Friday, July 29, 2011

FICKELL TALKS SUSPENDED PLAYERS; MICHIGAN QB READY FOR PRO-STYLE

DeVier Posey
TBT/Darla Dunkle-Hudnell
CHICAGO — Many people are pointing to Ohio State's Oct. 8 tilt at Nebraska as the first game to circle on this year's football calendar. Apologies to Miami, Fla. and Michigan State.

Not only will the battle with Nebraska be the first Big Ten game ever played at Lincoln, as well as being televised nationally in primetime, it will also be the first contest the Buckeyes' four suspended players — DeVier Posey, Dan Herron, Mike Adams and Solomon Thomas — will be eligible to participate.

As you noticed, the end of the previous statement said "eligible to participate," not "will participate."

Ohio State interim head coach Luke Fickell said that it isn't a given that said players will be jumping back into the spotlight come the second Saturday in October.

"We're going to take it game-by-game, day-by-day," Fickell said at the Big Ten Media Days in Chicago. "We don't want guys looking ahead saying, 'Well, wait until game six (at Nebraska) when we can get these guys back.' No!"

Fickell stated vehemently that the group will "earn" their way back onto the playing field.

"Are you just going to throw DeVier Posey in there because Philly Brown has done a great job?" Fickell said. "No, we're not. He's going to earn it ...

"We've got a plan. They're going to be asked to do a lot of things. It's a learning process for them. We want them to show the entire team their level of commitment. I have no worries about that one bit."

Ohio State all-American center Mike Brewster said the team knows exactly what they have to do.

"I feel like people think we're confused or feeling sorry for ourselves, but that's not it at all," Brewster said Thursday. "Everyone understands what we have to do. Everybody has a sense of urgency."

THAT SCHOOL UP NORTH ... When Michigan hired Brady Hoke as its head football coach this past January, one of the first changes he said he would make is switching the offense from the Rich Rodriguez 'zone-read' to a 'pro-style' attack, you know, the more traditional Michigan package.

The first question that popped into many people's minds was, "how will this affect quarterback Denard Robinson?"

As many remember when Rodriguez took over in 2008, he changed the offense from a pro-style to a spread zone-read. This change forced a young star quarterback in Ryan Mallett to exit Ann Arbor for the University of Arkansas.

Naturally, some began to think that Robinson — being an ultra-athletic signal caller with speed like Secretariat — would bolt as well, or at least be used in an ineffective way due to the change in offensive philosophy.

Hoke stated on Thursday that fans should have no worries about their Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback in the new offense.

"We are smart enough — which people usually don't say about me — to have elements he does well from what he did in the past in the spread offense ... " Hoke said of how they'll use Robinson. "He's done a tremendous job. I can tell you, he ran the same offense in high school, which is a plus."

Hoke said changing to a pro-style will make the defense, which was horrid under Rodriguez, much improved in 2011.

"There's two sides of the ball in the game of football," Hoke said. "I can tell you, and I'm a defensive coach, that when your defense plays against a pro-style offense all spring long, they play against a pro-style all fall camp, you build a toughness and an edge because the schemes themselves are different.

"This is a physical football league, physical offenses, people that run the football. We think we can play better defense by the fact of how we do things on the offensive side of the ball because they feed off each other."