By Michael Cohen
FOX Sports activities Faculty Soccer Author
Landslide blowouts of Iowa and Minnesota by Ohio State and Penn State, respectively, meant the 5 Large Ten matchups on final week’s school soccer calendar had been determined by a median of 19.3 factors per sport.
However the lopsided on-field product in Week 8 nonetheless produced a treasure trove of attention-grabbing storylines that stretched past the Midwest and into the nationwide purview:
- Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz confronted pointed questions on nepotism following one other offensive stinker authored by his son, Brian Ferentz, who serves because the workforce’s offensive coordinator.
- Ohio State standout Jaxon Smith-Njigba returned from a hamstring damage solely to depart within the first half after he appeared to tweak one thing in his decrease physique.
- Rutgers snapped a 21-game residence shedding streak in Large Ten play.
- Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford silenced his critics by throwing for 295 yards and 4 touchdowns towards the Golden Gophers.
In different phrases, there’s by no means a uninteresting week within the Large Ten no matter whether or not the video games are thrillers. Listed here are some storylines to look at as one other weekend approaches:
Tit for tat
Context: Final week, mobile phone cameras captured a halftime shouting match between gamers from Michigan and Penn State within the tunnel at Michigan Stadium. The movies unfold shortly on social media as dialogue in regards to the confrontation spilled into the following few days. When requested in regards to the kerfuffle, Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin instructed a coverage be enacted to forestall two groups from coming into the tunnel on the similar time.
On Monday, Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh was requested about Franklin’s feedback.
Quote: “I actually bought greater fish to fry than Coach Franklin’s opinion on the halftime tunnel from a sport in the past,” Harbaugh stated in his Monday information convention. “All they gotta do is stroll into their locker room. I believe you noticed fairly clearly that they fully stopped. They weren’t letting us rise up the tunnel. And it simply appeared like such a sophomoric ploy to attempt to hold us out of our locker room, and he appeared like he was the ringleader of the entire thing. However no, I’ve bought greater fish to fry than to fret about that form of whining.”
Evaluation: Over time, upgrades and renovations at Michigan Stadium have added new luxurious suites, up to date the scoreboards and overhauled the press field as a constructing that opened in 1927 confirmed its age. Spared from these modernizations was the tunnel utilized by each the Wolverines and their opponents to entry the sector.
It stays a form of rugged, gritty, unrefined relic to Michigan soccer’s custom. But it surely’s additionally the one tunnel connecting the locker rooms to the sector, and the small house will get cramped when each groups pile in at halftime. Final week’s bottleneck spawned a shouting match that turned bodily when somebody on the Penn State facet hurled a peanut butter and jelly sandwich into the Michigan crowd, in line with a tweet from Michigan director of soccer diet Abigail O’Connor.
“The one tunnel is an issue,” Franklin stated in his weekly information convention just a few days after the sport. “And to me, we have to put a coverage in place from a convention perspective that’s going to cease these (points). We’re not the primary workforce to form of get right into a jawing match within the tunnel. For me, I need to deal with getting my workforce within the locker room — not jawing forwards and backwards. I need my workforce to get within the locker room and their workforce to get within the locker room.
“There actually ought to be a coverage that the primary workforce that goes in, there’s a buffer. As a result of if not, this workforce begins speaking, they usually begin jawing forwards and backwards, and what’s going to occur is one thing dangerous goes to occur earlier than we put within the coverage. And all there’s gotta be is a two-minute or minute buffer in between the 2 groups. This workforce is in earlier than that workforce will get shut, and nonetheless we need to do. However we’re not the primary workforce that’s had points like that. And to me, underneath the present construction, we received’t be the final.”
A number of days earlier than the dustup, Harbaugh vocalized his adoration for the tunnel and stated he’s glad it’s remained unchanged over time. Michigan devoted the tunnel to former head coach Lloyd Carr on the identical day because the scuffle with Penn State. It’s now referred to as the Lloyd Carr Tunnel at Michigan Stadium.
Pulling the plug
Context: Earlier this month, Rutgers entered its bye week ranked outdoors the highest 120 in each scoring offense (19.7 factors per sport) and complete offense (311.2 yards per sport) by means of its first six video games. The efficiency was poor sufficient for head coach Greg Schiano to fireside offensive coordinator Sean Gleeson, who had been within the function since 2020, and provides tight ends coach Nunzio Campanile the interim title. With two weeks of follow to regulate, the Scarlet Knights knocked off Indiana of their first sport with out Gleeson and earned their first Large Ten win of the season.
