Big Ten Notebook: West Division spring update

BY CODY GOODWIN | APRIL 10, 2014 5:00 AM

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Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz said on Wednesday afternoon’s Big Ten football teleconference that the spring season is used mostly for teaching, that it’s a great opportunity to evaluate players and see what kind of improvement has both been made and is needed.

For two of the conference’s quarterbacks, they’ve used their spring seasons to establish themselves as leaders of their respective teams.

Northwestern’s Trevor Siemian, after spending the last two seasons in a two-quarterback system alongside former Wildcat-turned-union activist Kain Kolter, has assumed the role of starter ahead of his senior season in Evanston, Ill.

Siemian ended the 2013 season with nearly a 60 percent completion rate. He threw for more than 2,000 yards and 11 touchdowns to Kolter’s 577-yard, 4-touchdown passing output.

A native of Windermere, Fla., Siemian said on Wednesday that playing with Kolter certainly had its benefits, but that he’s ready to take over one of the more talented Wildcats teams he’s been a part of.
“It’s been a long time coming,” he said.

Meanwhile, around 400 miles away in Minneapolis, Minn., quarterback Mitch Leidner is expected to take the reins of the Gopher offense for the 2014 season. He also spent last season in a two-quarterback system with Philip Nelson, who announced he was transferring to Rutgers in January.

Leidner was seldom used in the Gopher passing game last season, accruing just 619 yards through the air and throwing just 3 touchdowns. He was a more potent threat in the run game — Leidner tallied four games in 2013 in which he averaged more than 5 yards a carry.

A native of Lakeville, Minn., Leidner said on Wednesday’s teleconference that he’s ready to be the guy to lead Minnesota in the coming fall.

“Everybody sees me as a leader on this team,” he said.

Iowa is scheduled to play both Northwestern and Minnesota in 2014 on Nov. 1 and 8, respectively. The Hawkeyes will host the Wildcats and will travel to TCF Bank Stadium to play the Gophers.

Stave’s injury worries Wisconsin coach

While most teams are using the spring to improve and prepare for the upcoming fall, Wisconsin head coach Gary Anderson has spent part of his spring worrying about his starting quarterback Joel Stave.

Stave, listed as a redshirt junior, injured his throwing shoulder on New Year’s Day in the Capital One Bowl against South Carolina. Anderson said on Wednesday that Stave will sit for the rest of the spring and will undergo an MRI.

“The challenge is to truly indentify the situation and start the rehab process,” the head coach said.

Stave started each game last season for Wisconsin. He threw for nearly 2,500 yards and 22 touchdowns against just 13 interceptions.

Iowa is scheduled to host Wisconsin on Nov. 22.

Purdue track star competing for running-back spot

Between Feb. 28 and March 1, Purdue’s Raheem Mostert claimed two gold medals at the Big Ten track and field indoor championships. He won the 60-meter dash in 6.63 seconds and the 200-meter dash in 20.73 seconds.

About a month later, he’s vying for a starting spot on the Boilermaker football team, according to head coach Darrell Hazell.

Mostert will have to unseat last year’s starting running back, Akeem Hunt, who toted the rock 123 times for 464 yards and 1 touchdown. Mostert himself tallied just 11 carries for 37 yards.

Iowa will travel to West Lafayette to play Purdue on Sept. 27.

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