In a football sense, spring has already arrived in the Big Ten.

Meteorological conditions may not align with that reality, but Michigan already got things started last week. The rest of the Big Ten will be following the Wolverines in short order with a full allotment of 15 spring practices.

There is some level of irony to Michigan’s early start — no team in the Big Ten has fewer questions to answer this offseason than the Wolverines. This spring is largely an exercise in building depth for Michigan.

Elsewhere — just about all of the elsewheres — there will be plenty to monitor.

Illinois: Welcome to a new everything

The Illini must find a replacement for program stalwart Chase Brown, who was the do-everything guy on offense. Illinois also moves on from quarterback Tommy DeVito, who was the program’s steadiest hand behind center since Nate Scheelhaase.

Yet neither of those is the biggest question facing the program this spring.

It’s how the defense will come together under new coordinator Aaron Henry after Ryan Walters departed to coach at Purdue. The Illini are also losing a lot of NFL talent on defense, from corner Devon Weatherspoon to safety Sydney Brown to defensive tackle Jer’Zhan Newton.

Indiana: Come together — right now

Indiana was clobbered by transfer portal defections in the first days of the offseason, but Tom Allen cobbled together the country’s 10th-best transfer class according to 247Sports.

Now the trick is integrating those 18 newcomers into a cohesive unit. The Hoosiers have been the pits of the Big Ten East since nearly reaching the conference championship game in 2020.

All eyes will be on transfer quarterback Tayven Jackson — also known as the little brother of Trayce Jackson-Davis.

Iowa: Building a 25 ppg machine

Brian Ferentz’s mission, which he chose to accept, is to build an offense capable of scoring 25 points per game — or he’s out of a job.

The Hawkeyes obviously won’t be paying homage to Mike Leach and running the Air Raid. But it would be good to see signs of life from Iowa’s offense. That could mean quarterback Cade McNamara and former Michigan teammate Erick All, any of Iowa’s receivers, or improved play up front.

Such is the advantage of going against Iowa’s defense — if the offense actually does something, it’s probably good.

Maryland: New kids who can block

The Terrapins have the best returning quarterback in the Big Ten. But Taulia Tagovailoa is going to need some time to throw, and that part is not guaranteed.

Maryland needs to replace 3 starting offensive linemen, including an NFL-caliber left tackle in Jaelyn Duncan. There may not be a position where practice reps matter more than among the starting 5 offensive linemen, so this will be a valuable spring for the Terps.

Michigan: Who has the edge?

The Wolverines don’t have many questions to answer this spring, but there are still a few.

Defensive end is the position where Michigan must find a pair of replacements for the second straight season. Mike Morris and Eyabi Okie didn’t perform at an Aidan Hutchinson/David Ojabo level, but they were likely better than any program outsider could have anticipated. Now Michigan needs to find the next generation of edge rushers.

It’s also the second straight year that the Wolverines need to find a new starting center. Olu Oluwatimi more than filled Andrew Vastardis’ shoes, winning the Rimington Award as the nation’s best center. Transfers LaDarius Henderson and Drake Nugent will vie to be next in line.

Michigan State: Can anyone defend a pass?

In 2021, Michigan State was dead last nationally with 324 passing yards per game allowed. Last year, the Spartans were dead last nationally with 2 interceptions.

Mel Tucker hasn’t made any major staff alterations, though, so it’ll be on defensive coordinator Scottie Hazelton to finally figure out a solution in the secondary.

Getting the running game back on track is also of concern. Michigan State dropped all the way to 12th in the B1G in rushing in its first season post-Kenneth Walker.

Minnesota: Establishing a new offensive identity — maybe

The Gophers are cheap — though perhaps they’d prefer to be described as “frugal” or “sensible” — so offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca left for another Big Ten program for the second time in 4 years. Or maybe a person can only spend so much time working for PJ Fleck.

Either way, Minnesota has new co-offensive coordinators in Matt Simon and Greg Harbaugh Jr.

Harbaugh, by the way, is not related to Jim and John. He doesn’t even pronounce his name the same way, going with Har-bo rather than Har-baw in a bit of a “Young Frankenstein” scenario.

At any rate, the Gophers are replacing their 3 interior offensive linemen and running back Mohamed Ibrahim, who helped set the tone for the Big Ten’s most physical offense. But Minnesota has a solid core of receivers returning. Will we see the new coordinators scheme a plan to get the ball to them more often?

