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September 06, 2001 - Image 34

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2001-09-06

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6C - The Michigan Daily - KICKOFF 2001 - Thursday, September 6, 2001

Thursday, September 6, 2001-- KICKOFF 2001 - The Michigan Daily -.11C





When Penn State coach Joe
Paterno stepped up to the
microphone at the Big Ten
media gathering in Chicago last
month, he did something a little dif-
Instead of saying anything about
his team, Paterno told the assembled
media members, "I don't have any
statement about my team, so I'll just
take any questions you might have."
Although the
icon was-
n't trying
to sound
p e s -
his state-
ment spoke
about the
state of
affairs at
Penn State - if you can't think of
anything nice to say, don't say any-
thing at all.
Last year's edition of the Nittany
Lions was nothing if not forgettable.
Led by Rashard Casey, Penn State
staggered to a 5-7 record.
This year's Nittany Lions don't
look much better. JoePa needs just
two mole wins to pass Bear Bryant

as the all-time winningest coach in
Division I football, but that might
not happen until November, if at all.
Penn State's first seven games are
as follows: Miami (Fla.), at Virginia,
Wisconsin, at Iowa, Michigan, at
Northwestern, Ohio State.
With such a
bleak outlook for
2001, Penn State
will have to rely
on a few stars
like tailback
E r i c
a n d
s i v e
J i m my
Still, quar-
terback Matt
Senneca 's
analysis of his nightmarish experi-
ence last year could very easily dou-
ble as a description of what lies
ahead for the Nittany Lions.
"You know you're not supposed to
be losing like you're losing,"
Senneca said, "but you are, and you
don't know how to fix it."
-Arun Gopal

e blind squirrel found its acorn
last season when bad defense
and worse special teams didn't
deter Purdue from taking a break from
its usual holiday destination - the
Alamo Bowl - and going to the Rose
Bowl, where they eventually lost to
Unfortunately for coach Joe
Tiller's Boilermakers, quar-
terback Drew Brees
graduated. .
Brand on
Hance is
expected to
pick up where
Brees left off.
While the
Boilermakers have the
talent to repeat last sea-
son's 8-4 record, they
shouldn't forget the
Alamo, as a return to San
Antonio is certainly not
out of the question.
Like Michigan, the
Boilermakers return a lot of
starters from a defense that was at
best poor, and lose the majority of an
offense that was more dangerous than

While Hance is only a freshman,
he'll run the spread offense, an offense
that when run properly,

n't get much attention around the Big
Ten last year because of Anthony
Thomas, Michigan State's T.J. Duckett
and Northwestern's Damien
But, Lowe is one of the con-
y ference's most underrated
backs - both as a rusher and
as a receiver.
On the other side of the
ball, the Boilermakers
return 10 starters including
Big Ten freshman of the
year, Stuart Schweigert,
who led the team in tackles
as a safety.
Also returning is defen-
sive end Akin Ayodele,
who is a candidate for
Big Ten defensive
player of the year.
While impres-
sive, it's never a
good sign when a
safety leads the
team in tackles, as
this is a sign that
the defense is giv-
ing up a lot of big

Raphael Goodstein



Ulrich s has you covered.
Come in and see our huge supply of top
brand name clothes and gifts!

or the first time in a decade,
Michigan's game with Iowa will
not be a gimmie. Quietly, coach
Kirk Ferentz - Hayden Fry's replace-
ment, who, believe it or not, is entering
his third season as coach - has turned
this program into one that will likely
contend for a berth in a bowl game.
The Hawkeyes beat Penn State and
Big Ten co-champion Northwestern in
the final month of the season to give
them momentum heading iito this year.
Senior Kyle McCann and sophomore
Jon Beutjer will rotate at quarterback
this year, but don't be surprised to see
Beutjer playing fulltime by season's
end, as Ferentz knows the sophomore is
his future.
Senior running back Ladell Betts
needs a strong year if the Hawkeyes are
to win more games than they lose; he
has run for the third highest rushing
total in school history - an impressive
feat considering the three offensive

lines he's rushed behind.
Betts should see
more holes to
run through .:
this year, as
end Aaron
says that the .
line is.
the offen-
sive line is
the most
physical they've been since I've been
here," the all-conference candidate
Don't be surprised if Iowa is 4-0
entering its Oct. 6 game with Purdue, as
not one of its first four opponents were
bowl eligible last year.
- Raphael Goodstein

