roundtable

tBBC Guest Roundtable: B1G East Division

Welcome to the second part of our preseason examination of the new-look B1G, and we’re once again excited to bring you some special guests to chime in on their own teams and make some predictions that may need some tweaking by everybody. We want to thank all of our participants in advance for putting so much effort into helping make this one of the best collaborations of writers around! Good luck to all this upcoming season!

Let’s get started with the introductions; Be sure to follow them on twitter with the links on their names.

SPN_Header_Logo2Hondo S. Carpenter Sr. – Host of the popular Spartan Nation TV show, Carpenter also hosts the Spartan Nation Radio show nightly.  SNR airs on the radio into four states and is listened to every evening via the live streaming on the internet around the world.  He also serves as the editor and publisher of Spartan Nation Magazine and the publisher of the esteemed  SpartanNation.com Using a unique speaking style, Carpenter is able to mix his message of fatherhood, sports, patriotism, athletic success, faith and motivation in a way that will leave the listener experiencing every emotion from tears, laughter, and anger and pondering.

ts-logoJeremy Gold - Is a Maryland grad who has been living in Big Ten country (Chicago) for the last 10 years.  I started my Terps blog (turtle-soup.com) when I moved out here as a way to stay in touch with my Maryland roots. It seemed like a great idea. The basketball team had just won a national championship and the football team was two years removed from an Orange Bowl appearance.  Little did I know that we would descend into mediocrity over the last decade. If nothing else, at least I will get to watch my beloved Terps on TV now instead of being relegated to espn3 every week.

rutgersRyan Dunleavy - Has covered the Rutgers football team for the last four seasons for Gannett New Jersey newspapers, including the Asbury Park Press. He also was the football beat writer for Rutgers student-run newspaper, The Daily Targum, as an undergraduate student in the early 2000s, before Rutgers began making bowl games. He is a Heisman Trophy voter and FWAA member.

benblogBen Jones – Longtime writer and a regular participant in tBBC items over the years, he covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He’s on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.

GBMW-bannerGBM Wolverine - Three of GBM’s writers contributed to this article from the Michigan Wolverines’ news and opinions site on the Fansided Network. The GBMWolverine is dedicated to providing top-notch Wolverine news, views and original content. This site also serves as a community for ike minded fans to come together to catch up on the latest news and to discuss their passion.

test_logoAndy Graham –  Andy Graham started writing sports for the Bloomington Herald-Times in 1982 and, aside from a nine-year hiatus on the news side, has covered Indiana University athletics and Hoosier high school hoops Hysteria ever since. He is a member of the Indiana Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame and was recently named the nation’s top sports columnist for under-30,000 circulation papers by the Associated Press Sports Editors. He current duties include writing columns about IU football. He is (though married to a Reds fan) an unabashed St. Louis Cardinals partisan.

Who are the returning players that will need to step up for the team to have success?

Hondo – On the defensive side Darian Hicks takes over replacing Darqueze Dennard who moved on to the NFL.  He is a true sophomore, but was the back up last year.  Taking the jump from backup to starter is a big deal, but Hicks shows the physicality necessary to play the lock down role in the MSU D.On the offensive side Donovan Clark will step in to anchor the RT spot.  Clark is a massive human being with great physicality and has all of the skills after playing a lot of snaps last year as  the backup.

The Truth?

The Truth?

Jeremy – CJ Brown, Stefon Diggs, and Wes Brown.  CJ is a fifth year senior QB. He’s led us to bowl games and has had nice performances.  He has a nice arm but is also a threat to tuck it and run. He needs to avoid the bad INTs just like any QB but he has the tools to have an outstanding season for the Terps.  Stefon Diggs is a beast.  Not in terms of physical strength but in terms of raw athletic talent.  He’s the fastest guy on the field any time he sets foot on the ground.  You’ll love watching him play.  Maryland’s challenge is getting him the ball.  Every team game plans for him so it’s often hard to get it to him.  His season was cut short with an injury last year, but he is back to full strength.  Wes Brown was suspended from the team before last season after he was arrested.  The charges were eventually dropped and he has been reinstated to the team this year.  He will lead the team in rushing if healthy.

