Sunday, August 31, 2008

Looking back...

It just occurred to me, can you imagine how unbearable reading the paper and watching sports on the news would be today if Duane Bennett hadn't gotten that first down? Holy crap! Reusse would be calling for Brewster's job and Sid (always stating the obvious) would be saying that Brewster should have gone for the field goal. A little birdy would probably have something boring to tell shooter about Brewster. Cripes, I bet even Lou Holtz would have been spitting all over the ESPN studio desk talking about how dumb Brewster was.

I think we can all agree that Gopher Football, and the world for crying out loud, is a better place today because Bennett got that first down.

So what about Brewster deciding to go for it on that play? Word in the paper today was that Brewster never questioned whether to go for it or not, he only called the time-out to decide how they were going to do it. (Speaking of timeouts... anybody notice that Brewster AGAIN called a timeout, I think in the 2nd quarter, when the Gophers were on defense and the game clock was about to run out on the opposing offense? Also, since we are talking about clock management... what the heck kind of effort was that at the end of the 1st half?)

I commend Brewster for making that call. When he called that timeout I was nervous that he was suddenly going to go conservative on us. But you've got to hand it to Brewster. At the end of the day, if he's nothing else, he's a man with gigantic 'nads.

Saturday, August 30, 2008


(Closed Circuit to Adrian... see, I'm writing this week.)

Well hey, a W is a W, right?

Without digging into specific numbers of tonight's game, here are some thoughts on what I saw from section 207.

We knew the defense was going to be trouble this year again. The calling card of the Gophers defense over the past decade has been giving up big plays on 3rd & long, and that certainly didn't change tonight.

If the Gophers are going to win the 5 games that I have predicted they would win, they are going to need to play the ball control game on offense. Coach Brewster should use the first drive of the game (over 90 yards, over 8 minutes, and a TD) as a blue-print for the season. Every second that this team can keep the defense off of the field is going to be a bonus.

Speaking of ball control, the Gophers are going to need to get a bigger contribution from the running game if we are going to be competitive at all. Bennett's 61 yard TD run was roughly half of the teams entire rushing output, which is pathetic. The short dink-&-dunk passes are great, and those types of completions help control the clock, which is huge. But the run game is going to have to step up. Personally, I'd like to see Jay Thomas get some carries in this offense.

Maybe I'm in the minority here, but I wasn't overly impressed with Weber's effort tonight. His numbers turned out to look pretty good, but I was disappointed to see him still throwing into tight coverages. In addition, his accuracy needs to improve. He missed a number of open recievers tonight, and usually he was throwing short, which is alarming. Lastly, it doesn't look like he's checking down his throwing options very well. The majority of the time he seems to take the snap, and while he is back-peddling he is looking to one reciever, who he ends up throwing to, without looking at other options. If Weber is going to be effective in the spread, he is going to need to work on this.

Overall, I think this was a very important victory for the Gophers. They found a way to win, which is something they clearly couldn't do last year.

Nice game fellas!!! Let's get after it next week too!


Good morning Gopher Fans! Can you feel it? Can you?


All over the country college football fans are getting ready. Setting their TiVo's, putting soda and beer in their coolers, picking out a cut of meat, making sure the grill is ready, loading up their SUV's, pick-ups, mini-vans and cars... ah, the great American past time, tailgating!

Despite enjoying perhaps one or two too many adult beverages while watching the Monsters of Mock last night, I awoke this morning with a renewed sense of excitement.

5 hours to the Victory Walk, 8 hours to kick-off Gopher Fans! See you on the plaza and in the parking lot!


Friday, August 29, 2008

The Daily Gopher

If you haven't yet heard, the authors of two fantastic Gopher related blogs have joined forces. The authors of Paging Jim Shikenjanski and Gopher Nation, have come together to form The Daily Gopher.

Aside from being a very aesthetically pleasing blog to look at, these guys are top notch writers, who really know their stuff, are well plugged in and who are far more objective and less emotional than I am.

On a personal note, through the magic of Facebook, the gentleman who goes by Gopher Nation and I discovered this week that we grew up going to Bible camp together. I recall him being the only person that I went to camp with in those days whose opinions about sports were ones that I actually respected. Turns out I've been respecting his opinions and his work on Gopher Sports on his Gopher Nation blog, and we've been linking to each others blogs for a year, and we didn't even know who was behind them until this past week.

He's a heck of a guy, it's a heck of a blog, it's got tremendous upside potential, I couldn't be more pleased, it's fantasic, they are football guys, they represent the state of Minnesota well, (insert additional hyperbolic Brewster-ism here) and you should definitely check out The Daily Gopher. (Link to The Daily Gopher also available to the right in my blog list.)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Test scores reaction

Likely you've read the Strib article today on the incoming class of football recruits and their reportedly low standardized test scores. This is, of course, a concern to all of us who love Gopher football.

But I had a couple of issues with this report.

First of all, I wonder how many newspapers in, oh, I don't know, say central Ohio, or Detroit, or Los Angeles, or Gainesville, FL are digging up ACT scores for incoming freshman football players and making an issue of it 3 days before the first game of the season. Clearly this issue gets some heightened awareness around these parts based on the recent news of MarQueis Gray not being with the team based on the unusually dramatic increase in his ACT scores.

Which actually leads to my next issue...

Why is MarQueis Gray even mentioned in this article when, according to the article, "The Star Tribune requested college entrance scores for incoming freshman football players from every Big Ten school last summer under the nation's Freedom of Information Act."

