Quarterbacks leading with their legs

2011-09-20T22:50:00Z 2011-09-21T00:34:32Z Quarterbacks leading with their legsDon Doxsie The Quad-City Times
September 20, 2011 10:50 pm  • 

Minnesota coach Jerry Kill said that if he had his way, it wouldn't be like this.

His leading rusher would be his tailback.

His quarterback would only tuck the ball under his arm and run when it was absolutely necessary.

Unfortunately, it has been necessary a lot this season, not only for Gophers quarterback MarQueis Gray but for QBs all over the Big Ten.

The top three rushers in conference this week are quarterbacks.

Nebraska's Taylor Martinez leads the league with an average of 128 yards per game, followed by Michigan's Denard Robinson at 117.3 and Gray at 109.3.

Another QB, Northwestern's Kain Colter, is eighth in the league in rushing yardage, and four other starting QBs in the league average more than 30 yards rushing per game.

"I think we're seeing it week in and week out now," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said on the Big Ten's weekly coaches teleconference. "This will be the fourth straight week that we'll face a team with some designed runs for the quarterback. It seems to be the direction college football is going right now."

It's going that way more in the Big Ten than anywhere else.

Martinez, Robinson and Gray not only are the top three rushers in the Big Ten; they're the top three running QBs in the country this week.

Nebraska coach Bo Pellini said he wouldn't read too much into that.

"I think it just shows that there are a lot of good athletes playing quarterback in our conference right now," he said.

Robinson set the Big Ten record for rushing yards by a quarterback last season, and Gray established a Minnesota single-game rushing record for quarterbacks last week against Miami (Ohio).

But Kill still said he would prefer it wasn't this way.

"It just happened that we needed his legs last Saturday," he said. "But I think all the coaches would tell you they'd rather not have their quarterback running that much. I think we all worry when you have the him running what his health is going to be like when you get to games 9, 10, 11 and 12."

Back on sidelines?

Penn State coach Joe Paterno, still hobbled by an injury he suffered in preseason when one of his players ran into him in practice, said he's hoping to coach from the sidelines Saturday when his team hosts Eastern Michigan.

Paterno began walking without a cane last week and was hoping to be on the sideline for the Nittany Lions' game with Temple.

"But I walked around for 20, 30 minutes before the game last week and got tired,'' he said. "I didn't want to be a distraction so I went upstairs. It's getting better every week but I won't know until Thursday or so. I think I'm going to be able to (be on the sideline)."

Quite a tradition

One of Paterno's comments on this week's opponent, Eastern Michigan: "I think everyone knows they have a great tradition.''

For the record, the Eagles have not gone to a bowl game since 1987, have had eight coaches in the past 20 years, went 0-12 in 2009 and have the 107th best won-loss percentage all-time out of 120 FBS schools.

Meeting a legend

Kill got a surprise visitor in his office Monday when former Indiana basketball coach Bob Knight stopped by.

Knight is friends with Minneapolis Star Tribune columnist Sid Hartman, who brought the legendary but volatile coach over to meet Kill.

"I have a lot of respect for anyone who has won that many games and is in the hall of fame,'' Kill said. "It was a good uplifter and a good education. You can always learn from someone who has had that kind of success, whether it's in football or basketball. I'm kind of old school and Coach Knight is old school so it was a pretty good conversation."

Taking the week off

The first round of bye weeks pops up for Big Ten teams this week.

Purdue does not play, which Boilermakers coach Danny Hope likes because it gives his team a chance to savor a bounce-back victory over Southeast Missouri State.

Northwestern does not play, which Wildcats coach Pat Fitzgerald likes because his team is reeling from a disheartening loss to Army.

"Based on the game we played a week ago, it's a huge advantage (to have a bye week),'' Fitzgerald said. "Of any team in our conference, we needed a bye this week."

Reunion week

A couple of Big Ten coaches will be facing old friends this week.

Michigan State takes on Central Michigan, whose coach, Dan Enos, was an assistant under the Spartans' Mark Dantonio at Michigan State and Cincinnati.

Michigan hosts San Diego State, which is where Wolverines head coach Brady Hoke, coached the previous two years.

Lions eyed Big East

With Pittsburgh and Syracuse agreeing to move from the Big East to the Atlantic Coast Conference, Paterno was asked if Penn State ever considered joining the Big East many years ago before becoming the Big Ten's 11th member.

Paterno said there were serious discussions along those lines more than 30 years ago when he was serving as the football coach and athletic director at Penn State. There was a movement to get the larger schools in the east, including Penn State, Pitt, Syracuse and Boston College, to band together into a conference but many wanted the alliance to be for basketball only.

Penn State was interested in expanding its women's sports programs and wanted to be in a league for all sports. It turned up its nose at the basketball-only idea.

"It wasn't what we thought was in the best interests of Penn State so we pulled away from it,'' Paterno said.

Who's hot

Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson passed for 347 yards against Northern Illinois and is second in the nation in passing efficiency with a rating of 213.40. Wilson is averaging 300.33 yards of total offense per game.

Who's not

Ohio State quarterback Joe Bauserman, a 25-year-old senior, completed just 2 of 14 passes for 13 yards and had minus-3 yards rushing in a 24-6 loss to Miami (Fla.).

By The Numbers

23-3

The won-loss record of Big Ten teams at home this season.

61.9

Third-down conversion percentage by Illinois, third best in the country behind Georgia Tech and Texas Tech.

He said it

Minnesota coach Jerry Kill on the state of his program: "I'm just worried right now about building a program on concrete. We've been on sand here for a lot of years."

Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald on his team's loss to Army: "We were awful - just awful - on both sides of the ball on third down in the second half and it cost us the game."

 

Copyright 2015 The Quad-City Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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