Wednesday, April 29, 2009


That’s a phrase I’ve found myself uttering (…to myself…) lately when it comes to your Minnesota Golden Gophers varsity football squad. I’ve always been a realist/pessimist when it comes to my sports teams, and I’d like to think it comes from a lifetime of heartbreak, disappointment, misery, suffering and agony cheering for the Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Mariners, Vancouver Canucks and Seattle Supersonics (at least before they were stolen from the good and faithful Sonic supporters of Seattle and the Pacific Northwest by David Stern and his merry band of petulant, spineless, greedy, swine-flu spreading, financial market crashing, two-faced lying bastard mother****ers from Oklahoma City. Now the NBA is more dead to me than your dead mother). Admittedly, I did not grow up cheering for the Maroon and Gold like Jer and the Capps family and others, as I made my first voyage to the great state of Minnesota about 11 years ago (I have been in and around these parts ever since), so like dark beer, red wine, and country music, the Golden Gophers have become an acquired taste for me. Because I haven’t lived and died with them in the past, I’ve felt that I can look at the team with somewhat rational eyes and mind (although by the end of the Glen Mason “Era” I was well past rational with how much I hated him and his smarmy used-car salesmen ways).

But after being at O’Shaunessy Stadium last Saturday for the Gopher spring game my supposed rational objectivity, my realistic pessimism, my pessimistic realism went right out the door with just a few precision passes from the arm of MarQueis Gray (MAN-CRUSH!!!), a few shifty steps from Troy Stoudermire, and a few monster tackles from the defense. I have become totally, completely, passionately and irrationally in love with this Gopher football team. This spring, they had me at hello.

It doesn’t mean I’m not still fighting my inner demons/realism/pessimism- because I am. I KNOW that Big 10 titles aren’t won in the spring just like World Series aren’t won in spring training and Super Bowls aren’t won in mini-camps. I know you have to take spring game scrimmage results with a gigantic grain of salt because, you know, it’s a SCRIMMAGE and all…YEAH BUT STILL!!! How can you not be fired up about this Golden Gopher football team?!?

See? There it is- the “YEAH, BUT STILL!!!” that has entered my vocabulary since Saturday. I KNOW I’m putting way too much stock in one glorious Minnesota spring afternoon, but I can’t help but be downright giddy about The U’s prospects for 2009 and beyond. For the first time possibly EVER Minnesota has better quarterbacks than Michigan and Wisconsin, a plethora of weapons at wideout, depth AND experienced talent on defense, and a stable of capable running backs (I know the Gophs had a stable of running backs every year under Mason, but that was about all they had. Ok the line was pretty good too. We’ll get there!).

The O-line certainly remains a real question, and how fast they gel and perform under Tim Davis’ new blocking schemes could very well determine whether it’s the Motor City Bowl or a New Year’s Day bowl for your 2009 Golden Gophs. But at least there’s size and depth now that wasn’t there in Brewster’s first two seasons here. I’m not quite ready to predict Rose Bowl this year, but honestly, after Ohio State who are you afraid of in the Big 10 this year? The Buckeyes are the clear favorites to represent the conference in the Rose Bowl (they’re also the clear favorites to have their a**es handed to them yet again in a national spotlight game. This time it’s Sept 12th under the lights at The Horseshoe when they host USC, and just like last year at The Mausoleum, the Buckeyes will probably lose by 30. Feel the Big 10 Pride!), but after that this conference is WIDE OPEN! I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’.

So bring on your negativity and realism about how spring stats and scrimmage results are meaningless in predicting future success. I will simply say “YEAH, BUT STILL!!!!”

Go Gophers!

Monday, April 27, 2009

New Podcast

Despite what the podcast player to the right says, there IS a new podcast available. Jeff and I recorded after the Spring Game on Saturday. Unfortunately we are having some issues getting our podcast player for this page to upload.

However... you can check out the new podcast at Podomatic, or you can find us on iTunes by searching "Gopher Football Blog Podcast."

Friday, April 24, 2009

More questions

I once heard this quote that went something like "questions are more important than answers."

My response to that? WRONG!

I mean, okay, I suppose in the grand scheme of things, you know, the whole universe and the mysterious of it, down through the sands of time, westward the wagons... where was I? Oh, yeah, I suppose questions are very important.

For example, where in the heck have Jeff and I been? That's a question, and it's an important one, but isn't the answer really more important at this point? (Look at that, another question.)

Speaking of questions, Jeff laid out some good ones about our Gopher Football squad and the upcoming spring football game tomorrow. I've got a couple of questions myself. So here we go...

Who the heck is Jedd Fisch, and what's he going to do to our offense?
That's probably the wrong question. But seriously, what can we expect here? Fisch is a young guy with some pretty decent NFL credentials, so we can feel good about that. But are the Gophers ever going to have some stability in the coordinator spots? It was like a dag-gum revolving door on both sides of the ball when Mason was around, and so far Brewster hasn't faired any better.

What will new O-line coach Tim Davis bring to the table?
Hopefully toughness. We didn't see much in the Insight Bowl from the offensive line that didn't feel very similar to the 2008 season, but by fall Davis will have had an entire spring and summer to work with his squad... a squad that was young, inexperienced, under-sized and injury-riddled all season.

What differences can we expect from a Kevin Cosgrove/Ronnie Lee lead defense?
Hopefully not many, except some stamina. The defense was much improved last year obviously, but like the Gophs as a whole, the D ran out of steam during the Big10 season. Cosgrove will have the benefit of most of the defensive starts back, save for a big loss in Willie VanDeSteeg, and probably Tramaine Brock. You have to expect that Cosgrove won't try to make too many changes, will still focus on speed and turnovers and will hopefully bring some big time football knowledge to the D.