Ryan – Most teams go as their quarterback goes, but that’s even more true for Rutgers. Four-year starter Gary Nova has gotten off to great starts the past two seasons and so has Rutgers. Nova has finished poorly the past two seasons, including a three-game benching in 2013, and so has Rutgers. The offensive line returns five starters but Rutgers ranked No. 100 nationally in rushing offense and No. 102 in sacks allowed. That needs to improve. On the other side, a nine-player defensive line rotation, led by burgeoning star Darius Hamilton, and playmaking linebacker Steve Longa must pressure the quarterback to help out a vulnerable secondary. Hamilton is undersized but extremely athletic, which holds true for most of Rutgers’ defensive linemen.

Ben – Penn State’s receiving corps has gotten a lot of questions asked of them because of the loss of Allen Robinson. There isn’t much doubt that he is a kind of talent you don’t just replace, but simply being behind him on the roster isn’t a sign that those players be able to make an impact. That being said, guys like Matt Zanellato and Geno Lewis will need to continue to improve their game. On the defensive side of the ball guys like Nyeem Wartman and Brandon Bell won’t need to step up as much as continue to improve their game at a thin linebacker position.

GBM – On offense, the consensus for the above answer is quarterback Devin Gardner.  He is a fifth year senior, who had to wait his turn behind future legend Denard Robinson.  Devin was hurt and also played wide receiver during his wait.  Devin is a somewhat instinctive quarterback.  Highly talented and athletic as Devin is, he sometimes shows bad pocket presence, makes poor decisions, has had some trouble reading routes and defenses, and has been responsible for many critical turnovers.  As bad as the above sounds, Devin will compete and has taken Michigan down the field for several improbable late game victories.  He graduated from Michigan in three years and few students ever accomplish that feat. Devin has pretty good arm strength and his accuracy comes and goes.  Now and then he throws an interception that is simply a head-scratcher.  His legs are a true threat.

Devin Funchess, former tight end and current wide receiver, is clear Sunday talent.  At a true 6’ 5” and 230 pounds, he is fast enough and athletic enough to be a big concern to other teams.  Baring injuries, he is an all-conference and even all-American candidate.One running back needs to emerge as the leader to take the majority of snaps.  Several talented backs are on the roster.  Top-ten nationally ranked high school backs DeVeon Smith and Derrick Green head the list.  But local Ann Arbor product Drake Johnson is pushing the higher rated players.

The simple truth is that the entire offensive line needs to collectively step up and improve.  The belief here is that the offensive line will show some improvement as the season progresses.  Work must overcome frustration in this process.

Relyin' on Ryan

Relyin’ on Ryan

On defense, expect Jake Ryan to even be better than in the past.  Jake is now in the middle of a new defensive scheme and indications are currently very positive.  Blake Countess still is fighting surgeries and injuries.  But he is not far off playing at a high level.  Frank Clark is promising a big year, but we will see as opinion is held off since his message has yet to be accomplished over an extended amount of time.

Andy – The easy answer is every single guy among the nine returning defensive starters. Contemplate this statistic: When Indiana held opponents to 40 or fewer points last season, the Hoosiers went 5-0. If the IU defense can start merely aspiring to mediocrity — say moving from 120th nationally to 90th, or holding teams to 35 points or so – coach Kevin Wilson’s crew could well go bowling, because the offense should remain pretty potent.

Individually: Junior quarterback Nate Sudfeld. As good as he’s been, and that’s pretty doggone good, it’s fully his team now in the wake of Tre Roberson’s transfer. He needs to step up and really show that counts for something. I think he will. He’s got the sort of total package that bespeaks pro potential.

Senior wideout Nick Stoner. The high school state sprint champ has improved his route-running and receiving skills, but now needs to truly augment Shane Wynn out wide and help replace quality graduated players in Cody Latimer and Kofi Hughes.

Junior outside linebacker/defensive end Nick Mangieri, who seems suited for the hybrid spot he’ll fill in new defensive coordinator Brian Knorr’s 3-4 set, needs to help IU mount an actual pass rush.

Senior cornerback Tim Bennett. He led the nation in pass-breakups last fall (20), but was also burned too often. He needs to show more consistency and, in so doing, set that example for the rest of the secondary.

