Every week (or so) on The Big Ten Blog, we will feature questions from the B/R inbox, Twitter and email. Do you have questions for next week's Q&A? Send them to Big Ten lead blogger Adam Jacobi via the B/R inbox, on Twitter @Adam_Jacobi or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hello again, friends. Thursdays are for Q&As, and just because the season's over doesn't mean there's nothing to talk about in the Big Ten. It'd be really sad otherwise. And the Big Ten is many things, but (fighting back tears) sad ain't one of 'em. You hear us?! Sad ain't one of 'em!
Sorry, we got carried away there. Onward!
Well, I'm glad you asked. Johnathan Hankins still looks like the best bet at defensive tackle. You just can't teach the combination of size and athleticism that he brings to the table (6'4", a svelte-ish 322 pounds), and he can play either the 1- or 3-technique at the next level, so there's no scheme that would exclude him.
If Hankins' stock falls for some reason (gets arrested, shows up to the combine at 380 pounds, gets his arm sawed off by a maniacally jealous Jim Tressel, whatever), don't be surprised to see Kawann Short of Purdue step in to that top role. Short has made the most of his Senior Bowl practices (like we told you would happen) and figures to be a late first-round pick at this point. If he keeps impressing in the offseason, he could rise even further.
Let's keep going.
@adam_jacobi what was the B1Ggest thing you saw this past season?— Conrad (@ConradLove96) January 24, 2013
I'm glad you asked. For those uninitiated in the ways of the Big Ten, every time something happened that perfectly encapsulated life in the Big Ten (punting from inside the 40, Michigan State's receivers dropping everything, Denard Robinson throwing against Notre Dame), I would denote it with a #B1G hashtag on Twitter. Do you follow me on Twitter? You should. It'll change your life forever .
But as for the most #B1G thing? That's tough. There are so many options. There's Purdue choking away the win at Ohio State. The Minnesota at UNLV pillow fight to open up the season. The waterlogged disaster pornography that was Iowa at Michigan State. The punts. My god, the punts.
Still, we have to pick one, and it's this. This whole play.
Let's break it down.
Denard Robinson—not the world's greatest passer—decides to test Dee Milliner deep. That is a hilariously bad idea. Milliner flat-out shoves Roy Roundtree out of bounds in the middle of the route ("Seems legit," says whatever official was watching that play and didn't throw a flag), still tracks down the pass, weaves through the Michigan offense en route to the end zone.
Ah, but Denard Robinson has another good idea, and he throws himself in the path of the full-speed 199-pound Milliner. That "tackling technique" is about all one needs to know about the notion that Robinson was ever going to be a cornerback. Milliner flattens Robinson, though he's pushed out of bounds in the process, and Robinson appears to hurt his throwing shoulder as a result. He stayed in the game, but that arm would later betray him again that year.
Oh, and Alabama scored the touchdown three plays later anyway.
@adam_jacobi why hasn't the SEC adopted the B1G style of football and worry about field position rather than scoring?— Brian Keck (@TheKeckster) January 24, 2013
I'm glad you asked, because if there's anything I like investigating, it's preconceived notions. That sentence sounds terribly sarcastic, but I promise it's not. Same with that one. Anyway.
The "why" of the question is hard to prove, but the underlying conceit of it all is one worth examining. Does the Big Ten value field position over scoring more than the SEC? Or, to make the question more workable, is there more punting (which is what "playing the field-position game" really means, if we're being honest) and less scoring in the Big Ten than the SEC?
Now, the Big Ten did indeed score slightly fewer points per game than the SEC (28.78 to 27.47, by our estimates). That's just going to happen when a quarter of your conference is Illinois, Michigan State and Iowa. And thus, punts per team were higher too—the SEC had 60.2 punts per team in 2012, and the Big Ten had 66.2. Basically 10 percent more.
But there's something interesting that we didn't expect to see. If field position and punting are more valuable to the Big Ten, then we would expect the Big Ten to have better net punting averages, right?
Instead, the SEC has eight teams that ranked higher than the highest Big Ten team in terms of net punting yardage. EIGHT TEAMS BETTER THAN THE BIG TEN'S BEST. The SEC is whipping the Big Ten in punting too! Ye gods.
One last question for today.
A pro wrestling question! You bet I'm glad you asked.
Here's the thing about wrasslin': The old guys are better at it. You might think that's completely counterintuitive, but if there's one enduring trope in pro wrestling—aside from the aggressive racism and heteronormativity, obviously—it's the old guy teaching the new punk a lesson in respect.
Here's exactly how it would go down, in fact.
Yes, you are supposed to imagine Delany and Meyer behaving exactly like that. Just...just go with it.
So to answer your perfectly valid and sane question, sir, I've got that Delany feller in a squash. He's a legend and a leader.
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