Big Ten Notebook: Michigan Won't Rush Return of Jake Ryan
The news of Jake Ryan going down with an ACL tear this spring was like a shot to the heart for those around the Michigan program, given the fact that Ryan was not only a great player, but the heart and soul of the defense.
It was feared Ryan would be gone for the season, but those that knew Ryan also knew he would work his way back sooner, rather than later.
Most didn't believe Ryan when he told reporters he would play in the 2013 season and was shooting for an October return.
Yet, on Tuesday, during the weekly Big Ten coaches teleconference we got confirmation that Ryan was indeed going to be back for the Maize N' Blue this season.
Hoke on Jake Ryan: "I think there is a lot we need to see, have to see how he feels. Don't want to do too much too early."— Andy Coppens (@andycoppens) October 8, 2013
However, expecting Ryan back when Michigan takes on Penn State may be a bit much, despite rumors that he will indeed be on the field.
It sure sounds like Hoke is going to have to be convinced by Ryan and others to let him play, at least this week.
Sitting at 5-0 and getting their best defensive player back soon sure has to be appetizing to Wolverines fans.
But, that wasn't the only headline made during Tuesday's Big Ten coaches teleconference. So, let's dig into some of other interesting things to happen in the teleconference and around the conference on Tuesday.
Quarterbacks Moving to Safety Are All the Rage in the Big Ten
First it was Tanner McEvoy making a cameo appearance three weeks ago and playing more snaps against Ohio State than ever before at the safety spot, now comes the news that Rob Henry, the now-former Purdue quarterback is making the same transition.
According to Darrell Hazell it wasn't even his idea, but rather something that Henry was open to from the very beginning.
Hazell says Henry asked "where else can I help this team" when QB switch was made. Will play safety moving forward.— Andy Coppens (@andycoppens) October 8, 2013
I can't remember the last time a quarterback made the transition to safety—running back or wide receiver have been popular spots to switch QB's to, but not manning the backfield of the defense.
However, at Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen sees McEvoy's understanding of the offense as something that has helped him already and is likely to continue doing so going forward.
GA says McEvoy has carry-over from QB w/ knowledge of concepts and routes of WR's. #Badgers— Andy Coppens (@andycoppens) October 8, 2013
The two quarterbacks are in vastly different situations though as Henry will be ending his time in West Lafayette after this year and McEvoy will re-enter the quarterback race in Madison this offseason. It appears a small hand injury may have also nudged McEvoy into this position to help his team.
He isn't some novelty act either as he is listed on the Badgers two-deep for their game this week against Northwestern. Could we see the same from Henry? Only time will tell.
Kill Still Not Back With Team, but Players Haven't Lost Focus
Jerry Kill suffered his fifth seizure in his two-plus year tenure as head coach at Minnesota on Saturday and I mentioned that the continuity of his staff has really helped out in this unique and scary situation.
However, Kill hasn't bounced back as quickly this time and is resting comfortably at home during the Gophers bye week so far.
"He's doing good," said defensive coordinator Tracey Claeys. "He's continuing to get the rest he needs and work with the doctors to do the best they can to get the situation under control with his medicine. They still believe they can do that."
In his place as head coach on game day and now throughout this week has been Claeys, who answered what seemed like 99 questions about Kill's health to the one about his actual football team on Tuesday.
The biggest takeaway from it all was how little this whole situation has affected the players, at least according to Claeys.
Claeys says players don't ask a lot of questions about when Kill is coming back. Kill has said he's receiving lot of texts from players.— ESPN Big Ten (@ESPN_BigTen) October 8, 2013
Claeys also said he has spoken to coach Anderson a few times since Saturday, but football has never been the topic of conversation and that Kill will come back to the program when he and his doctors feel it is best to do so.
It also helped that on Tuesday the University of Minnesota president, Eric Kaler, made a public statement of support for Kill (h/t to ESPN.com):
Where we are right now is hoping for and planning on Jerry getting better and being able to fulfill all of his duties. We're not looking at a Plan B. We're looking at Jerry Kill being our head football coach. He's got a great, great staff. It's really just an unbelievable team, and when he's not able to be there because of a seizure, they have a terrific plan and they execute on that. So that's where we are.
Minnesota as a school, athletics department and coaching staff have had very little problem with this situation, so perhaps the media can also take the opportunity to lay off the "coach should retire" rhetoric?
Ferentz Has Issues With Culture of 7-on-7 Football & Returning Punts?
Seven-on-seven football isn't really a "thing," so to speak, here in the Midwest. It is all the spring and summer rage in other parts of the country, but with weather issues and things of that nature it hasn't become this massive part of the football culture in the Midwest—yet.
In Florida 7-on-7 football has become its own subculture, if you will.
However, Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz is not a fan of what is going on around the budding talent circuit these days.
In fact, as a parent he wouldn't want his kids involved in 7-on-7, and not because of the competition level, but because of some of the shady things around the sport in places like Florida and California.
Iowa's Kirk Ferentz says parents of HS kids should be worried about the route 7-on-7 football is going.— Andy Coppens (@andycoppens) October 8, 2013
As interesting as that all was from Ferentz, it was what happened with the local media that really got me intrigued as to what is going on in Iowa City.
Following the game on Saturday, apparently Ferentz made a reference to not ever returning another punt again—something most took as a joke.
It was in response to the fake punt Michigan State ran on the Hawkeyes, the sixth successful one an opposing team has run since 2010, mind you.
Well, on Tuesday he reiterated his comments from Saturday and apparently wasn't kidding at all (from the Des Moines Register's Andrew Louge):
I think if you pressed me today, I’d say we may never return a punt again. Just because when you do that, to block guys you have to turn and go with those guys to shadow them.
When you do that, you open the door. And Michigan State did a good job of taking advantage of that. We (may) just fair catch it and try to keep it off the ground. I was being dead serious.
and cue Twitter's overreaction in three, two and one....
In the most explosive age of innovation in the history of football, Kirk Ferentz chimes in by threating to never set up a punt return again.— LukeMeredith (@LukeMeredithAP) October 8, 2013
A couple weeks out of scoring twice off punt returns.RT @PatHarty: Ferentz said he's serious about never having his team return punts again.— nick hirth (@hirthn) October 8, 2013
So Ferentz is serious about never returning a punt again. Which, you know, contradicts any thought of him being competent as a head coach.— Ryan Probasco (@Ryan_Probasco) October 8, 2013
....yep, that just happened.
*Andy Coppens is the Big Ten Lead Writer. All quotes were obtained first-hand, unless otherwise noted. Follow Andy on Twitter: @andycoppens.
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