By Jeff Philips
Daily Sports Editor
Defining a Heisman trophy candidate
has become the subject of much debate in
recent years. The emergence of the role
of the Internet combined with strong pro-
motional campaigns has given coverage
to lesser-known contenders, whether they
are deserving of the award or not.
The Heisman trophy is given out to the
best player in college football in that year.
But lately with four-year players like
Texas' Ricky Williams and Wisconsin's
Ron Dayne, the award has become more
of a lifetime achievement award - given
to the best career, even if they weren't the
best player in that particular year.
This may bode well for players like
Illinois' Kurt Kittner, who has been solid
in his career thus far, but hurts a player
like Northwestern's Damien Anderson,
whose breakout year last season could
have brought home the hardware.
All things considered, there are four
contenders for the Heisman this year in
the Big Ten: Indiana's Antwaan Randle
El, Michigan State's T.J. Duckett;
Anderson and Kittner.
Damien Anderson (Northwestern,
Sr. RB): After his breakout season last
year, big things are expected from
Anderson in head coach Randy Walker's
spread offense. Anderson's numbers
from last season - 2,063 yards rushing,
23 touchdowns - were phenomenal.
Anderson finished fifth in the voting, and
had he played on a top-10 team, he may
have won it. Northwestern was projected
to finish last in the Big Ten and never
really got the respect that Anderson need-
ed to win.
While the cards seem to be in favor of
Anderson, he will have to overcome a few
obstacles before he takes the podium.
First, it has yet to be seen how the
death of teammate Rashidi Wheeler will
affect the team and Anderson's perfor-
mance. How they react will be a key
component in the how long the Wildcats
remain in the Big Ten race and how long
Anderson lasts in the Hleisman race.
Second, Anderson will need voters to
get past believing that the spread offense
is just a gimmick offense.
"(Critics) say, 'oh they are just a gim-
mick offense, they will be stopped next
year," Anderson said. "It hurts. It is a slap
in the face."
Many teams across the nation are even
taking a page out of Walker's playbook
What it takes
The past four offensive Heisman
winners have put up outstanding
numbers. Do the four Big Ten candi-
dates this year have what it takes
to win it? Here is a breakdown the
- winners' final seasons.
Chris Weinke Florida State, QB, Sr.
In leading Florida State to the BCS he
passed for 4,167 yards and 33 TDs.
Ron Dayne Wisconsin, RB, Sr.
Dayne rushed for 1,834 yards and broke
RickyWilliams career rushing record.
Ricky Williams Texas, RB, Sr.
Broke the NCAA rushing record and
rushed for 2,124 yards and 27 TDs.
Danny Wuerffel Florida, QB, Sr.
Wuerffel threw for 3,625 yards and 39
TDs and led Florida to the National title.

starter and the Hoosiers' best Big Ten fin-
ish in those years was a tie for seventh in
This spring, Indiana decided to move
Randle El out to wide receiver in order to
bolster one of the Hoosiers' weakest posi-
tions. But Indiana might not be able to
afford keep its best athlete from touching
the ball as much as possible.
"There may be some games where I
only play quarterback," Randle El said.
NFL scouts criticize Randle El's size at
just 5-11, but thaf doesn't bother him. He
believes that his time will come.
"I know that I'm not the tallest guy, but
I've never been the tallest guy and I still
find a way to make plays," Randle El
said. "The mobile quarterback is coming
- whether you are short or tall." -
Indiana is making a strong push for
Randle El, giving him the necessary hype
to win. He image is pasted throughout the
media guide, where he is listed as a
"Heisman trophy frontrunner."
Calling him a frontrunner is a stretch,
but he should be a the top of the list if the
wide receiver experiment works and if
Indiana puts up some wins.