Quote: “Look, I believed we ready very arduous over the 2 weeks,” Schiano stated in his Monday information convention. “Actually you possibly can’t flip issues the wrong way up in two weeks’ time. So I believe what we’ll do is proceed to develop. The quarterback place, you understand, it’s not like we found one thing. We lastly had our quarterbacks all in a position to play on the identical day.”
Evaluation: No workforce within the Large Ten has been extra unsettled at quarterback this season than Rutgers. A heated coaching camp battle between sophomore Evan Simon, graduate scholar Noah Vedral and sophomore Gavin Wimsatt spilled into the common season. Every participant has made a minimum of one begin, and no person has began greater than three video games. The trio has mixed for six passing touchdowns and eight interceptions, although six of these INTs belong to Simon.
Rutgers’ Noah Vedral connects with Sean Ryan
Scarlet Knights QB Noah Vedral hit Sean Ryan for an unbelievable 15-yard TD within the nook towards the Indiana Hoosiers on Saturday.
Schiano and his teaching employees leaned on Vedral the final three weeks to bridge the bye and run the offense following the change at coordinator. The 24-year-old QB started his collegiate profession at Central Florida in 2017. He spent two years at Nebraska (2018-19) earlier than lastly touchdown at Rutgers in 2020 and retaining the beginning job many of the final two seasons.
Vedral was neither spectacular nor overly environment friendly in Saturday’s 24-17 win over Indiana, finishing 12 of 24 passes for simply 113 yards and a landing. However he navigated 4 quarters with out turning the ball over and helped Rutgers convert seven instances on third and fourth down mixed.
“We didn’t know precisely the way it was going to go,” Schiano stated. “I imply, for that sport, Noah was the starter, Gavin was the backup and Evan was the following man in. Every sport goes to be completely different relying on our preparation, our opponent, our matchup. And till we work out precisely how we need to go — and you may say, ‘Effectively, you’re in your eighth sport.’ Yeah. As I informed you originally of the 12 months, if (the quarterback scenario) works itself out, that’s nice. And if it doesn’t, we now have to maintain tweaking it till we determine it out. So we’re engaged on it.”
Context: Minnesota traveled to Penn State final weekend believing it had among the best defenses in school soccer. The Gophers ranked sixth within the nation by surrendering simply 263.7 yards per sport and ranked fourth in scoring protection (11.7 factors per sport), fifth in passing protection (159.2 yards per sport) and twentieth in speeding protection (104.5 yards per sport). Then the Nittany Lions shredded them for 479 yards and 45 factors throughout a prime-time, nationally televised beatdown by which Clifford was by no means sacked and barely bothered.
Quote: “It’s not excellent,” Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck stated Monday when requested about his workforce’s cross rush. “I can get into it a bit bit extra. We’re simply not getting residence with 4 (rushers). We’ve bought guys to have the ability to step up and do higher at it (with) approach, fundamentals. Once we do (these issues), we did get some stress on (Clifford). He was in a position to step up within the pocket and make a giant throw right here or there. I do know we even bought some inside stress, which was good. However we’ve gotta be higher in that division. We all know that. Whether or not that’s personnel, whether or not that’s bringing extra individuals, whether or not that’s our fundamentals — all of it has to enhance.”
Evaluation: Regardless of how extremely ranked defensive coordinator Joe Rossi’s unit was in a number of necessary classes earlier than the sport towards Penn State, there have been evident weaknesses within the workforce’s pass-rushing statistics that had but to burn the Gophers.
By seven video games, Minnesota ranks final within the Large Ten and tied for 118th nationally in sacks, with 9 — a far cry from the 24 sacks amassed by league-leaders Michigan. The one Gopher with double-digit quarterback pressures this season is edge rusher Jah Joyner, whose modest complete of 11 is outdoors the highest 200 gamers within the nation and tied for fortieth within the convention, in line with Professional Soccer Focus. Six of his 11 pressures got here in non-conference video games towards Western Illinois (three) and Colorado (three).
The Gophers’ diminutive stress numbers are compounded by Minnesota’s incapability to complete performs with sacks on the uncommon events they harass opposing quarterbacks. Edge rusher Danny Striggow is the one participant with a number of sacks this season (three), however solely one in all them got here towards a Large Ten opponent. As a workforce, the Gophers have didn’t tally a sack in every of their final two video games.
The defensive numbers will proceed to slide till Rossi generates a extra constant cross rush.
Michael Cohen covers school soccer and basketball for FOX Sports activities with an emphasis on the Large Ten. Comply with him on Twitter at @Michael_Cohen13.
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Publish date: 2022-10-25 17:05:00
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