Monday, November 23, 2009

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

It's not my favorite Tom Petty tune (and probably not even in my top 10. Best Tom Petty song of all time? Has to be Mary Jane's Last Dance. One of the best music videos too, with Kim Bassinger. Do they still make music videos?), but that song title seems to fit the mood after another brutal and embarrassing Gopher shutout loss to Iowa.

Last season's 55-0 drubbing was awful because the game was over almost as soon as it started, and having to sit through four quarters of that was maybe the worst thing I've ever had to endure as a sports fan. Well Saturday's 12-0 loss to Iowa was almost worse, because unlike last year, Iowa was vunerable all game long, our defense played their best game all season, and yet the offense could do absolutely nothing. I texted Jermo midway through the third quarter that "if our D doesn't score a TD, it's over." Sure enough it was, the defense did everything but score, and still, the offense did nothing.

And now comes the tough part: waiting more than a month for another game, having to wonder whether we'll ever score again, and just what the heck is going on with this football team. A few things to ponder while we wait...

...Gopher Hockey outscored Gopher football 2-0 on Saturday.

...the Minnesota defense held Iowa to 171 total yards, just 54 yards rushing at 1.5 yards per rush, and 1-13 on third down. And the Gophers still lost by double digits.

...from that defensive group, we return just two starters next year- zero from the front seven.

...Gopher tailbacks Kevin Whaley and Duane Bennett had 15 carries combined. MarQueis Gray had only seven more.

...despite injuries to two starting receivers, Eric Decker and Brandon Green, juco transfer Hayo! Carpenter did not catch a pass and I do not think even got on the field for an offensive play. Either Carpenter said something very, very bad about Tim Brewster's mom, or perhaps it's time to admit that Hayo! is a bust, and there's a reason so many other schools passed on a kid many were calling the best JUCO wide receiver in the nation last year.

...Adam Weber was 14/40 (35%) for 138 yards (a pathetic 3.8 yards per attempt), and yet backup MarQueis Gray was never allowed to play for more than one play in a row. Despite Weber's struggles all season, Gray was never, ever allowed to play one meaingful series as the quarterback. Not once. Only Brewster and Jed Fisch know why, and neither seems to be saying if they actually have a reason.

...Speaking of Fisch, Brewster brought him in because now former offensive co-ordinator Mike Dunbar's offense wasn't getting it done. Through 12 games Fisch's offense is worse statistically in just about every major category than Dunbar's was in 2007 or 2008. I wish I were kidding (also keep in mind the Gophs only played 12 games in 2007).

Points per game
2007: 26.2
2008: 23.2
2009: 21.6

2007: 42
2008: 38
2009: 32

Offensive Yards Per Game
2007: 407.5
2008: 322.9
2009: 295.8

Rushing Yards Per Game
2007: 161.8
2008: 103.8
2009: 97.6

Yards Per Rush
2007: 4.5
2008: 3.1
2009: 2.9

Rushing TD's
2007: 15
2008: 20
2009: 13

Passing Yards Per Game
2007: 245.8
2008: 219.1
2009: 198.2

Completion Percentage
2007: 57.7%
2008: 62.1%
2009: 51.5%

Interceptions Thrown
2007: 19
2008: 8
2009: 15

3rd Down Conversions
2007: 43%
2008: 35%
2009: 35%

Sacks Allowed
2007: 13-88 yards
2008: 30-200 yards
2009: 39-245

...head coach Tim Brewster, with two years remaining on a five year contract, obviously will not be getting a contract extension just yet. While I think he deserves one more season, if we lose in another bowl game, I'm not going to blame people for who wonder if he deserves a fourth season? Consider he is now 0-9 in trophy games, has not beaten a ranked 1-A opponent, and is 6-18 in the Big Ten in three seasons.

...will Iowa or Penn State bail us out of the Little Caesar's Bowl in Detroit by getting into a BCS game?

...If they do, who from the Big 12 North will we play in the Bowl?

...and will it go any better than the 42-20 drubbing we took from Kansas in that game last year? Then again, could it possibly go any worse?

...oh that's right, we haven't scored an offensive touchdown in eight quarters. I suppose it could.

Finally, the waiting serves as a reminder that there are far worse things in life than a football team with no offense...

Former Ohio State All-American linebacker Chris Spielman is a college football anaylst for ESPN, and usually does the Saturday 11am game as part of a three-man booth, which includes long-time analyst Bob Griese. Spielman was not there for the Gopher/Iowa game, and I wondered if he had been assigned to another game. Turns out the reason is infinitely more tragic: his wife Stefanie passed away last weekend after a long battle with breast cancer (she had beaten the horrible disease four times already). Obviously, our thoughts and prayers go out to Chris and the family. You can also donate online or get more information on how breast cancer research at the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research.

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