Can you expect to see more consistant blogging from us now?
Some questions just have no answer.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Gopher Football is Back and So Are We!


Hey everybody! It’s great to be back! How the heck are y’all? Are you excited for Gopher spring ball? Can I get a high five? A chest bump? An amen? Anything? Everybody? Anybody? Hello…?

Ok so we’ve been gone a long time. A LONG time.

We’ve been gone longer than it took Axel Rose to write Chinese Democracy (thank you, thank you, I’ll be here all week).

We’ve been gone longer than JoePa has coached at Penn State...ok so maybe not quite THAT long, but you get the idea. While we’ve been gone a long time, we haven’t been gone long enough for…
…Michigan to find a quarterback
…Wisconsin to find a quarterback
…Bret Bielma to be popular in Madison!
…Kirk Ferentz to keep his kids (and by “his kids” I mean both his players that ARE his son and his players that are NOT his son) out of jail
…Terrell Pryor to be a quarterback instead of a running back who throws incompletions

There’s probably more there, but as you can see, there’s a lot of questions to be answered around the Big 10 before the 2009 season kicks off. Will we have any answered in spring ball? Do we really learn anything from spring ball? Not really, but it’s a great excuse to talk college football.

Your Golden Gophers, as you know, also have their share of questions to answer before the season kicks off Saturday September 5th at Syracuse. And while I don’t think we’ll get many, if any, answered at this Saturday’s spring game at St. Thomas (which Jer and I will both be attending. Be there or be square), it won’t stop us from asking them:

We know Adam Weber will start the season at quarterback, but will he still have the job in November?
While some teams like Michigan and Wisconsin are struggling to find somebody, ANYBODY, to run their offense (quick, raise your hand: when was the last time Minnesota had a better QB situation than Michigan AND Wisconsin? Anyone? Bueller?) the Gophers have the luxury of not only a quality starter, but a young phenom fighting for snaps. As Kent Youngblood tells us in his
Strib Gopher football blog, the Gophs coaches are getting creative with ways to get freshman MarQueis Gray on the field, yet head coach Tim Brewster remains adamant that incumbent starter Adam Weber will be the team’s starter for 2009.

From Youngblood’s entry:
"I really don't,'' Brewster said. "I think without question our guy is Adam. But we also have to prepare for the time where, if Adam gets nicked, we have a No. 2 guy we can win with. That's our mind-set.''

It’s one thing if you have a quarterback controversy because neither guy plays well enough to win a job outright, but it’s a great problem to have when Weber is an experienced starter and he’s being pushed by a really talented freshman.

So for now, Brewster’s absolutely right that they’re in a good position. Fine, but what if Weber struggles early while Gray shines? Will Brewster have the stones to pull his third year starter for the more talented Gray, much like Close-to-theSweater-Vest Jim Tressell did at Ohio State last year when he yanked fifth year senior Todd Boekman for frosh Terrell Pryor? We shall see.

I can tell you right now, getting to see Gray in person is my #1 reason for going on Saturday.

Will the Gophers be able to run the ball?
Further down in that story, we find that the Gophs are scaling back the all-out spread attack for more traditional formations which the team hopes will help run the ball. Because let’s be honest, once the Big 10 sked started last fall, the Maroon and Gold could not run the ball. Teams who do run well out of the spread generally have a VERY athletic quarterback in the mold of Gray who can burn teams with the option or scramble, or they have an awesome workhorse back like Javon Ringer was for Michigan State last year. The Gophers not only had neither of those things (and this is not a knock on Weber- it’s just not his style. He’s certainly not a bad running QB, he’s just not a guy like a Pat White at West Virginia or Pryor at Ohio State who are great runners. Of course Weber is light years ahead of those two throwing), they also had a VERY young offensive line trying to learn an entirely new offense and blocking scheme. In the bowl game we saw a glimpse of the new-old running style, and personally I like it. If Weber is indeed your guy, it plays to his strengths more, it’s more comfortable for your linemen, and now all of your tailbacks have had a year more experience running in the Big 10. Still, we might not learn much Saturday, as it looks like HB’s Duane Bennett and Shady Salamon will be kept out of the scrimmage, and they don’t add freshman four star Texas HB Hasan Lipscomb until the summer.

Will anybody emerge as a viable second receiver behind Eric Decker?
As I understand it, Decker won’t even play in the spring game because he’s playing baseball, and JC transfer Hayo Carpenter doesn’t arrive on campus until August. And you know what? It’s just as well, because every other receiver and tight end on the roster needs every snap they can to gain confidence and help out the Gopher passing game. Ben Kuznia and Brandon Green will be the first two in line, but we’ll see if anyone else can step it up on Saturday.

What Will Become of the Defense?
As expected last year’s Defensive Coordinator Ted Roof took off for greener pastures- it just wasn’t for the head coaching job offer we thought he’d get, but instead to be the DC and linebackers coach at Auburn. He will be missed. In his one season at The U Roof did a complete 180 with a Gopher D that had been one of the worst in NCAA history in 2007 and made them a top 25 unit in 2008. Like the offense, the defense too slipped as the season went along, but part of that can be attributed to the offense completely falling apart, putting all of the pressure on the D to win. Still the D made some huge strides, and we hope can pick up where they left off. Certainly the loss of all-Big 10 DE Willie VanDeSteeg and LB Deon Hightower (among others) to graduation will be huge, but with so many guys from their 2-deep like Big-Play Traye Simmons, Lee Campbell, Marcus Sherels, Tramaine Brock, and Simoni Lawrence returning, there's more than enough talent for the defense to be as good or better than it was last year. And just wait until blue chip super-DB recruit Michael Carter from Florida gets here this fall. This defense is going to be fun to watch.