My Big Ten Monday chat moved to Friday this week, so if you didn't note the change, I don't blame you for missing it. Here's the full transcript, along with some highlights, to catch you up:
Bernard (Columbus): What specifically could Urban have done differently than Brian Kelly, given his specific talent set and offensive system, to attack to Bama defense and do you think it would've proven successful?
Brian Bennett: For one, I don't think Ohio State would have completely abandoned the run, as Notre Dame did. The Buckeyes' offensive line would have give them a better chance to move the ball on the ground with Hyde and Miller. But given the deficiencies of the Ohio State passing game, I'm not sure the outcome of such a matchup would have been a whole lot different, frankly.
Nathan (Washington, DC): What's the biggest question mark for Northwestern in 2013? What's most likely to stand between the 'Cats and a trip to Indy?
Brian Bennett: I'll give you two question marks: One, the pass defense. Even though it played great against Mississippi State, the Northwestern secondary still struggled in many big games in the Big Ten. And two, the development of the passing game on offense. It needs to become more consistent, especially when Kain Colter is in. The most likley thing to stand in the way of Indy, however, is the schedule. It gets tougher in 2013.
Fred The Hammer Williamson (Sarnia Ontario): Brian... love to blog, keep up the great work. A lot of talk about the performance of the MSU defense this year. In terms of yards allowed, they were terrific. I don't think enough was made of their lack of big plays on defense this year which may have swung a couple of those games their way this year. I don't have the stats, but I don't think they ranked very high in sacks and creating turnovers, at least versus 2011. I think if this improves (and the offense of course), things could be much better next year even without Big Will. Your thoughts?
Brian Bennett: You're right about that. The defense had trouble closing out games, which is hard to pin on them since the offense put them in bad situations. But the Spartans ranked just 73rd nationally in turnovers created and only 93rd in sacks, which is odd for a defense that was so good in other areas. MSU needed those kinds of big plays this year. Still, the defense gave the team a chance to win every week, and it's hard to ask for a whole lot more.
Bryan (Columbus): Thoughts on the Ohio State defense next season?
Brian Bennett: Young but talented. The back end should be solid with Roby, Barnett and Bryant returning. We know all about Shazier. The other two LB spots will need shoring up, and Ohio State is replacing all four DL starters. But with guys like Washington, Spence, Bennett, etc, there's a lot of talent for Luke Fickell to work with. Think it might be a defense that improves greatly over the course of the season.
Jay (Boston): If Jerry Kill is successful, how long do you see him staying in the Twin Cities? I understand there are multiple factors that could affect it (other possible employers fearing his health or age, spats with the MN athletic director/president, etc.), but I'm curious how many B1G schools could be a coach's 'destination job.'
Brian Bennett: Kill will be 52 in August, so he's young enough where he could still have another job or two in his future. You'd worry about either the Kansas or Kansas State job opening up since he's from there. But I think Minnesota would take the trade-off if he built the Gophers up enough to where he became in demand.
Tim (Columbus, Oh): Everyone is talking about the B1G can do to be as good as the SEC. While that's great, what about baby steps. What does the B1G have to do to become the 2nd best conference? Once that's reached, maybe then we can start looking at dethroning the SEC to be considered the best conference.
Brian Bennett: A big thing is depth, both in number of teams in contention and roster depth. But the biggest thing I see is more skill players. Where are the elite QBs and WRs in the Big Ten? They're all over the place in the Big 12 and the Pac-12, and the game has gone that way in recent years.