These 8 B1G players have slow starts, but I’m not letting them go yet


Ryan o’gara | 2 hours ago

It’s a long season, so it’s important not to overreact to a slow start. But almost a month later, there are a handful of star players starting slow – at least statistically speaking.

But it’s too early to panic. The lack of productivity could be due to the current situation (as with the Ohio State QBs) or a difficult schedule (as in Indiana). With more than 2 months left in the regular season, I’m not betting on these 8 guys:

WR Chris Olave (Ohio State)

We would have to go back to 2018, Olave’s real freshman season, to find a 2-game streak in which he had anemic stats with 2 catches for 12 yards, which the star has totaled in the last 2 weeks. His receiving yards average per game has gone from 104.1 last year to 63.8 this year.

But there is no need to worry. Those 2 games down were against Tulsa and Akron, for one. Second, there would still be a bump or two on the road this season without Justin Fields and with a first-time rookie; there just isn’t the same chemistry. And finally, there are so many mouths to feed in the state of Ohio, Garrett Wilson also being a probable first round and top rookies Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Emeka Egbuka and Julian Fleming waiting backstage.

I don’t think Olave would have returned for his senior season if he hadn’t had a ton of confidence in the Ohio State QB situation. He could have been a first round player last year, so he must have felt very attached to this year’s squad and CJ Stroud. It may just take a while to get started on the right track.

You can’t maintain a WR as smooth as this for too long.

QB Michael Penix Jr. and WR Ty Fryfogle (Indiana)

Remember when this was the norm for these 2?

There hasn’t been a lot of that between one of the B1G’s top QB-WR duos last year. After combining 7 touchdowns in 6 games together last year (including 3 at Ohio State), you’d think these guys would pick up where they left off. To say 2021 has been a disappointment would be an understatement. Penix has 6 INT and only 4 TD passes – with only 1 for Fryfogle. But I am not selling my stock in these 2 at the moment. In fact, I buy more when the price is low. They faced 2 elite defenses in Iowa and Cincinnati (and have another one this week at Penn State), but the arrow points up after Fryfogle catches 10 passes for 98 yards at Western Kentucky.

RB Noah Cain (State of Pennsylvania)

Cain was unable to build on that promise he showed as a true freshman and top recruit. He’s averaging just 3.4 yards per carry, up from 5.3 on average in 2019. He only had one run against Villanova as he was reportedly injured and missed pre-game practice. . While Cain’s numbers have been disappointing this season and his health is worrying, I’m betting on a few things in Cain’s favor: The offensive line is talented on paper (although they haven’t performed very well), the offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich is creative and will figure out how to maximize Cain, and Penn State has an excellent reputation in developing RBs (Saquon Barkley, Miles Sanders and Journey Brown have all had huge seasons with the Nittany Lions over the past 5 years. ).

RB Jalen Berger (Wisconsin)

It’s a mystery why Berger stays in Paul Chryst’s niche. The B1G’s No.5 rusher last season in yards per game, Berger has a massive 1 reach in both Badgers’ 2 games against Power 5 opponents (and he went for 8 yards). Clemson transfer Chez Mellusi got the starting position in the preseason, but it’s nothing special. Anytime Berger gets an extended run in the backfield, it is assumed here that he will make it count.

S Brandon Joseph (North West)

Joseph was an All-American last year after leading the country with 6 interceptions. It was a relatively slow start for the second, in part due to a change in circumstances. The Wildcats played ahead for most of last season, winning the West. This year, they’ve quickly fallen behind teams like Michigan State and Duke, and when that happens, the opportunities are limited for a bullet-hawker safety like Joseph. Don’t worry, though, he got his first INT of the year against Ohio. Even though Joseph ranks 26th out of 33 B1G securities in terms of PFF grade, this is a small sample. The water always finds it level.

CB Faion Hicks (Wisconsin)

Guess who is PFF’s lowest rated B1G cornerback for 4 weeks… it’s Hicks. But that doesn’t quite tell the whole story for a player who had to sit against East Michigan due to injury and rebounded from a tough first game of the season with a very strong performance against Notre. Dame, even though he gave up a TD in a tight cover. . Even defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard said: “He was tested early, he was tested a lot and he did a great job.” That kind of approval tells me that Hicks, a player with 30 career starts, won’t be down for long.

BY George Karlaftis (Purdue)

The guy many (including me) predicted would lead the B1G in the sacks only has 2-4 games, barely the kind of pace one would expect from a likely pick in the first round of the NFL Draft. But don’t worry, Karlaftis is still his usual dominant self – he just gets a ton of attention from the offensive lines as they usually give a lot of tackle help. PFF has Karlaftis as its # 10 on-board rusher in terms of overall rating. The bags will come.


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