Nebraska: Setting some ground Rhules

New coach Matt Rhule needs to get the Cornhuskers as far away from Scott Frost’s stench as possible in his first spring.

Most of that work will be cultural in nature as Nebraska attempts to develop a winning mindset. But the heavy lifting will need to be done by the guys who do the heaviest lifting — offensive and defensive linemen.

Nebraska was 108th in the country in run defense last year and 104th in yards per carry on offense.

The most disappointing aspect of Frost’s tenure was his inability to recruit a team that could do the things Nebraska excelled at when he was a player. Rhule knows he needs to change that.

Northwestern: 30 practices needed

The Wildcats need spring practice, summer practice, fall practice and winter practice. This is the Big Ten’s worst team by a wide margin. And it’s only growing wider.

Northwestern’s biggest change is new defensive coordinator David Braun, who was wildly successful at North Dakota State. He’ll have his work cut out for him, but a new voice is just what the Cats needed.

Ohio State: Who wins the QB derby?

Welcome to the defining question of the spring in the Big Ten.

If the Buckeyes find a proper replacement for CJ Stroud, Ohio State will again be in the hunt for a Big Ten title and College Football Playoff berth. All of the other key pieces are back in place.

And if they don’t, a door could open for a team like Penn State.

Kyle McCord, who backed up Stroud the past 2 years, seems to have the full confidence of Ryan Day in accomplishing the task. It’s pretty noteworthy that Day didn’t try recruiting over McCord in the transfer portal, instead opting for an experienced backup in Oregon State’s Tristan Gebbia.

However, McCord isn’t going to run away with it without a push from redshirt freshman Devin Brown. And much like the competition between Dwayne Haskins and Joe Burrow in 2018, there’s a chance the loser leaves town at the end of spring. And that will affect some other program, whether in the B1G or beyond.

For a variety of reasons, Columbus is the most interesting Big Ten destination this spring.

Penn State: Developing a new passing attack

Penn State fans have been calling for Drew Allar since he was still in high school. They’re finally getting him as he heads into his sophomore season.

But the first-time starter does not have the benefit of a veteran receiving corps, and that’s what makes this spring so vital for the Nittany Lions. The team lodged in third place in the Big Ten pecking order needs the passing attack to come together this fall to have any chance at changing that.

Junior KeAndre Lambert-Smith is by far the most accomplished wideout in the group at this point. (Kent State transfer Dante Cephus won’t be in Happy Valley until the summer.)

James Franklin abruptly dismissed receivers coach Taylor Stubblefield and replaced him with former Virginia receivers coach Marques Hagans this offseason. This spring is Hagans’ first opportunity to make an impact — and it’ll be needed.

Purdue: What’s a Ryan Walters team look like?

We know what a Ryan Walters defense looks like. His group at Illinois last season allowed the fewest points in the country.

But what does a Ryan Walters football team look like? We’ll get some hints, at least, as the first-time head coach makes his spring debut in West Lafayette.

With the addition of Texas transfer Hudson Card, it feels safe to assume the Boilermakers will remain pretty dedicated to throwing the ball. But we’ll see what other wrinkles Walters brings to the table on both sides of the ball.

Worth noting: Purdue hasn’t led the Big Ten in scoring defense since 1959. So it’ll be something if Walters replicates what he did at Illinois a year ago.

Rutgers: Finding an offensive identity

The aforementioned Kirk Ciarrocca is Rutgers’ new offensive coordinator, and Minnesota’s brand of smashmouth football seems like the best shot the Scarlet Knights have at competing in the Big Ten East.

At some point, though, quarterback Gavin Wimsatt will need to figure out how to pass with some consistency, or opponents will just load the box with success. Rutgers was by far the Big Ten’s worst passing team a year ago, averaging 153.6 yards per game and completing a mere 50.6% of attempts.

Wisconsin: The overhaul begins

The revolution is under way in Madison.

The Badgers don’t just have a new coach in Luke Fickell. They have a completely new identity thanks to the hire of offensive coordinator Phil Longo, who ran one of the nation’s most wide-open and up-tempo offenses at North Carolina as well as prior stops at Ole Miss and Sam Houston State.

Wisconsin is still likely to be a run-first team, but the way the Badgers do it will look a lot different. And there will be plenty of passing to complement that rushing attack, whether it’s SMU transfer Tanner Moredcai or Oklahoma transfer Nick Evers who wins the starting job.