Yesterday afternoon, the remaining eight conference members kicked off fall camp regiments. That means 2009 is officially in stride. Here's a look at how a few teams have fared out of the gate.
The Buckeyes checked in Sunday short three potential impact players: Outside Linebacker Tyler Moeller will likely sit on the entire 2009 season, after a sucker punch in a Florida bar resulted in persistent head trauma. Moeller's departure robs the Buckeyes of solid speed on the strongside, something they'll miss badly on September 12th. Scouts should play close attention to Brian Rolle, Tony Jackson, and Etienne Sabino (all featured on the second team depth in the spring) to see who emerges as Moeller's replacement.
Also conspicuously absent from camp: Wide Receiver Ray Small, and Defensive End Rob Rose, both of who are sidelined with academic woes. Rose was listed behind Cameron Heyward on the spring depth chart -- so his presence shouldn't be immediately missed. Small, on the other hand, is the scarlet's second-most experienced receiver (behind Dane Sanzenbacher) netting 18 receptions for 149 yards in 2008. Small's father insists he's working on the grade discrepancy and will be plugged in soon. I'm not holding my breath.
In Madison no news is good news. Fresh off a season of inconsistent pass results, Bret Bielema points to injuries as the chief cause of the impotence. For the Badgers to find success in 2009 all three tight ends, including senior Garrett Graham, junior Lance Kendricks and senior Mickey Turner must stay healthy. Last season, only Turner was active in all 13 games. The Big Ten Network tracked down tight ends coach Joe Rudolph after yesterday's practice:
"You try to always figure out a way to get your best players on the field and right now I feel comfortable with any one of those three being put in any role. They realize the roles they can have on the team, and the number of opportunities they have is dependent on their mental capacity to be able to absorb it and then go out and perform."
Bielema is also committed to making strides on special teams, a unit that has been underwhelming under his watch. As the Big Ten Network reports, UW worked on a new formation in the spring, which features three blockers on each side of the long snapper and three blockers in front of sophomore punter Brad Nortman. The goal is to get tacklers down the field more aggressively.