Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Reusse on a "Stronger, wiser Weber"

Well, color me surprised that Pat Reusse wrote an article about Gopher football that isn't a multi-paragraphed diatribe bashing Tim Brewster and his hopeful ways.

Still, Reusse couldn't avoid taking at least one small shot at Brew.

Perhaps he's coming around. Who knows?

The gist of the article is that Weber is ready to compete for the starting job this spring, has put on some muscle in order to deal with the amount of hits that he had to endure last year (looks like he will start spring practice with about 10 extra lbs of muscle than he had last season), and is confident in his ability to win the starting job again.

It's clear that Coach Brewster thinks highly of Weber after last season and the performance that he put forward. It's also clear that he thinks that they can, and must, get much more from the quarterback position in order for the spread offense to work effectively, and that he expects this improved performance to happen sooner rather than later. It's good to see the Gophers going into spring practice, and into the season without an incumbent mentality. There is no obvious choice, the best players will play.

I can't recall competition at the QB position in this program... maybe ever? It will be good for Weber to have someone (or someones? Gray and Pittman?) with incredible talent right behind him pushing him to perform at the highest level. It will also be good for the program to have the option to make a move if Weber doesn't perform, and in the long run, to have options for the future as well.

I spoke too soon...

Just yesterday I wrote about how there hasn't been much to talk about in regards to Gopher football recently... today? Not the case. and the Strib (Reusse) each have new content on the Gophs today, while the Pioneer Press has two pieces that mention our beloved Gophers (Powers & Shooter).

I'll try to comment on these stories throughout the day today as I have time...

Some highlights from the Gopher Sports piece:
*On the Kevin Whaley situation, Coach Brewster talked about how he spoke with Whaley's high school coach regarding the situation in the area... something I've heard very little about:
"The high school coach told me that there’s a situation in Tidewater and Virginia Beach where there is a lot of jealously towards kids who are doing well and doing something good with their lives. Here’s a kid that could have gone to Virginia, Michigan State – he could have gone wherever he wanted to go. There’s a lot of jealously towards him. It was a directed act of violence."
*Adam Weber seems to fully understand, and welcome, the fact that he is not the inevitable starter at quarterback, but feels good about his chances:
"Just because I was the starter last year doesn’t mean that I’m going to be the starter this year. The precedent has been set by the coaches that the best players will play. With a year under my belt, that should give me an advantage to make the squad every year I’m here to be able to improve every day. I’m ready for that challenge even though there’s that different feel. I think it takes an understanding of the offense to be able to go out there and make plays. I think that should allow me to stay at the starting spot."

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


As BNAHUSKER so eloquently pointed out in response to my last post: "...there is no "Off Season" in Husker Nation."

I started this blog because I love and care about Gopher Football, and I believe that things in Gopher Nation are on the up-&-up. Part of what I tell people when they ask me about the blog is that one of the reasons I do this is that, similar to playing fantasy football, it gives me an excuse to follow Gopher Football more closely than some people might think seems reasonable. One of my goals when I started this blog was to keep things fresh even during the off-season.

But I'm not going to lie to you, it's hard. If you haven't noticed, this isn't Texas or Nebraska, and there just isn't that much chatter on Gopher Football between January-April. I try to find it where I can, and comment on it, but with everything else that goes on in life, it just isn't always that easy. I mean, all you can hear is crickets right now. Even over at GopherHole, the biggest thing people are talking about is the stadium and Eric Decker playing baseball. It's a fact... things are slow.

Still, I do my best.

Here are some quick hitters on things that have come up recently...

*Did anyone notice that Moses Alipate (2009 recruiting commitment) dropped out of the Top 100 recruits list on Rivals? He was ranked #57 as of February 12th when he committed to the Gophers, and suddenly he has dropped considerably. In fact, he's not even listed in Rivals Top 250... what the...?

*There are just 31 days until the Gopher Spring Football Game at the Metrodome on Friday, April 25th. You should be there.

*From Shooter's column this morning, here's your warm-fuzzy for the day: "Nobody was happier than Tim Brewster when the Gophers' football coach read that incoming quarterback MarQueis Gray, when asked his immediate goals at Minnesota, responded "to be a great teammate." Said Brewster, "How good is that? He's an amazing kid.""

