Right to the links, because I
think hope they'll get us through the countdown to fall camp.
I'm enjoying Tom Mulhern's preview series because his straightforward approach does a nice job of knocking the "what ifs" aside and just telling us how it is. Perhaps that sounds silly, but at this point in the offseason, I'm kind of weary from all the "Who will play quarterback?" and "Do we have defensive backs?" roundabout.
Plus, it's also really fun talking about these running backs, I don't have any qualms about calling Montee Ball, James White and Melvin Gordon 2012's best running back trio, and I'm going to say White and Gordon could be 2013's best duo. On White, who enjoyed a fantastic spring and is finally no longer the No. 2 guy:
White's approach was so focused in the spring, Hammock had a hard time finding things to criticize. Given what a stickler [running backs coach Thomas] Hammock is for the smallest details, that's saying something.
"I call him a pro," Hammock said. "He's a consistent pro, in my opinion. He shows up for work, he knows his assignments, he knows his job, he knows the details and he takes it seriously.
"I'm sure I've yelled at him once or twice, but I can't remember the last time I really got on him."
As Mulhern references, Hammock is a details guy -- if there was something to blast White about, he would've done it. This kind of approach really suites to fit White, one of the quieter guys on the team and also perhaps the most likely one to lead purely by example.
Gordon, meanwhile, expects to get the ball in his hands more out of the backfield and not just on sweeps around the edge. That's sure fine by me, especially if it reinforces this wonderfully enticing quote from White:
"I think we'll probably have the fastest backfield we've had at Wisconsin in quite a while," White said. "I think that will allow our offense to make a lot of explosive plays down the field in the run game and the pass game.
"We'll be able to do a lot of things, put me and Melvin in the backfield at the same time. You never know who's going to get the football."
Because we just can't be too happy, here is Jeff Potrykus' secondary preview. His first eight paragraphs say it all.
Bill O'Brien's job is about to get real interesting now. And likely, real hard. From Bill Connelly:
With a top-25 team (like the one O'Brien generated last year), Penn State could certainly go 10-2 in 2013, and bowls or no, that would be an incredible accomplishment, all things considered. But the quarterback situation could lead to some early landmines (Syracuse aside, neither UCF nor Kent State are easy outs, and the trip to Indiana could be sketchy for a team with no offense), and again, you just can't talk about Penn State without fearing what injuries could do. It only took a few injuries to gash USC (another team with scholarship restrictions) last year, and Penn State's situation is at least as bad as the Trojans' and getting worse.
Bud Elliott returns with his All-Big Ten Recruit Team, a fun offseason exercise that strives to put everything in conference-wide recruiting into perspective. Wisconsin loses one representative on the team, giving the Badgers just two for the month of July. As for the teams mentioned in the headline? This'll probably just make you yawn:
In 2012, Ohio State and Michigan combined to sign 31 of the Big Ten's 54 prospects rated four- or five-stars. In 2013, the number was 38 of 61. In 2014, the trend continues, with the pair currently holding commitments from 18 of the conference's 34 prospects to hold a rating of four- or five-stars.