Big Ten Coaches Talk Anonymously About Conference Foes for 2013

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Opposing coaches dish on Nebraska and the rest of the Big Ten.

Big Ten Coaches Talk Anonymously About Conference Foes for 2013

It's not easy getting college football coaches to honestly comment on another coach, player or team. Most coaches don't want to give opposing teams billboard material, which is why there is a lot of coach speak or overused cliches used during the year. In order to get an accurate assessment of teams heading into 2013, Athlon asked coaches in the Big Ten to talk anonymously about their opponents.

Note: These scouting reports come directly from coaching staffs and do not necessarily reflect the views of Athlon's editorial staff.

Big Ten Coaches Anonymously Scout Their Conference Foes for 2013

Illinois
Opposing coaches size up the Fighting Illini: 

“I don’t think Ron Zook left the cupboard bare there. Tim Beckman had some players to work with. They just need some time to understand what it takes to win." …

"It’s obviously a big year for Tim. Look for them to try to establish a toughness all the way around, because they didn’t really have anything to hang their hat on offensively or defensively. They struggled in a lot of areas." …

"These kids are going through another offense. Football is still football, but they have four quarterbacks, and those guys have had to learn several different offenses over the last few years. There’s only so much you can install during the spring when you have a new offense like that." …

"They have some talent. To sit here and say (4-star quarterback recruit Aaron) Bailey can come in and start, there’s no book written on that. There are so many variables." …

"At the running back position, they are focused on being a more downhill, north-south running team — get yourself a 4-yard gain, don’t worry so much about an 8-yard gain.”
 

Indiana
Opposing coaches size up the Hoosiers:

“Although they showed flashes, they didn’t have the running game to help the quarterback all the time. The head coach (Kevin Wilson) is an offensive line guy and tough guy. I think they started to show that they were like their coaches. That’s probably a compliment to Kevin." 

"I know they threw the ball fairly well at times and tried to make the run game as simple as they could because of the young offensive linemen." …

"They played well against Ohio State and hung with those guys through four quarters. Then they lost to Navy the next week. That shows they have a long way to go to be consistent. It’s hard to play Division I football with young, inexperienced players." …

"Defensively up front they tried to be more firm, more attacking, get linemen to hold the point of attack. They got a few junior college linebackers with some guys that played last year." …

On special teams, they had a good kicker and good punter. And those guys got down and tackled you. You could at least see the effort on the film.”
 

Iowa
Opposing coaches size up the Hawkeyes:

“My take on them, they surprised me in that they were pretty physical defensively. I thought those guys did a nice job against us defensively. They were good tacklers." …

"Offensively, they are similar to Wisconsin and Michigan State — run the football and play-action pass. They don’t have a tremendous amount of scheme throwing the football. But they are big and well-coached up front. They need a big back who can pound it up in there. They aren’t going to do zone reads and option at quarterback. That’s kind of who they are. When those quarterbacks play well, these sort of teams play well." …

"Iowa is always consistent running the ball. When they can throw it, which isn’t every year, it’s hard to defend them. Over the last five years or so, they’ve had some off-field issues that might have hurt them in recruiting." …

"They still played hard. They are not an easy game. You never go in saying, ‘Thank goodness we’ve got Iowa.’ They are a good team. They can beat you.”
 

Michigan
Opposing coaches size up the Wolverines: 

“They are a physical group. I don’t know that they are as athletic as Ohio State is, but they are close." …

"They have a great package defensively. Their third down package — (defensive coordinator) Greg Mattison gives the illusion of pressure every time. You never know when they are really coming or not coming. It’s the different stuff that he does." …

"Their offensive line is very good, much like Ohio State and Wisconsin. Very physical up front, great defensive scheme. For two years, they were confusing us a little bit." …

"They have good skill players at the wide receiver positions — guys that can get downfield in a hurry." …

"They became a more balanced offense with Devin Gardner, but I don’t know if they have the same threat that they had with Denard (Robinson). Gardner runs well, but he wasn’t as big of a threat. They threw the ball well with him. So maybe he’ll provide more stability." 

"You can tell this is a Brady Hoke team by the way they play up front offensively. They’ll move a pile.”
 

Michigan State
Opposing coaches size up the Spartans:

“Defensively, they are one of the most physical teams. (Coordinator) Pat Narduzzi does a good job with them. They are physical and big." 

"Those two corners were really good. Those guys can cover. They’ll get Darqueze Dennard back, and he will be one of the best corners in the league, but they lost the other guy (Johnny Adams) and will need a young player to step up there. They’ve had a good run of safeties. They are a good team defensively, just really well coached and they play hard." …

"Offensively, as the nation saw, they struggled at times. They are kind of a Wisconsin offense. They want to run the football. They were probably not as good as Wisconsin up front, so that played into the struggles a bit." …

"They have good tight ends usually." …

"There were some games where (quarterback) Andrew Maxwell would make some mistakes and it really hurt them. They struggled because of it. When he was on, he was pretty good because Le’Veon Bell could run it. But they will really miss Bell. He was so consistent for them.”
 

Minnesota

Opposing coaches size up the Golden Gophers: 

“They are an athletic team — quick and fast, especially on defense. I thought they had a good secondary and a good pass rush, with at least two guys who were pretty good up front." …

"I think they will be a good football team this year, I really do. Jerry Kill does a good job with them. They are recruiting well, maybe not getting the 5-star guys, but getting the right kind of kids up there that can fit the system. They play hard. Kill is well-respected in the league. He does a really good job." …

"I think talent can be a problem there. But they’ve done a nice job of identifying those guys and getting the right pieces — a good mixture of tough-minded kids with some skill players sprinkled in from Texas and Florida. They’ve had some success with those kinds of players." …

"These guys can rush the passer and cover and do some good things." …

"They’ve got to find a way to move the ball more consistently, but that should come with another year in the system. They aren’t going to top the league, but they have a chance.”
 

