beckman. The team struggled on all sides of the ball last season (especially on offense), and is undergoing a youth movement this season, with 40 players on their spring roster taking part in their first spring game this year. QB Nathan Scheelhasse tossed for 210 yards and a TD in the Orange and Blue game which was held under the lights last Friday in Champaign.
The Illini threw 87 times for 601 yards in the game, which had to give a tiny bit of hope for better football for Illini fans. Scheelhasse and Riley O’Toole are the two returning QB’s and are both trying to impress and win the job here in spring ball.
Here’s some highlights from the Orange and Blue game from BTN.
The Hoosiers held their spring game last Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington. Overall, I think the team is making definite strides under Kevin Wilson, winning FOUR GAMES last year (and, thanks to Ohio State being ineligible for the division title, they were “in contention” to play in the Big Ten Championship Game late into the season. Could you imagine…?).
Coach Wilson admitted his game plan for the spring game was very “vanilla” (The Cream team won 21-7) and the game was primarily held to get extra work in and try to settle some position battles. The most intrigue from the Cream & Crimson game comes from a three-way QB battle between Cameron Coffman, Nate Sudfeld and Tre Roberson. Indiana still has a lot of work to do on defense as well, which has been a glaring weakness for the team the last few seasons.
Here are the highlights from the Cream & Crimson game.
Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio State held their annual spring game in Cincinnati at Paul Brown Stadium (Home of the Bengals) as the bucks look to go undefeated for the second consecutive year, but make it count this time. After being ineligible for the post season last year, Ohio State wants to win the national title and went before a crowd of 37,000 fans to show off their stuff this year. The Scarlet team won 31-14 over the gray with Braxton Miller tossing for 217 yards and 2 TD’s. Miller also notched a running score as well.
Highlights from the game can be found here.
Penn State Nittany Lions
Penn State’s spring game will be held this Saturday (April 20th). Check back next week for a report from Happy Valley.
Purdue held their first spring game in West Lafayette under new coach Darrell Hazell last Saturday. It was a fairly low-scoring affair, with the black team beating the gold 14-0. Recaps of the game say it was a fairly sloppy offensive performance, with five combined turnovers between the two squads. The star of the game from the offensive side of the ball can be given to RB Akeem Hunt who tallied 134 yards and a score on 19 carries.
Highlights from Ross-Ade can be found here.
The Badgers’ spring game will be held this Saturday, April 20th. Check back next week for a recap from Bucky’s first game under Gary Andersen at Camp Randall. In the meantime, watch the dance-off competition from last week’s practice. (Can you teach me how to Bucky?)
Phew. That was a long post! There’s a lot more we could cover this week, but we’ll end it here for today. Thanks for reading and have a great week!
Spencer Wagen, WRST-FM Station Manager and Sports Broadcaster.