The first week of the college football season features a few nationally televised games involving Big Ten programs. The one garnering the most attention is the Michigan-Alabama contest at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, while the Michigan State-Boise State match-up is also drawing plenty of interest among many college football fans.
In addition, three Big Ten schools will be debuting a new head coach this week: Illinois (Tim Beckman), Penn State (Bill O’Brien), and Ohio State (Urban Meyer).
Here are a few interesting tidbits from Tuesday’s coaches’ teleconference:
Brady Hoke didn't give any clues regarding his starting RB
Hoke Uncertain About Toussaint Week One
Michigan head coach Brady Hoke still is unsure of whether or not running back Fitz Toussaint will play against Alabama.
“We have not made any decision on what we’re going to do. That decision will come before game time, but right now he’s been practicing and getting reps,” said Hoke.
He then discussed how he would replace Toussaint if he does indeed decide to bench him.
“Vince Smith has played a lot of football for us. Thomas Rawls played some ball for us a year ago and Justice Hayes. All three of those guys are capable and available.”
Toussaint recently pleaded guilty to operating a motor vehicle while visibly impaired. He was originally charged with driving while intoxicated.
Michigan State Aware of Boise State’s History
Head coach Mark D’Antonio has stressed to his team the track record of Boise State versus top-25 programs in recent seasons.
“We constantly talk about Boise from A-Z. We’ve hit every different aspect of them as a program and who they are. We got to be ready to play and perform,” said D'Antonio.
“I knew the reputation of Boise State and coach [Chris] Peterson. I thought it would be good for our program to test us early to jump in with both feet. Boise is going to play anybody anywhere and Michigan State is not going to back away from a challenge either. I have watched these guys since February and I have a tremendous amount of respect for how they play.”
O’Brien Counting on Linebackers
Penn State is known for its linebackers, and head coach Bill O’Brien will be relying on them against a dangerous and underrated Ohio offense.
“We have a good returning linebacking corps with [Gerald] Hodges, [Michael] Mauti and Glenn Carson in the middle,” said O'Brien. “I think if these guys are really sound and they communicate well then that’s their main job against an offense like Ohio.
“They have to communicate because Ohio wants to play really fast and our guys have to get our defense lined up. These are veteran linebackers who have played a lot of football for Penn State and I’m looking forward to watching them play.”
The Urban Meyer era begins at OSU this weekend
Ohio State Secondary Will be Tested Against Miami (OH)
Head coach Urban Meyer will be relying on a strong pass rush anchored by John Simon and Jonathan Hankins to disrupt a potent Miami (OH) passing attack and to make life easier for the Buckeye secondary.
“I think our secondary has some experience and they’ve played pretty good a year ago, but I can’t say they played great,” said Meyer. “I think the scheme Miami uses is going to put us into situations where we better make sure we cover.
“They do a really good job throwing the ball. They do a lot of unusual formations that put you in a tough situation so that’s a concern of mine. Pass coverage is directly tied with pass rush, I think we’ll be able to force some errant throws and get after the quarterback a little bit.”
Impossible to Replace A.J. Jenkins’ Production
New Illinois head coach Tim Beckman didn’t coach wide receiver A.J. Jenkins, but he knows just how difficult it will be to replace him in the Illini offense.
“Well I wasn’t here with A.J. but of course I got to see a lot of film on him. Boy, what a great player,” said Beckman.
“I think when you talk about Darius Millines, Ryan Lankford and Spencer Harris, those are the three names we’ve really pushed to try to take over the role. I don’t think you ever can replace an A.J. Jenkins with what he was doing for this program. Our offense is built around getting our players the ball. We want to get them doing what they do best, catching the ball in the open field and making players miss.”
- Josh Harvey -
Kyle Phillippi covers the Big Ten Conference for BigRedReport.com. His work has also been featured in Big Red Report Magazine and FoxSports.com.
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