Nebraska
Opposing coaches size up the Cornhuskers:

“Bo Pelini likes a rough-and-tough style of football. He’s always been himself, a very gritty football player and a damn gritty coach." …

"I forgot all about Taylor Martinez being a senior. He’s been around forever." …

"They are run first and run second, and will think about running third. The play-action pass is the big hit for them. You have to stop the run and be aware of the play-action pass. Martinez has made some big plays in the passing game." …

"They had those difficult losses, but they came back and had a nice road win against Northwestern and at Michigan State. They beat Michigan at home. Smoked Michigan, actually. The losses to Ohio State and Wisconsin, both were hard-fought games." …

"Nebraska is Nebraska — with people wearing those stupid hats. It will be fun and exciting. It’s a gritty football team." …

"They got smoked in a few of those games trying to stop the run. Like any good defense, it starts with the guys up front. And they have a lot of young guys there." …

"A lot of jobs will be up for grabs on that defense.”
 

Northwestern
Opposing coaches size up the Wildcats:

“They have some good receivers. They know what they want to do on offense. Their line functions well together. The combination of (Kain) Colter and (Trevor) Siemian at quarterback is unique. They are both good. And I like how they use them. It makes you prepare for both guys, which is hard to do. It’s two different gameplans. I know they have used them both in the game at the same time. Colter can be a weapon as a slot receiver who can make some plays."  …

"I don’t know if you can underestimate how good and how fast Venric Marc is. He was great last year." …

"I don’t think there’s any area that sticks out that makes you say, ‘Wow!’ one way or the other, good or bad, but they are becoming better athletically with their recruiting. They were always well-coached but didn’t always have the talent. They know how to get the best out of their talent." …

"They do a great job up front. They are very smart guys that pick things up well. … They don’t have an imposing offensive line, but they play to the scheme well.”
 

Ohio State
Opposing coaches size up the Buckeyes:

“Just a really athletic team, another well-coached team on both sides of the ball. Keeping Luke Fickell in there as the defensive coordinator was a good move. This helped them in Year 1 under Urban Meyer." …

"They’ve gotten more athletic and faster than from a few years ago. Just a really good team across the board." …

"They grew into a powerful offense. There was a learning curve for those guys, but Braxton Miller has developed into one of the best players in the country. He did everything for them. His decision-making has really improved." …

"I thought the secondary was okay. They pretty much played the chains on third down. They sat on some routes. That’s where you could get some things off them offensively. You probably could go after them a little bit more with the deep ball because of the way they played. I’m not sure if they’ll tweak that this year, but they gave up some yards by playing that way. But overall, they were a very sound defensive football team.”
 

Penn State
Opposing coaches size up the Nittany Lions:

“Penn State, to me, was the surprise team. Not so much because of the record, but they just played really hard. Defensively, I thought they were as good as anybody we played." …

"They were very physical, and bigger than I thought they would be. Obviously their strength was their front seven. They were a team where when we played them, they did a lot of things defensively. You could see a lot of NFL schemes that were in there. Maybe that’s because of (Bill) O’Brien, an NFL guy." …

"They were running a new offense, but that quarterback did a great job running it. They got a lot out of what guys they had. Their tailback (Zach Zwinak) wasn’t all-conference talent, but they got everything out of him. He was big, and he ran so hard." …

"The loss of scholarships will wear on them down the road. It’s not the (quality) of the guys that they are signing, but it’s the wear and tear, lack of depth — five scholarships here, five there. Next thing you know, you’re missing 15 guys. Injuries, things like that happen.”
 

Purdue
Opposing coaches size up the Boilermakers:

“I look at Darrell Hazell and that staff — they’ve hired some damn good coaches. They have two really good coordinators in Greg Hudson on defense and John Shoop on offense. I respect both of those guys." …

"I don’t think this team is that far away. The games that were close, they just didn’t make that many plays. They played lousy against Minnesota. They went to Minnesota like they didn’t care. That might be the reason why Danny Hope got fired. But give the kids credit, after a disappointing loss, they responded with some victories." …

"They aren’t really scary in any area. They had a really good defensive line returning but didn’t play as well as they could have. A few of those players are gone. They probably underachieved there. That kind of explains the season they had." …

"I don’t know who their quarterback will be. That can solve a lot of problems if they can get the right guy there. Running back Akeem Hunt is a player and should help the young guy, whoever it is.”
 

Wisconsin

Opposing coaches size up the Badgers:

“It will be interesting to see what happens with the new staff. I haven’t heard much. I’ve heard maybe a 3-4 defense. I know Gary (Andersen) did some spread zone-read option stuff at Utah State, which is definitely different than what (Wisconsin) has been." …

"Their linebackers are still great. Chris Borland is one of most underrated players in the country. He runs around. He’s fast. He’s smart. He’s instinctual. He’s got everything you want. I think they lose some depth there, but they’ll still be good." …

"I thought defensive end David Gilbert really came on. He’s a guy they’ll miss." …

"They’ve always been good up front." …

"The quarterback (Joel Stave) is very solid, doesn’t make a lot of mistakes, not any more than anybody else. I don’t know if they have a great passing attack with play-action. If you can slow down the running game, force them to throw, they can struggle. Regardless of which offense they run, they’ll need the quarterback to make timely throws in key third down situations.”

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