Notes from spring football teleconference, Day 1

The Big Ten is giving the media the opportunity to check in with the league’s football coaches and selected players today and tomorrow via teleconference. Today, the teams in the Legends Division (we’re just going to have to get used to that now) were represented. Tomorrow is the Leaders, which includes Indiana.

Some notes from today.

  • Michigan coach Brady Hoke said he’s happy with the progress he’s seen from a team that once again finds itself in transition. This Wolverine squad will use more downhill, power running than it did under spread offense aficionado Rich Rodriguez and it’s switching from a three-man front to a four-man front on defense, but Hoke thinks his players are picking things up quickly. “Our seniors have done a great job in their leadership,” Hoke said. “They’re being an example for the rest of the team.”
  • Defensive end Ryan Van Bergen said the Wolverines are happy with the changes so far and especially like the new defensive philosophy. He said he feels much more comfortable as a defensive end in a four-man front and that the team has very much bought into the philosophy’s of former Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Greg Mattison. “Greg Mattison just came at us with a very strong reputation,” Van Bergen said. “When you think of great defenses, the Baltimore Ravens are the first thing you think of. Everything the guy says is gold to everyone here.”
  • Kirk Ferentz’s turbulent offseason continues. Offensive lineman Dan Heiar, a transfer from Iowa Western Community College, was involved in a single-car accident this weekend. Ferentz said he expected Heiar to be hospitalized “for a while,” and said he had no other details to offer about the situations.
  • The Hawkeyes had two players arrested on drug charges this offseason and 12 players were admitted to the hospital earlier this offseason with a kidney condition after a taxing workout .Ferentz was asked if the tumultous offseason made it a relief to get back on the football field. Ferentz said it’s always nice to get back on the field, but avoided discussing any of the incidents.
  • Iowa linebacker Tyler Nielsen was asked about the impending rivalry with border state foe Nebraska, which joins the Big Ten this year. Nielsen said he’s already heard it being called “Farmageddon,” and said if the rivalry turns into a trophy game he hopes it has that theme.
  • Nebraska’s Bo Pelini was asked about preparing for a whole conference schedule of teams he’s never seen before. He said he hopes by summer to have watched tape of all of the team’s opponents for the year and have at least some idea of their tendencies.
  • Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said he’s pleased with both the offensive and defensive line play so far and to be returning a quarterback. He said he expects his team to be in the hunt but “to say we’ve embraced the favorite’s tag, I don’t put a lot of stock into that.
  • MSU quarterback Kirk Cousins was asked how Michigan State could follow a step forward with a step back as it has so often in the past. He said that since the team has arrived back from its Capital One Bowl defeat to Alabama, it’s been dedicated toward continuing to advance.
  • Minnesota coach Jerry Kill’s talking points were similar to Kevin Wilson’s, though not as brash. The first year coach said the coaching staff has worked on holding everyone on the team accountable. Those that don’t work hard are handed T-shirts that say “Gopher Loafer,” and have to wear those around as a sign of shame. Kill said he is happy with MarQueis Gray, who has moved from wide receiver back to quarterback.
  • Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said that quarterback Dan Persa is still not practicing after an Achilles tendon tear at the end of last season. He said Persa has been throwing on the side, and that he should be back by June 1 at the latest. He also referred to Persa as “a Hesiman Trophy candidate.”
  • Persa said he feels much better and that he’s improving from the injury quickly. He said a big reason for that was that he went into surgery three hours after suffering the injury. He said he expects to be ready for action by mid-May.


  1. Why get used to “Legends” and “Leaders”? Let’s just come up with appropriate substitutions. I offer “Sampson Division” instead of “Legends” and “Herbert Division” instead of “Leaders.” Just my first inclination.

  2. Did I miss Day 2 about the conference that has Indiana, Purdue…etc? Would like to read that coverage.

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