WVaBuckeye – One word, the defense, (oh and JT Barrett) must be better. Before there ever was even a hint of a Braxton Miller injury, we all knew the Silver Bullets had to return and put the Buckeyes back atop their perch as one of the nations best teams. Now, more than ever, led by potential all-Americans Joey Bosa and Michael Bennett, they will have to be a shut-down type of defense in order to let the offense grow under red-shirt frosh Barrett. The linebackers and secondary are young and untested to speak of, but the talent is there to be special under new direction from Larry Johnson and Chris Ash. I will surprised if the new look Buckeyes D doesn’t win some ball games this year.

Who are the newcomers that could have an immediate impact on this season?

Hondo – On defense Malik McDowell, Enoch Smith, Jr., David Beedle and Montez Sweat are all true freshman on the DL.  MSU didn’t need them, but the nation’s #1 DL recruiting class in 2014 has brought in a depth of talent and skill that hasn’t been seen at MSU since the 1963 class that produced 4 NFL first round picks.On offense there a two true freshman.  RB Madre London and OL Brian Allen are both young men that the Spartans don’t “Need” but simply may be too good to sit the bench and redshirt.  Allen is the brother of starting C Jack Allen and London is an all-world RB that could win the role behind Jeremy Langford as the Spartans look to limit his immense bundle of carries.

Jeremy – Damian Prince is the first 5-star lineman the Terps have recruited since…ever?  He should give CJ the protection he needs from the blind side so that our talented receiving corps can get open downfield.  Yes, our 5-star recruit starts immediately. We don’t have any other 5-stars on the roster so you better believe he’s starting.

Ryan - With No. 2 halfback Justin Goodwin being moved to cornerback, true freshmen halfbacks Josh Hicks and Robert Martin could get carries, especially if entrenched but injury-prone starting halfback Paul James misses any time. Hicks also could factor in as a returner.  Freshmen cornerbacks Kam Lott and Dre Boggs, who was a star of training camp until a recent injury sidelined him, also will be thrown into the fire early as Rutgers opens with Washington State and its four-wide receiver sets. Graduate transfer Andrew Turzilli (Kansas) offers Rutgers a deep threat at wide receiver.

Ben – With Adam Breneman out of the equation at tight end freshman Mike Gesicki will have a big chance to really show off his athletic ability early in his career. Gesicki has a chance to be a real special talent down the road and this could be a great look at his talent. On defense Jason Cabinda at linebacker has the skills and physical stature to make an impact off the bat. Daniel Pasquariello also has a real chance to make the biggest impact of all at the punting position.

GBM – Now believe it or not, true freshman Jabrill Peppers could indeed be a difference maker.  Every indication so far leads to the conclusion that he is the real deal.  He can play many defensive backfield positions and will probably return punts. Mason Cole, a true freshman offensive lineman from Tarpon Springs, Florida, is excellent in technique and execution.  He has a real chance at starting at left tackle.

Freddy Canteen is a 6’ 1” wide receiver from New Jersey that may end being described as quite a find; Freddy runs great routes and has the size and speed to hurt a defense.Bryan Mone, from Utah, may or may not make an impact as a freshman.  He is a mere 6’4” 315 pound interior defensive lineman who possesses speed and strength.  Mone will likely rotate with other young defensive linemen Willie Henry, Ondre Pipkins, and Maurice Hurst.  This will be Michigan’s biggest defensive interior in several years.

Andy – True freshman linebacker Tegray Scales from Cincinnati Colerain has already surfaced in a linebacking corps festooned with talented sophs and frosh. Combines speed and instincts with a wrestler’s toughness. He resembles guided missile out there. With a payload. Even at 6-0, 208, has shown he can play inside.

True freshman receiver J-Shun Harris is essentially Shane Wynn 2.0 as a slot man. Dynamic player. Has got jets. He’ll combine with senior Isaiah Roundtee to help facilitate Wynn’s move from the slot out wide

WVaBuckeye –  Again, simply one word, Raekwonza! (stole that from a fellow writer) Raekwon Mcmillan truly has to be what everybody and their brother and sister are expecting him to be. Most times when the high expectations are there, young kids struggle to meet them. Doesn’t appear to be so in the case of this young man. Who quite possibly could be the first true freshman to start at middle linebacker in how long? For now he is behind Curtis Grant, but I have a feeling he will be playing quite a bit. Time will tell how much of an impact he will have on this defense.

Will the offense or the defense lead the team and what is the reason?

B1G MVP?

