April 18, 2011

Linkbacker U Tries to Make Sense of Nonsense, Spring Games Edition

(Photo: PennLive.com)
Talk about a dud of a spring game. Well, for all the fumbles, interceptions, rain, mud and general slop, at least it wasn't a real game. Aaaanyway, today's Linkbacker hands you the post-game punditry from the Penn State football beat. Plus, I threw in at the end a few other links to spring games from around the Big Ten. Enjoy.

Dan Vecellio, OnwardState.com:
In maybe the most gruesome game of football Beaver Stadium has seen since “6-4“, the Blue team defeated the White Team in a rain-shortened Blue-White Game by a score of 10-0.
It gets worse after the jump.

Mike Still, The Daily Collegian:
Running full speed toward the south endzone, Mike Mauti dove flat out like Superman onto the soaked turf, raindrops pounding the saturated grass around him.

The linebacker slid almost five yards on his stomach across the Beaver Stadium field, alongside many of his Nittany Lion teammates doing the same.
Bob Flounders, PennLive.com
0: Those were the total number of days Penn State either practiced or scrimmaged outside this spring. Zero. Too much wet. Scrimmages were either called off or held inside Holuba Hall. Not the greatest environment for probing evaluation. How do you evaluate a quarterback's progress, or his arm strength, in a controlled climate? Do you think it will be 60 and dry when Penn State travels to Madison to face Wisconsin on Nov. 26? Doubtful.
Bill Kline, Allentown Morning Call:
Despite landing three four-star QBs over two years (2009-10), Penn State will have lost two of them and a third remains a project -- stuck behind a former walk-on.
Jake Kaplan, The Daily Collegian:
“I’ve been there. I understand where [Bolden’s] coming from,” Robinson said. “I don’t know man. I stayed and I felt like it worked out great for me. I don’t ever encourage anybody to leave where you originally decided to go. Because what does that say about you? You know what I mean? I don’t know, he has a tough decision, but I think he’ll make the right one.”
Kevin McGuire, Examiner.com:
"My problem with Newsome is paying attention to little things. He misses breakfast. Sometimes he's the last guy on the practice field. He's just on time. He's got a lot of ability. And he's gotten away with it in high school, I'm sure with the fact that he has natural ability. He's got to spend just a little bit more time on the finesse part of the game, anticipate a read, anticipate the break of a receiver, those kinds of things. When we can get him where he's thinking about that, I think he'll be pretty good."
Cory Giger, Altoona Mirror:
"Matt's always looked for competition," he said. "He was never one to shy away from competition. He was always, if the defensive backs says something to him, you know he's throwing at you the next play. That's just how he is. I think he loves the competition.
Rich Scarcella, Reading Eagle:
"It feels like I've found a home for myself," he said. "I feel like I'm home now. I've been working hard at it. I just feel I have something to prove. Since I got moved back over (to defense), now it's time to showcase my ability.
Bob Flounders, PennLive.com:
JoePa wasn't chewing on Ware's ear for each and every mistake. PSU defensive line coach Larry Johnson Sr. also made it clear to the player that his lifestyle had to change … soon. This wasn't a good cop (LJ)-bad cop (Paterno) scenario. The two coaches were on the same page.

"He was a bad cop too, a little bit,'' Ware said of LJ.

"He was on me about knowing when I had to stop messing around, stop making bad decisions … I'm still learning.
Rich Scarcella, Reading Eagle:
"Of course, we take it personally," defensive tackle Devon Still said. "We set standards for ourselves to match the people who came before us. We have to work on getting better for next season."
Bob Flounders, PennLive.com:
1. Penn State's linebacker corps will be very good.
2. Penn State's first-team offensive line appears to be set.
3. Junior quarterback Kevin Newsome is no longer a realistic option as starting QB.
4. An improved pass rush in 2011 (PSU registered just 17 sacks in 13 games) might hinge on the play of junior defensive end Sean Stanley.
Ron Musselman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
"But we're not -- nowadays when you see some of these guys playing in some of these outfits, college and pro -- we're not going that way, believe me."
So there you have it. Now for some other spring game notes from around the internets.

Big Ten East Division

Indiana - IndyStar:
The quarterback job at Indiana was open heading into the spring. It's still open coming out.

Sophomore Dusty Kiel appears to be the leader in the clubhouse heading into the summer workouts. In Saturday's Cream vs. Crimson spring football game, Kiel took the initial snaps with the first-team offense. He completed 14-of-27 passes for 196 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Purdue - YouTube (yes, YouTube): The Boiler's got themselves a kicker...

Purdue - BoiledSports.com:
I woke up this morning to 40 degree temps, rain and ugly skies...and it got worse as we headed out of the Indy era with stormy conditions dominating the horizon. But the radar looked promising around God's country, so my brother, nephew, son and I headed North. By the time we hit Lebanon, the rain had stopped, by the time we got to Tippecanoe County, the sun was breaking through and the ground was dry...and at kickoff for the game, it was probably the best spring game weather I can remember- I actually got a sunburn (on one side of my dome). Here's what I saw...

Big Ten West Division

Iowa - HawkCentral.com:
Ferentz has been extremely hesitant to give the offensive line a high passing grade during 15 spring practices. “It’s not like we’re eight deep at quarterback, but the way we protected this spring a couple times, we may need eight quarterbacks,” Ferentz said. “I’m not sure we could get through September the way we protected at times this spring.”

Northwestern - NUSports.com:
Fitzgerald, on the spring: "We wanted to get our attitude back. I believe we've done that. The guys are having fun, they're competing their butts off, it's been a real physical spring. And we've solidified some competitive depth. Coming out of spring, this will be the most depth that we've had. So that encouraging."

Nebraska - CornNation.com: Video recap of the game.

Illinois, Minnesota, Ohio State and Wisconsin will play their spring games on Saturday. Michigan State’s is on April 30.

Non-Conference Schedule

Indiana State - The Tribune Star:
The White team dominated the Blue team and won 44-14.

The odds were stacked for the White team against the Blue team. The White team consisted of starters from both the offense and defense, including many of their backups. The Blue was composed of second- and third-stringers. It was a decision that ISU coach Trent Miles wasn’t sure was the right one after the scrimmage ended.
Yes, Alabama actually did this.
Alabama - AL.com:
The announced estimated attendance was 92,310. The game was preceded by the unveiling of Nick Saban's statue along the Walk of Champions on the north end of the stadium.

AJ McCarron and Phillip Sims each worked with the first-team and second-team offenses.

The defense, particularly the secondary, had a solid day forcing several turnovers defusing what many had hoped would be more of a fireworks display on offense.
Temple - Owlified.net:
Today was Temple's annual Cherry & White football game. Even after just 40 minutes of play, I can assure you that I am absolutely excited for September to roll around... The offense was able to generate plenty of production on both the cherry and white squads. This year's scrimmage seemed a lot more intense then 2010; obviously the score indicates this.
Eastern Michigan - (EMU Game Story) Detroit News:
That's right, approximately 200 fans attended the spring game on a beautiful, sunny, 80 degree day. They watched junior quarterback Alex Gillett and the White team beat the Green team 14-7.
Just For Fun

Pitt - PittsburghLive.com:
Pitt concluded its spring drills Saturday in the annual Blue-Gold Game by filling the dark, rainy sky with 81 passes, running its fast-break offense without regard to the conditions and committing five turnovers.

The football was slippery, and the turf was slimy. But you won't hear any excuses from coach Todd Graham.
Happy Monday, everyone!

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