Can't wait to see these things this fall

Originally Published: May 2, 2005
By Ivan Maisel and Pat Forde | ESPN.com

Three Things I Can't Wait To See This Fall In The Big Ten
Ivan Maisel
Pat Forde
Chad Henne1. Even after a 7-5 season, it came as a jolt to see that no Michigan name got called on the first day of the NFL draft. Coach Lloyd Carr responded to the '05 season by installing new coordinators on both sides of the ball. Can quarterback Chad Henne emerge from a sophomore slump? Can he or anyone take some of the burden off tailback Mike Hart? Can someone call a pattern for the tight end other than a drag across the middle? Can the defensive line get any pressure on opposing passers?

Jim Tressel2. Ohio State has an offense good enough to win a national championship. They have a defense with two returning starters. It is foolish to ever doubt a defense on a Jim Tressel team, so let's not call this doubt. But the Buckeyes will have to be ready early. They go to Texas on Sept. 9, and the Longhorns' offense has everything but a quarterback.

3. Minnesota has had two 1,000-yard rushers for three consecutive seasons. But with the early departure of first-round pick Laurence Maroney and the academic problems of Gary Russell, the Gophers right now can count only on Amir Pinnix. Not to mention that All-American center Greg Eslinger and All-Big Ten guard Mark Setterstrom are gone. Geez, if you can't count on a punishing ground game at Minnesota, what's left?
1. Ohio State won 10 games and a share of the league title by putting defense first. Can the Buckeyes do even better this year by relying on offense? Expectations are huge this year in Columbus, but so are the losses on a tremendous defensive unit. If Ohio State is going to make its hoped-for run at a national title, it will have to do it in an un-Tressel-like manner: outscoring everyone. Including Texas, in Austin.

Lloyd Carr2. How loudly is the clock ticking in the state of Michigan? There's no avoiding it in East Lansing, where John L. Smith will be under pressure from the opening game. Lloyd Carr is only slightly more comfortable in Ann Arbor after closing the season poorly for the second straight year and continuing to lose to Tressel.

Anthony Morelli3. Can Penn State do it again -- or even come close? The Nittany Lions' remarkable bounce-back season was one of the stories of the year in college football in '05. Now, without quarterback Michael Robinson and defensive leaders Tamba Hali and Alan Zemaitis, Joe Paterno tries to prove that the lean times earlier this decade are officially gone for good. A lot will depend on new QB Anthony Morelli's ability to get the ball to those dazzling young skill players.

Ivan Maisel | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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