Photos courtesy Indiana, Illinois, Michigan State and Wisconsin Athletic Departments
Antwaan Randle El, Kurt Kittner, Damien Anderson and Ti Duckett are four of the
Big Ten's best football players and best hopes to win the Heisman.

and instituting the spread offense after
the success of the Wildcats' last season.
Third, Big Ten coaches dedicated a fair
amount of time this offseason to stopping
the spread offense. How successful the
defensive changes will be remains to be
seen, but it is safe to say that
Northwestern won't catch as many teams
by surprise this season.
T.J. Duckett (Michigan State, Jr.
RB): Duckett was the most highly touted
recruit in East Lansing since Magic
Johnson, and thus far he hasn't disap-
pointed the Spartan faithful.
After two seasons, Duckett is already
12th on Michigan State's all-time rushing
list, with just one year of being the
Spartans' full-time starter. He rushed for
1,353 yards and seven scores last season
while facing defenses that gave no
respect to Michigan State's passing
game. Duckett should be helped by a
more potent passing game this season,
but he is still the Spartans' No. 1 threat.
Duckett has a much different style than
Anderson - something that Anderson is
quick to point out.
"If I don't have to hit a guy, believe me,
I won't!' Anderson said. "But he is one of
those guys that makes his living doing
If Duckett is to contend for the
Heisman, he will have to improve on his
mark of seven touchdowns - down from
10 his freshman season. But with just one
returning starter on his offensive line -
sophomore center Brian Ottney -
Duckett will need some help from an
inexperienced group to get the numbers,
and some help from his teammates to get
the wins.
* "Players who win (the Heisman) are,
pretty much on teams that go undefeated
or lose one game - it is an award you
have to win as a team," Duckett said.
Despite the possible setbacks, Duckett
has too much talent to ignore. The spot-
light has been on him since he arrived on
campus and pro teams can't wait to get
their paws on him.
But Duckett is thus far committed to
staying in school and graduating, which
bodes well for the Spartans and his
Heisman chances. If he doesn't get it this
year, next year the hype will no doubt be
Kurt Kittner (llinois, Sr. QB): Of
all of the candidates in the Big Ten,

Kittner is perhaps the longest shot at win-
ning the Heisman. It takes ridiculous
numbers to win it for a quarterback and
Kittner has yet to show that he is capable.
Nevertheless, Kittner is ESPN the
Magazine's regional cover boy for the
Midwest, which will certainly help him at
the beginning of the season. He is also
featured as one of top quarterbacks
nationally by ESPN.
"Kurt Kittner is one of the best quar-
terbacks in the country," his coach Ron
Turner said.
The Illinois athletic department has
done its share to promote Kittner. The
promotion includes a full-page of accom-
plishments in the Illinois media guide
and handing out notebooks with Kittner's
picture and statistics on the cover.
Kittner is entering his third year as a
full-time starter for the Illini after starting
five games his freshman season. He has
an incredible touchdown-to-interception
ratio over past two years, with 42 scores
to just 13 interception, but, he has yet to
throw over 3,000 yards in a season. The
closest he came was just over 2,700 in his
sophomore season.
Kittner will be helped by the return of
a go-to receiver in sophomore Brandon
Lloyd, who broke his leg and had to miss
the entire season after a tremendous
freshman campaign. Lloyd set Illinois'
freshman receiving record in 1999 with
511 yards in seven starts.
When asked about Lloyd's recovery,
Kittner was confident about the receiver's
"He may even be better when he
comes back," Kittner said.
After two Lloyd-Kittner hook-ups
against California, the Illini passing
game looks to be on track for a tri-
umphant return.
If Illinois' makes a run at the Big Ten
title, look out for Kittner, who should
carry the team this season. But if the Illini
have another mediocre season, Kittner's
chances for the Heisman will fade away.
Antwaan Randle II (Indiana, Sr.
WR/QB): Randle El has been Indiana's
do-everything quarterback for the past
three years. He has started every game as
a Hoosier and has accumulated nearly.
6,000 yards passing and 3,000 yards
These are spectacular numbers, but
Indiana is just 11-22 with Randle El as a

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