Bucknotes - 10/25

Dave Biddle is back today with more Bucknotes, and he talks Big Ten QBs, Mike Stafford's health, Chris Gamble and the CBs, and more.

With Penn State sophomore standout Zack Mills coming to town this week, there's been a lot of talk as to who are the top quarterbacks in the Big Ten.

Is Craig Krenzel among the best? What's happened to Purdue's Kyle Orton? Is John Navarre as bad as some Buckeye fans think?  We'll get to quarterback efficiency ratings in a minute, but in the  meantime, here are my uneducated rankings of the Big Ten QBs...

1. Mills (Without him, my guess is that JoePa would be forced into "early"
retirement. Mills isn't flashy, he just gets the job done).

2. Jeff Smoker, MSU, Jr. (Hasn't played up to par this year despite having
the best receiver in the nation in Charles Rogers. But the Spartans struggles have much more to do with coach Bobby Williams than Smoker... By the way, Smoker is suspended for this week's game against Wisconsin for a unspecified violation of team rules).

3. Brad Banks, Iowa, Sr. (Former JUCO transfer split time at QB last season for the Hawkeyes, but has been excellent this year as the full-time starter).

4. Krenzel, OSU, Jr. (Just gets better with every game and is fast losing the label of, "Type of QB that won't lose games for you." Now, it's more like, "Type of QB that might win games for you.").

5. Navarre, Michigan, Jr. (Has actually played pretty well this year for TSUN. Has a strong arm and slow feet).

6. Asad Abdul-Khaliq, Minnesota, Jr. (Talented runner, average thrower. Led Gophers to 7-1 record so far against very weak opponents).

7. Jim Sorgi, Wisconsin, Jr. (I've always thought he was better than Brooks Bollinger... The strong-armed Sorgi even showed some running skills against the Buckeyes).

8. Jon Beutjer, Illinois, Jr. (Iowa transfer has played well at times for struggling Illini).

9. Gibran Hamdan, Indiana, Sr. (Big, athletic quarterback with strong arm and kind of came out of nowhere this year. Like Krenzel, gets better each week).

10. Brandon Kirsch, Purdue, Fr. (Low on the list right now, but is on the way to having a very nice career in Joe Tiller's pass-happy offense. Kirsch, an accurate passer and very good scrambler, has beat out sophomore Kyle Orton for the starting job).

11. Brett Basenez, Northwestern, Fr. (Injured right now, but will be a solid player for the next three years for the Wildcats).

Okay, enough of my opinions. Here is the list that matters: 2002 overall quarterback efficiency ratings...
1. Banks 159.8
2. Krenzel 158.6
3. Mills 146.2
4. Abdul-Khaliq 140.5
5. Beutjer 137.4
6. Bollinger 133.9
7. Smoker 133.4
8. Orton 125.9
9. Navarre 125.3
10. Hamdan 119.5
(No other QBs have enough attempts to qualify)

It will be interesting to see who finishes at the top of that list, but right now it's clearly a three-man race between Banks (1575 passing yards, 58.7 completion percentage, 15 TD, 4 INT), Krenzel (1275, 62.3, 9-2) and Mills (1686, 59.8, 11-3).  Just the fact that Krenzel is being mentioned among the best in the conference speaks volumes about the hard work he put in during the offseason and what a great quarterbacks coach Jim Tressel is. By the way, Ohio State is No. 1 in the conference in overall passing efficiency (163.4) and No. 2 in the nation. Backup QB Scott McMullen's strong play in limited action helps out in that area.

Senior guard Mike Stafford played well the first few games of the season, but a badly sprained ankle in the Cincinnati game has had him on the shelf ever since. Tressel's addressed Stafford's status this week.

"Mike Stafford has a high ankle sprain and those typically take a little longer," Tressel said. "We usually feel it takes at least three weeks and Mike is going on five weeks now. But I think he's back to the point now where he can help us.

"If you could pick the best thing that Mike Stafford does, it would be the pulls. You know, he's not the big 325-pound guard, he's a quick guard. He pulls extremely well, but obviously you have to do everything. But I think he's to the point now where he can functionally do everything for us and I think we'll find out this weekend just how much he can help us out."

We all know by now that Chris Gamble is going to be used at cornerback in key situations. But just how much can we expect to see No. 7 out there on defense? Tressel wouldn't say for sure, but did give this take on Gamble.

"I think Chris Gamble's done an excellent job when he's given the opportunity," Tressel said. "Chris is a guy that wants to help in any way he can. But I think we have to be cognizant of how good you can be doing many different things. Sometimes you can ask guys to do too many things and you might start to lose effectiveness. But I think Chris can certainly help us out there.

"When you lose Rich McNutt who was giving you X amount of plays, you need to find some guys that can help out. I think E.J. (Underwood) is coming along and we're also going to look at Harlen Jacobs, Chris Conwell and Bobby Britton. So, I think we have enough people that can help us at that position and Chris Gamble is sure one of them."

Penn State's Adam Taliaferro will make an emotional return to Ohio Stadium on Saturday. But it's not his first trip back to Columbus since the spinal cord injury he suffered in the 2000 OSU-PSU game. Taliaferro actually returned to Ohio State in the spring of '01 to thank the University doctors that helped his recovery. Tressel said he had a chance to meet Taliaferro at that time.

Taliaferro's playing career is over, but thankfully he is walking again. It will be nice to see the ovation that Buckeye fans give him on Saturday.

Leave it to the BCS to do something like this. Ohio State's 45-21 drubbing of Texas Tech on Aug. 24 does not count as far as the BCS is concerned. Never mind that the NCAA counts it as a real game and that the stats from that game count. (Seems like a contradiction, huh?).

So,  How much would that game help OSU's strength of schedule? Not a whole lot, but it would help. The Red Raiders have defeated some decent teams (like Ole Miss) and will be a bowl team. It just makes no sense that the BCS can pick and choose what games to count... But, it really doesn't matter. If the Bucks go 13-0, everything will take care of itself. Somehow.

Is the most gutless move in football in my opinion. Now, when you have Andy Groom on your side, you are forced to think a little different. But, I still can't figure out why the Bucks would punt on 4th-and-4 from the 37 trailing 14-13 late in the third quarter against Wisconsin.  Hey, it ended up working out, but going for it there would not have been much of a gamble. And it's not like Tressel is opposed to taking chances on the road. Last year in the Michigan game, the Bucks went for it on 4th-and-1 from midfield and Jonathan Wells took it all the way for a 14-0 lead.

As most Buckeye fans know, Ohio State is 4-0 against Penn State in Ohio Stadium since the Nittany Lions joined the Big Ten. The total combined score of those games? An eye-popping 135-28.

Former Buckeye Michael Redd recently signed a four year/$12 million contract with the Milwaukee Bucks (they matched Dallas' offer sheet). In just his second preseason game, Redd exploded for 30 points in a 115-107 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

Ken Johnson, the Big Ten single-season and career leader in blocked shots, is in camp with the Miami Heat, but has just seven points and one block in four games so far this preseason in limited action.

You can contact Dave Biddle at sports@madison-press.com.

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