Spring Hits the Midwest and Things Accelerate

By Jason Priestas on April 19, 2010 at 7:00 am
What, me worry?
Michigan held their spring game Saturday and if there's one word on the lips of the Wolverine faithful afterwards, it's "Denard!":
Denard! Denard! Denard! Disclaimer: It was all ones versus twos and whatnot, so Denard took the starting offense against a motley collection of walk-ons and Tate took a bunch of freshmen up against the first team defense. The playing field was far from level. That said, holy crap. Robinson looks like a quarterback now. A running quarterback with rudimentary passing abilities, but a quarterback. There were zone reads and screens and rollout passes and a number of zippy seams that hit players between the numbers. When the offense broke down, Robinson made the concept of "pursuit angles" humorous.
Maize n Brew:
I'll admit to entering the day still somewhat skeptical of much of the spring hype surrounding Denard Robinson, and I left without a doubt that he is a legitimate contender for the starting QB spot if not the leader at this point in the spring.
Count me in as a skeptic before Saturday as well.  I thought Tate Forcier and his immeasurable moxie was a lock to be under center for the opener, but it now appears as if there's a genuine quarterback battle taking place in Ann Arbor, thanks to Robinson's sharp day, the highlight of which was a 97 yard touchdown completion to Roy Roundtree.  Though Forcier's injury last week does not appear to be serious, it was likely the window Robinson exploited to cement the top spot heading into the contest and with the better talent around him, he didn't disappoint. Rich Rodriguez, likely imagining Pat White with looser fitting shoes, smirked, but wouldn't comment on the quarterback race in his post scrimmage presser.  I just love that smirk. In other spring game action from the weekend:
  • Iowa showed some wildcat and the line was typical Hawkeye solid, despite some concerns with the interior play.  Also, unsurprising (and enviable): Iowa threw to five different tight ends on the afternoon.
  • With John Clay and Nick Toon sitting out, Wisconsin played it's spring game in front of just 23,567 fans, and most were likely disappointed with a performance players were calling "stagnant".  Scott Tolzien had a very meh afternoon, finishing 12/22 for 138 yards and no touchdowns.
  • Robert Marve's first spring game wasn't the show he promised fans it would be, but the quickness he showcased coming off ACL surgery was enough to excite the partisans in West Lafayette, despite the many other injuries on the team currently haunting the two deep.
  • Indiana.  Oh yes, Indiana.  In Bloomington, some plays were run in a forest and...  They did announce new unis, however.
  • Alabama packed in 91,312 on Saturday -- the 2nd most to attend the A-Day Game in the Saban era.  This is notable as the Tide were the previous record holders for attendance at a spring game, but unless they add another four thousand seats to Bryant-Denny and with Bryant-Denny undergoing a renovation this year, Bamoids will have no chance of topping the 95,722 Ohio State welcomed in 2009 Bamoids will have another chance to make a run at Ohio State's record of 95,722 very soon.
Too Tape-Delayed
The remaining six teams in the Big Ten will play their games this weekend.  The Ohio State game will be featured live on the Big Ten Network at 1pm, while Penn State, kicking off at 2pm, will be shown three hours later on the network (Illinois will be on at 11pm, while Sparty's spring game will air Sunday at 5pm). Make of that what you will, I suppose.

Big Ten Installing a Flux Capacitor

The Chicago Tribune, particularly Teddy Greenstein, continues to do an excellent job ferreting out nuggets related to Big Ten expansion and came strong on Saturday with a report that the conference will be getting on with this whole expansion thing a bit faster than initially reported:
High-ranking Big Ten representatives [met] Sunday afternoon in Washington D.C. to discuss expansion. The timing and location of the session make sense considering the Association of American Universities is holding its semi-annual meetings in D.C. from Sunday-Tuesday, and all 11 Big Ten schools are AAU members.
The article goes on to point out that Jim Delaney could take the next step (presumably some courtship) at the annual BCS meetings outside of Phoenix next week if the league can emerge from the meetings in DC with a mandate to expand. If that's the case, you can look for select conferences to get the phone call they were dreading sooner rather than later (as well as the accompanying leaks) as the Big Ten has stated it will reach out to conferences before approaching a member school. This is great news for us as we're about to enter a 90 day quiet period of sorts on the football front and we can now resume debate on whether it will be one, three or five teams added to the mix as well as the merits of each school on the short lists most often put out.  So, what say you?  How many teams do you think the Big Ten will ultimately add and who are your dream choices?