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Big Ten Coaches Talk Anonymously About Conference Foes for 2016

Michigan Wolverines

Michigan Wolverines

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.

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In order to get an accurate assessment of teams heading into 2016, Athlon asked coaches in the Big Ten to talk anonymously about their opponents.

Related: Big Ten Predictions for 2016

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 League Foes

East Division


“Kevin Wilson is as good of an offensive mind as I’ve ever coached against. He’s so good at spatial awareness and figuring out the weak points of a defense. The fact he’s got a top-20 offense at Indiana and finds a way to compete with the top teams in the league says a lot.”

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“The biggest thing is losing Nate Sudfeld. He’s going to be a really, really difficult player to replace because he’s an intelligent, competitive, accurate dude and managed that offense really well.”

“They also downgrade at running back because Devine Redding is no Jordan Howard or Tevin Coleman. Howard was going to get them yards and fall forward no matter what. Redding is a good back; he’s just not built the same way. He can catch the ball out of the backfield and do some things, but I think there’s going to be a drop-off.”

“I’m not sure what they’re going to do at quarterback, but you need someone with accuracy and touch to run that offense and I don’t think they have anyone in Sudfeld’s league.”

“[Dan] Feeney is as good an offensive lineman as there is in the country, but losing their center is going to hurt.”

“Mitchell Paige is 5-foot-nothing, but he’s a hell of a slot guy and competitive SOB who you’ve really got to watch out for in the punt return game.”

“I like their defensive coordinator hire [Tom Allen]; he’s really well regarded. He’s a little different personality-wise from Wilson, who is super intense. Allen is a guy who goes to church and doesn’t swear, so they may balance each other out.”

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“Talent wise, they’re toward the bottom of the league.”

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“The new staff there is going to get that ship right. They’re a young, aggressive staff that is going to recruit and do a really good job there. I don’t think it will take long, but they have a ways to go, and the division is so tough because you’re drawing four bad hands a year out of the gates.”

“They had some ability at the skill positions. Walt Bell is a good coach, and they’ll be headed in the right direction offensively, but there’s a pretty big gap athletically with the rest of the league.”

“I think [D.J.] Durkin wants to be no-huddle, run-the-QB type of offense. I don’t know if that’s what he really believes in stylistically, but it helps in recruiting and it gives you a chance to even the game against teams that are better; basically everybody in the division is better than Maryland right now and will have better players for the next few years.”

“After [Randy] Edsall got fired, they totally changed what they did on defense. You can watch it happen on film. They went from being a team that closed the middle of the field to bringing eight guys in the box and saying, ‘Screw you, go ahead and throw it against us.’ They just weren’t going to let you run it.”

“Will Likely is a good enough corner, but those guys had no chance unless they could stop the run.”

“Offensively, it’s going to be rough at first because they don’t have a quarterback. Losing Dwayne Haskins when Ohio State flipped him was a big blow because he would have started right away at quarterback.”


“Jim Harbaugh is going to get it rolling and the whole Urban (Meyer)-Harbaugh thing is going to be a blast. It’s going to be good for college football. I have no doubt they’ll be successful.”

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“They were a good team last year, but what they really did well is they played really hard and had a lot of pride. There’s a little (bit) of coach speak in that, but when you watched them on the field, how they lined up and communicated and the intensity they had on the sideline, it was really impressive.”

“You look at the difference between 2014 and 2015 offensively, and it’s night and day. They are physical and mean and just want to pound the crap out of you, and Harbaugh gets a lot of productivity out of his quarterbacks. They got a bit worn down at the end of last year, but I think they’ll take another step offensively.”

“They were pretty bland from a defensive standpoint. They’ll be very different schematically than with [D.J.] Durkin, but Don Brown is really good at what he does. Brown does a bunch of different things, but they wouldn’t let you throw posts last year in a league where people have thrown posts for 25 or 30 years, and I don’t think that will change.”

“Keeping Greg Mattison is going to really help them because their defensive line was obviously well-coached. Tempo doesn’t really affect them much as you’d think.”

“The one cornerback, Jourdan Lewis, that dude is a really, really good player and he’s savvy. He gets interceptions by making intelligent plays.”