B1G MVP?

Hondo – Offense. The defense was the best in the nation last year and I think they will be a top ten unit this year.This offense is loaded.LOADED. To say the offense will lead the Spartans in heresy in these parts, BUT that is not to imply the defense won’t get great.It is simply a testament to how good the offense is.

Jeremy – It will be the offense because it is way more talented.  The receiving corps is one of the best in the nation.  Both Stefon Diggs and Deon Long have the talent to play on Sundays.  As discussed above, our QB is a double threat and his experience should carry us though a tough situation or two. Wes Brown showed flashes as a freshman in 2012 and his year off the team should have given him all the motivation he needs to excel this year.  Finally, the O-Line is probably the best it’s been in years.

Tough in the open field, Kroft will make a splash in B1G

Krofty

Ryan -Even if it weren’t for the addition of first-year coordinator Ralph Friedgen, expectations would be high for Rutgers’ offense. Friedgen’s addition — plus his tinkering with the mechanics of the inconsistent  Nova — has only increased those to a higher level. Nova has at his disposal a wealth of playmakers, most notably (besides James) tight end Tyler Kroft and wide receiver Leonte Carroo, both of whom likely will be in the NFL in 2016. Kroft had a catch in every game last season and Carroo scored eight of his nine touchdowns in the fourth quarter or overtime. Plus, the secondary allowed a school-record 4,058 yards last season and already is hurting for depth during training camp

Ben - At this point it’s on the defense to lead things. That unit simply has fewer questions to answer although it isn’t without issues itself. Christian Hackenberg will do his part, but the offensive line and his targets down the field are questionable enough that the load is on the defense right now. Penn State could have a pretty solid defensive line to help out an experienced secondary.

GBM – Almost every knowledgeable Michigan football observer has concluded the defense will lead the team.  There is more experience and plenty of depth on defense.  Still, even saying this, it must be pointed out that Michigan is still young on defense, with Ryan and Frank Clark being the senior citizens.  The unit has been well coordinated by Defensive Coordinator Mattison.

Andy - Is this a trick question? I mean, really. This is Indiana. Kevin Wilson. Enough said.

WVaBuckeye –  Head and shoulders ahead of the defense still, the offense will excel even with a RS freshman QB who has yet to take a snap. The weapons that he has at his disposal have been getting some pretty good work-outs with the ones this pre-season at the tune of 300 plus plays. Let’s put that in perspective, Coach Meyer said that Kenny G had gotten six prior to the beginning of last season, six! Let’s just throw the speed of the starters just as a taste test; Jeff Heuerman, Nick Vannett, Ezekiel Elliott, Dontre Wilson, Devin Smith, Evan Spencer, as well as newcomers Curtis Samuel, Johnnie Dixon. “Mr. Distributor” shouldn’t have much trouble handing it off and throwing short passes at random to get better at threatening the deep ball. What better way to test those who think the Buckeyes won’t stretch vertical?

PREDICTIONS

Hondo –

  • MSU Offensive MVP – QB Connor Cook
  • MSU Defensive MVP – DE Shilique Calhoun
  • B1G Offensive MVP – Connor Cook
  • B1G Defensive MVP – Shilique Calhoun
  • West Division CHAMPION –  Iowa
  • East Division CHAMPION –  Michigan State
  • B1G Title Game Winner –  Michigan State

Jeremy -

  • Maryland Offensive MVP – Stefon Diggs.  He’s a first round pick if he just plays to his potential.
  • Maryland Defensive MVP –  The Terps have to be the only team in the NCAA with a guy named “Yannick” and another guy named “Yannik”.  Both are linebackers and both are poised to emerge this year but I am going to go with Will Likely as our likely
  • Defensive MVP.  A Florida de-commit and our best DB. Likely has the most talent on the defensive side of the ball.  His job will be to take on the opposing team’s best receiver and he’s up to the task.
  • B1G Offensive MVP – Connor Cook
  • B1G Defensive MVP –  Shilique Calhoun is my pick.  Mostly because I wanted to write a sentence with “Shilique” in it but also because he’s incredibly talented.
  • West Division CHAMPION –  These divisions are totally lopsided.  Wisky is overrated and the rest of the teams are pretty crappy too.  I’m going with Nebraska but I honestly think that Maryland would have a chance to win this division.
  • East Division CHAMPION – Michigan State
  • B1G Title Game Winner – Michigan State

