1. What are you looking for in Saturday’s spring game?
A better performance from the defense. Most of the buzz coming out of the open practice at West Des Moines was generated by the offense, especially freshman receiver Derrick Willies. I expect to see a motivated secondary. Remember, Kinnick Stadium gates open at 1 p.m., with the game beginning at 2 p.m.
2. Which Big Ten newcomer will win more games, Maryland or Rutgers?
I’ll pick Maryland. The Terrapins have nine returning starters on offense and nine on defense after finishing 7-6 last season. The Scarlet Knights went 6-7, but I’m a little more dubious about their ability to transition to the Big Ten. I have more faith in Maryland coach Randy Edsall, who made the Connecticut program relevant in the 2000s.
3. Is there a particular game you’re looking forward to?
Anticipation is always highest for the opener. Yes, it’s Northern Iowa and the Hawkeyes should win. But on Aug. 30, our long national nightmare is over, and the games begin. I usually feel like Iowa vs. Iowa State is over-hyped. And the buildup for Iowa-Nebraska depends on what kind of season the teams are having. I’m kind of intrigued by a Sept. 20 visit to Pittsburgh.
4. Care to make a prediction for the upcoming season, East and West division winners?
Hard to bet against Ohio State in the East. The West, however, is wide open. There’s a lot to like about Iowa, but every time the Hawkeyes are cast as favorites, they take a pratfall. I have my doubts about Wisconsin’s offense, but Melvin Gordon is a bona fide Heisman Trophy candidate. I could see Nebraska’s Bo Pelini being the Big Ten’s coach of the year. I also could see him getting fired. For now, I’ll go with Wisconsin losing to Ohio State in the championship game.
5. What constitutes a good summer for Iowa?
No injuries. No off-field issues. And no empty seats. The Hawkeyes didn’t have a sellout last fall, due mostly to a dip in student attendance. There’s no reason not to show up this season.
THE WORD FROM HAWKEYE NATION
Last week’s reader question: If you were coaching the Hawkeye special teams, who would you use as a kick returner? Jordan Canzeri? Damond Powell? Kevonte Martin-Manley? Here’s what Gerald of Garner, Ia., said: “Damond Powell IF he is sure-handed; otherwise stay with Manley.”
Editor’s note: This is the final edition of the weekly Hawkeye spring football notebook.
BIG TEN BUZZ
Senior center Chad Lindsay is transferring from Alabama to Ohio State. He could start for the Buckeyes this fall and finish his college career having played for both Nick Saban and Urban Meyer. … Quarterback Joel Stave was held out of Wisconsin’s final three spring practices because of a sore shoulder, but will not need surgery. Coach Gary Andersen expects Stave to be ready for summer workouts in June. … Tom Dienhart of the Big Ten Network visited Maryland’s spring practices and it appears the running back job is up for grabs. Brandon Ross, Albert Reid, Jacquille Veii and Joe Riddle are all competing for carries. …Tommy Armstrong Jr. seems to have tightened his grip on Nebraska’s starting quarterback job. He threw eight interceptions last season and committed two costly fumbles against Michigan State. “It’s pretty much out there for me,” Armstrong told reporters. “They’re depending on me.” … Speaking of the Spartans, starting receiver Macgarrett Kings Jr., has been suspended for an undisclosed violation of team rules. … The renovation of Michigan’s Schembechler Hall is complete, at a cost of $9 million. According to the Detroit Free Press, must-see features include “the Win Wall,” which has a football with the score and date from all of the Wolverines’ 910 victories. … Jeff Jones, Minnesota’s most touted freshman, could make a quick impact for the Gophers. The four-star running back from Minneapolis also drew interest from Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa and Iowa State.