Big Ten Spring Game Things That Matter: April 14
– It’s going to be Dwayne Haskins. Yeah, yeah, yeah, everyone will say all of the right things about Joe Burrow having a shot at the starting quarterback gig, and the coaching staff doesn’t want him to transfer, but Haskins is the one to develop into the No. 1 guy. He only hit 4-of-11 passes with a score on the Scarlet side, but he hit 5-of-8 throws for 62 yards and a score for the Gray.
However, Burrow had the better day, connecting on a combined 15-of-22 throws for 238 yards and two touchdowns. But Haskins makes the bigger plays, and Tate Martell is too dangerous an option not to do more with.
– The running backs are going to be amazing. J.K. Dobbins only had one carry, but he doesn’t need any work. Mike Weber had just one run, too, taking it 63 yards. But Antonio Williams had a nice day with 47 yards and a score, and Master Teague ripped off 74 yards and a touchdown. There are a whole lot of options.
– There’s a whole lot of talent waiting to explode. For the Buckeyes, S Jahsen Wint stood out with a game-high 11 tackles. Defensive lineman Chase Young came up with a sack and two tackles, looking like another good part of the puzzle, and Demario McCall was terrific, making 11 catches for 165 yards and two scores, seeing time for both sides.
Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin
There was a threat of precipitation, so the three programs decided not to hold a spring game. It’s acceptable and right for all three to hang their heads in shame.
– Wait until the fall to figure out the quarterbacks. Kasim Hill and Terrell Pigrome are still resting their injured knees, so all the plays from the passers were likely for backup spots. Max Bortenschlager hit 5-of-9 throws for 70 yards, and while he’ll get a shot at time, at best he’s the No. 2 man. The starting job it Hill’s or Pigrome’s.
– Maryland couldn’t fake the Funk. Sorry … RB Jake Funk came up with two scores on jet sweeps, faking out a defense that was simply trying to be disciplined. It wasn’t exactly a fair couple of play calls, but this is what the Terps are trying to do more of this season in terms of keeping defenses guessing. They’re not going to play it close to the vest.
– And the starting quarterback will be … Tanner Morgan? JUCO transfer Vic Viramontes was expected to rise up and take over the job, but Morgan has been the stronger player throughout the spring. In the spring game, he hit 18-of-28 passes for 272 yards and two scores, and ran for 24 yards.
Viramontes? He ran for 21 yards, but he only completed 1-of-3 passes for a yard. Zack Annexstad hit 11-of-18 passes for 186 yards and a score for the Gold side, but going into the summer, it’s Morgan’s gig to lose. Now …
– Will there be any sort of a downfield passing game this year? Tyler Johnson caught six passes for 120 yards and two scores, and the passing game looked solid for both sides. The Gophers will still be about the ground game – Rodney Smith ran for 67 yards and a score, and Mohamed Ibrahim looks like the No. 2 man after running for 104 yards on 19 carries – but yeah, Minnesota might really throw the ball.
– Even though the assumption continues to be that Gio Rescigno will end up being the starter, and Johnathan Lewis is the big-time recruit of last year with a world of upside, Artur Sitkowski made a huge statement.
The true freshman came up with a big 75-yard touchdown pass that gave the Scarlet Knights a glimpse of a real, live passing game that’s been missing over the last few years. After playing it so close to the vest, it really might be possible to take a few shots down the field.
And yeah, Western Michigan transfer Tom Flacco is getting his chances, too …