*By now we've all heard about recruit Kevin Whaley getting shot in the leg in Virginia Beach. I haven't seen any updates on his condition in the last couple of days, but we of course wish him a speedy recovery.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Nebraska heading the way of the Gophers?

I came across this very interesting piece this morning on Big Red Network, a Nebraska Cornhuskers football blog (or as they actually refer to it, a "media site."

The piece speaks specifically about Gopher football futility of the past several decades and how the Gopher football program is, in essence, the type of program that Husker fans absolutely fear they might turn into if Bo Pelini doesn't turn things around quickly in Lincoln...

"Look no further than Minnesota, a program that lays claim to six national championships between 1934 and 1960. Murray Warmath was the last head coach to lead a Gopher team to team to a national championship or even a Rose Bowl. Minnesota hasn’t finished higher than third in the Big Ten in the last 40 years, they haven’t won more than six Big Ten games since 1973, and have only four winning conference records in the thirty-four seasons since. They’ve been surpassed by virtually every program in the Big Ten since that time except for Indiana.

The Minnesota program today bears no resemblance to its dominant past. The team doesn’t capture the imagination of the state or anywhere else. How did that happen? The short answer is they stopped winning."

How does that feel Gopher fans? We are officially the example that Husker fans, fans of one of the most successful football programs over the past 40+ years, point to us the living example of what they fear becoming.

I have known some Husker fans over the years, and this guy is right, they tend toward being dang pompous. I've always assumed that this has a lot to do with the fact that there probably isn't much else to follow, as far as sports, in Nebraska. But Nebraska fans aren't any worse than Ohio State or Michigan fans, and (at least the one's that I have known) are nowhere near as bad as Badger or Hawkeye fans are when they are having ONE good season.

But I think that what has happened with the Huskers in the last couple of years speaks more to college football as a whole, than it does to "the Big Red Nation" in particular.

My theory is that college football is beginning to go the way of college basketball. Starting about with the turn of the decade you started to see smaller schools, from the so-called mid-major conferences, compete more regularly with some of the powerhouses in college basketball. While these teams haven't been stealing championships from the big schools, they have made a serious dent in the tournament at times (George Mason, anyone?).

My belief is that this happened because more and more players started entering the NBA earlier, and playing only one or two, if that, seasons in college. Because of this playing college basketball was no longer seen as a 4 year commitment, and suddenly going to a school where you get immediate playing time, so you can get to the NBA in one or two years, is of the utmost importance. Some of these kids saw the choice as being that they could go to Duke, and ride the pine for two years, then play for a year and go to the NBA... or they could go to a smaller school, play immediately, make a big impact quickly, and go to the NBA much faster.

In a culture where fast money and instant gratification is the norm, the choice is easy.

Now look, Duke, UNC and the big boys still probably get the best recruits in the nation, but suddenly the aren't having such an easy time landing the second tier recruits, cause those kids are going, maybe, to the George Mason's of the world.

College football is, I believe, starting to see this trend as well. Like Duke and UNC in basketball, USC, OSU, Florida, LSU, etc, will still likely get the top of the top recruits. But you are starting to see now, illustrated clearly by this year's Gopher recruiting class, that immediate playing time, in some cases, in winning recruits over.

This is good news for Gopher fans... perhaps it will continue to be not-so-good news for some other traditional powerhouses.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Been a long time...

Well, we have a new D-Coordinator... this, I understand is not news to anyone. But, did anyone else find it strange that after word came out that the Gophers hired Ted Roof as the D-Coordinator is was still a few weeks before an "official" announcement came out? I haven't seen any explanation of why the official announcement was so much later. If anyone else has, I'd be curious to find out.

Sid is reporting this morning that Harold Howell will be moving from wide receiver to cornerback this fall. Based on his speed and how poor our secondary was last year, it seems like a reasonable move.

By the way, just in case you are keeping track (and I CLEARLY am), as of today, 42 days until the Gopher Football Spring Game!!!