Big Ten Notebook: Ohio State Battles Preceptions of the Spread Offense

Andrew CoppensContributor IOctober 15, 2013

COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 28:  Head Coach Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes watches his team warm up before a game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Ohio Stadium on September 28, 2013 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Ohio State has been killing it on the recruiting trail ever since Urban Meyer's arrival at the Columbus campus just short of two years ago now. Per 247Sports, the Buckeyes have pulled in two Top 5 classes (2012 and 2013) and are currently the No. 2 class in the 2014 rankings

However, that doesn't mean it has been all smooth sailing for Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes on the recruiting trail. 

One of the biggest issues has been finding running backs and fighting a misconception about the spread offense that Meyer and offensive coordinator Tom Herman like to run. 

When most think spread, they think of five wide receiver offenses and chucking the ball all over the place, yet for Meyer, his offense is all about the power run game. 

Naturally, opposing coaches will use any ammo they can get in recruiting at the highest level, and for Meyer, that means fighting against the point that he doesn't turn out 1,000-yard rushers in his offense.

It was a hot-button topic in his days at the University of Florida (as far back as 2009), and the wonderment has continued to this day. In fact, there has never been a 1,000-yard rusher on an Urban Meyer-coached teams. 

The reasons are many, but it all boils down to the fact that in the spread offense, there are so many different people involved in almost all aspects of the run game. The overall rushing numbers have always been good for Meyer-coached teams, but it's just that—a team effort. 

So while he may be battling perception, it appears Meyer and Co. are doing just fine on the recruiting trail. 


Minnesota will start Freshman Mitch Leidner at Quarterback

It appears the momentum has shifted to the favor of Mitch Leidner to lead the Minnesota Golden Gophers offense, as acting head coach Tracy Claeys confirmed Leidner as the starter for the second straight game and third game overall this season.

The numbers over the last three games, and more importantly in the back-to-back Big Ten losses Minnesota has suffered, suggest Leidner gives this team a bit more to work with on offense.

Leidner ran for 154 yards on 24 carries with four touchdowns against San Jose State in his first-ever collegiate start. He followed that up with 66 yards on 18 carries and went 14-of-21 passing for 145 yards with a touchdown and interception in the loss to Michigan.

Yes, the Michigan loss was brutal, but Leidner provided at least a glimmer of hope, and going up against Northwestern on the road this week will provide another test.

Philip Nelson clearly wasn't going anywhere positive for this team in his return from an injury in the Iowa game—rushing for a loss of 18 yards on nine carries and going just 12-of-24 for 135 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions through the air.

It's now on Leidner's shoulders to get this team two wins and bowl eligibility.  


Chris Borland for the Silver Football Award? 

Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen seems to field a question about star linebacker Chris Borland every week, but this week it came with a new twist: Did Gary Andersen think Borland was worthy of consideration for the Silver Football Award? 

This was Andersen's response: 

For those that don't know, or don't remember, that is the annual trophy given out by the Chicago Tribune for the best player in the Big Ten and is voted on by the coaches in the conference. 

To date, Borland has racked up 56 total tackles (third in the conference), averages 9.3 tackles a game and has put up back-to-back double digit tackles against the two toughest opponents on the Badgers schedule (16 against Ohio State and 10 against Northwestern).

The debate is interesting, especially considering Andersen has an offensive player named Melvin Gordon who is a likely front-runner for that and many other conference accolades this season. 

However, if Borland keeps on racking up double-digit tackles in conference games, he certainly would have to be in the conversation for the award.


*Andy Coppens is the Big Ten Lead Writer. You can follow him on Twitter: @ andycoppens.