Ryan –

  • Rutgers Offensive MVP –  Tyler Kroft
  • Rutgers Defensive MVP Steve Longa
  • B1G Offensive MVP –  Melvin Gordon
  • B1G Defensive MVP –  Randy Gregory
  • West Division CHAMPION –  Wisconsin
  • East Division CHAMPION –  Michigan State
  • B1G Title Game Winner – Michigan State
New Coach, Still Smiling

New Coach, Still Smiling

Ben – 

  • Penn State – Offensive MVP – Christian Hackenberg
  • Penn State – Defensive MVP – Jordan Lucas
  • B1G Offensive MVP –  Melvin Gordon
  • B1G Defensive MVP – Shilique Calhoun
  • West Division CHAMPION – Iowa
  • East Division CHAMPION –  Michigan State
  • B1G Title Game Winner – Michigan State

GBM –

  • Michigan Offensive MVP- Devin Gardner, or Michigan is in trouble.
  • Michigan Defensive MVP- Jake Ryan
  • B1G Offensive MVP – wide open, most likely candidates are the other known quarterbacks, Hackenberg, Cook, and possible Gardner and running back Ameer Abdullah.
  • B1G Defensive MVP – Jake Ryan, Michigan
  • B1G East Division Champion –  Ohio State
  • B1G West Division Champion- Wisconsin
  • B1G title game winner: Ohio State
Cleveland Strong

Cleveland Strong

Andy – 

  • Indiana Offensive MVP –  Cleveland’s own Shane Wynn, senior wideout. Does everything well. And he really is that fast. Talent and personality to burn. Sudfeld and junior tailback Tevin Coleman are also definite possibilities.
  • Indiana Defensive MVP –  I guess I’ll cite senior linebacker David Cooper, given that linebackers are set up to make most of the tackles in a 3-4 and he led the team with 85 stops last season, but this one really is a tough call. Nobody has really proven it as yet on that side of the ball.
  • B1G Offensive MVP –  After the Braxton bummer, I’ll go with Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin. He’s even more the feature back now and has four returning offensive linemen in front of him.
  • B1G Defensive MVP –  Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State. Not saying he’ll score three defensive TDs again. Not saying he won’t, either. Really like OSU’s Michael Bennett (and basically the Buckeyes’ entire defensive line), too.
  • B1G West Division Champion –  Aw, what the heck, upset special here: Iowa (just look at the Hawkeye schedule, capped by home games against primary rivals Wisconsin and Nebraska.) Hawkeyes do have to replace a lot of really good linebackers, though.
  • B1G East Division Champion –  Was probably going to be Ohio State, and I still think the Buckeyes are probably the most talented team overall, but now have to go with Michigan State. Sincerely hope J.T. Barrett does well in a tough spot and that Braxton Miller makes a full recovery and returns next season.
  • B1G title game winner –  Michigan State. Wasn’t always necessarily a big believer in Connor Cook, but he kind of convinced me (and everybody else) in the second half of the season and especially against OSU and Stanford. Jeremy Langford is a legit back. And I (and most other B1G followers) have developed an abiding respect for Dantonio’s defensive acumen and approach.

WVaBuckeye

  • OSU Offensive MVP – TE Jeff Heuerman became that guy when Braxton Miller went down for the season
  • OSU Defensive MVP – DE Joey Bosa is unstoppable, especially when teams are doubling down on Bennett
  • B1G Offensive MVP – Melvin Gordon
  • B1G Defensive MVP – DT Michael Bennett will be the highest draft choice out of the B1G next year and will be the best defensive player in the conference this year. Mark it down.
  • West Division CHAMPION –  Iowa
  • East Division CHAMPION –  Ohio State because I am a homer, but also like the feeling I get about this season. November 8 is the key!
  • B1G Title Game Winner – Ohio State and makes the Final Four with a RS freshman QB
WVaBuckeye

About WVaBuckeye

Married, father of three and grandfather to one. Have been a Buckeye fan my entire life and follow all sports Scarlet and Gray. Officiate high school football, basketball, and college women s basketball. Am an SAP Master data resource in my current role but have been a mechanic and planner/scheduler most of my career. I have been writing for tBBC since my birthday, December 15th, 2011

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