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Notebook: Big Ten teams look a week ahead

BY CODY GOODWIN | SEPTEMBER 19, 2012 6:30 AM

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The No. 16 Ohio State Buckeyes (3-0) ranks second-to-last in the Big Ten in passing defense. They’ve surrendered a total of 850 yards through the air, averaging 283.3 yards per game.

This is partially the reason why head coach Urban Meyer is worried about Alabama-Birmingham’s Jonathan Perry, the Blazers’ (0-2) dual-threat quarterback. The junior will enter Saturday’s matchup with 536 passing yards.

The first-year Buckeye coach, who said he’s watched both of Birmingham’s games this year, said it’s the deep plays downfield that concerns his defense the most.

“The fact that they’re willing, daring — or whatever you want to call it — this is as many deep balls as we’ll see in one game,” Meyer said in Tuesday’s Big Ten teleconference. “They just throw it down the field a lot.”

Ohio State’s pass defense has seen too many deep passes, according to Meyer. The Buckeyes have surrendered 14 deep passes so far this season, including plays of 42, 58, and 44 yards against Miami (Ohio). They’ve also given up two touchdowns this season on passes of 15 yards or better.

Birmingham head coach Garrick McGee has a recent history with stout passing attacks. He was crucial in the development of Ryan Mallet during his tenure as the offensive coordinator at Arkansas.

But Perry also serves as a mobile threat. He’s third on the Birmingham roster in total rushing yards this season and owns one of the two rushing touchdowns scored by the Blazers, coming out of a speed option.

“Anytime you run an equalizer-type offense, that’s a concern,” Meyer said.

Nebraska’s Pelini says he feels ‘great’

The No. 25 Cornhusker’s head coach didn’t want to discuss his health issues on Tuesday saying there’s “not anything more that needs to be discussed on [the issue].”

“I appreciate all the thoughts and concern,” Bo Pelini said. “I feel great. I’m on a normal schedule.”
Pelini was hospitalized during the second-half of the Sept. 15 game against Arkansas State, which the Huskers won handily, 42-13. Pelini was informed of the game’s score “around the fourth-quarter.”

Rather than worrying about Pelini’s health, Nebraska was more excited about the return of running back Rex Burkhead. The senior All-Big Ten selection was sidelined with a sprained ligament in his left knee.

Pelini said they’ve been trying to “lighten the load” for Burkhead by adding more depth to the backfield. He ran for 1,357 yards a season ago on 284 carries — more than 100 more carries than he had in 2010.

“Obviously, he missed some time here,” Pelini said. “But he’s going to be healthy … We have some pretty good weapons in the backfield. It’s going to take the load off of Rex.”

O’Brien looking for win No. 2

Penn State’s head coach Bill O’Brien was very brief about his first career victory as head coach of the Nittany Lions, saying it was “good to get on the winning side” after the Sept. 15 win.

He quickly shifted his attention to Saturday’s in-state game against Temple. O’Brien said he thinks the game will add a little bit of flair to Saturday’s game.

“Those are always great rivalries for college football,” he said.

Penn State’s current senior class has never lost to Temple.


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