First of all, great job by the Star Tribune of utilizing the Freedom of Information Act.

The current recruiting class is being thrown under the bus for the transgressions of the previous class. If the test scores pulled were from last year's incoming class, then let's talk about it, but let's not put the current recruiting class in the same discussion. As the article points out, and in my opinion should have done in a separate article, the incoming recruiting class has plenty of issues of its own academically, to say nothing of what is expected of them as being part of a Big10 football program.

Finally, a good number of that incoming recruiting class last fall had been recruited by Mason's staff (a fact that is not mentioned in this article), and the ones that were recruited by Coach Brewster and his staff were recruited in, essentially, a 4-week period from mid-January when Brewster was hired to the mid-February signing day of 2007. The amount of control that Coach Brewster had over that recruiting class as far as the kind of talent he'd like to see on his football team, not to mention academic standards, was minimal at best.

Look, I fully understand that these are issues that need to be addressed, and I want to see Gopher football players succeed in the classroom as well as on the field. But to insinuate that these recruiting classes are in the same boat is inaccurate, in my opinion, and to pin the pre-college academic shortcomings of last years class on Coach Brewster, to a great extent, is also inaccurate.

If Gopher football is going to make strides to improve the product both on the field and in the classroom, it isn't going to happen in one year, especially when that one year is a transition year in more ways than one.

Monday, August 25, 2008

This is not good...

I don't think I have to tell you, but this is not good.

From the Star Tribune article:

"Highly-touted Gophers freshman quarterback MarQueis Gray has at least temporarily been dropped from the team because of academic eligibility issues. The eligibility questions reportedly center around his college entrance exam scores."

Stream of consciousness breakdown...

Like many out there, I've been reading as much stuff as I can on the Gopher Football team this fall... unfortunately I haven't taken any time to write about it.

I'll now take a stab at some kind of season preview.

Being the resident Gopher fan at work, I get asked a lot about how the season is going to go. My standard response is this: I'm expecting 5 wins. I think this would be a major improvement over last year, and might be enough to shut Reusse... but I doubt it.

I expect the Gopher's to be much faster on defense and much more in-sync on offense. I expect they will win 3 non-conference games (N. Illinois, Montana State & Florida Atlantic, all at home, losing to Bowling Green on the road), and two Big10 games (Indiana & NWestern both at home). The team is still inexperienced, so winning a game on the road will be tough, in addition to the fact that the Big10 road schedule is REALLY tough (OSU, Illinois, Purdue, Wisky).

If all goes according to my prediction (and why wouldn't it?) the Gophers will go into the final week of the season, welcoming Iowa, with a 5-6 record. And that's the trump card. On paper, Iowa is a beatable team, especially at home in the Gophers final game at the Metrodome. On the line: Floyd of Rosedale and a bowl game.

HOLY CRAP!!! How much fun would THAT game be?

And how huge would making a bowl game be for this young team? To give these guys an extra month of practice time would be a big help toward developing this team. Not to mention the fact that going from 1 win to 6 wins would be a massive improvement.

For the season, I expect...
... Adam Weber to be a solid starter, and do more with his arm than his feet, but...
... the offensive line to shuffle and struggle most of the year, so Weber will have to do more throwing on the run.
... David Pittman to make an immediate impact at a couple of offensive positions.
... the defense to be faster and improved, but still mistake prone.
... Coach Brewster and his staff to do a better job of managing the game (i.e. no blunders like when your opponent (NDSU) is on offense, is still in the huddle, and has only 5 seconds on the play clock... and Minnesota calls a timeout.)
... Jay Thomas to lead the team in rushing.
... Eric Decker to be in the top 3 in the Big10 in catches and recieving yards.
... Jack Simmons to be the top tight end in the Big10.
... Marcus Sherels & "Big Play" Trey Simmons to lead the team in interceptions.
... Simoni Lawrence to lead the team in tackles.
... IF the Gophers DO win 6 games and make it to a low-tier bowl game, Reusse will write an article saying that this accomplishment means nothing because Mason would have done the same thing.


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Camp opens... some thoughts

Well, fall football practices have started for your Golden Gopher Football squad, and the leader of the pack appears to have toned things down a bit this year.

I was slightly surprised when I began reading the article in the Strib talking about Coach Brewster taking a softer approach this fall. However, considering Brew had his hands, and his coaches hands on, his players during the off-season, and had the opportunity to focus them on strength and conditioning training throughout, it seems reasonable that he would have a more comfortable feeling coming into camp this year. Let's just hope his intensity on the field doesn't wear off.

One person who doesn't have a more comfortable feeling going into fall camp this year is Offensive Line Coach Phil Meyer. One of the few bright spots from last seasons disappointing team appears to be a question mark as August 30th gets closer. It looks as though 10 guys will get playing time on the offensive line this season and there could be a lot of shifting of positions as guys get used to the Big10. We all know how important the offensive line is in Big10 football, so it's absolutely paramount that this group comes together quickly.

Even with the great recruiting class that the coaching staff brought into the program this year, you had to wonder what impact they would have. Safety/LB Simoni Lawrence was a name you heard as someone who could make an immediate impact, and it appears that, at least thus far in camp, that theory remains intact. I can't tell you how excited I am to be seeing articles about the DEFENSE during fall practice. After last season you knew this had to happen, and hopefully the quick impact that some of these recruits are having in camp will carry over into the season.