Thursday, January 28, 2010

It Might Get Loud

I finally watched the documentary of that title last night, and it was definitely worth the wait. If you're a fan of the guitar, or rock music in general, you NEED to find it and watch it. It's freaking amazing!

I bring this up not only so I have an excuse to talk about the movie and music, but because after giving it some thought, I see a similarity between my feelings about that movie and my feelings about the Gopher offense. No really.

I love so much of that movie and so much about our Gopher offense, yet there's a glaring discrepancy I see in both: in the movie it's the fact director Davis Guggenheim chose to have U2's The Edge involved at all, and for the offense, it's that Brewster stubbornly wanted to keep an offense that didn't work with the talent we have at quarterback, and therefore netted us Jeff Horton as an OC. While I don't agree with either decision, and wish each "director" would have made a different choice, after watching It Might Get Loud (especially the deleted scenes and the interview from the Toronto Film Festival) I understand a little more on why the decisions were made. And since it's impossible to remove The Edge from that movie or Jeff Horton and a pro-style offense from the Gophers, it's helping me learn to live with it.

For what I loved about the movie, well, I'm currently a Jack White freak, with a man-crush that borders on obsession. I have no clue how to play the guitar and probably never will, but I think (and believe even more so after watching the movie) that Jack White is a musical genius. I love rock n roll and love the blues, and to hear what Jack does with both of those things just blows my mind. The White Stripes are my second favorite band on the planet- the Tragically Hip always and forever will be first. As an aside, do you have what Jermo calls "A holy trinity" of bands? Back in college he and his buddy Chris came up with that name of three bands that will always and forever be your favorites. We each had our three, and yet, and at least for me, two of the three have changed. Mine used to be the Hip, Dave Matthews Band, and another Canadian band called Our Lady Peace. As much as I still love Dave's old stuff, I've stopped listening and buying his music since the "Everyday" album. I bought the Stand Up album, listened to it once, hated every single second of it, then either threw it out or took it to Cheapo. I don't remember which, I just know I don't have it anymore. Our Lady Peace was like our little secret, an awesome rock band that nobody down here really knew about. They pumped out six great albums, and then the lead singer started dating some hippy chick, the music turned political, and they were done. There's nothing wrong with starting as a political band- Bob Dylan, U2, Rage etc- but it seems like the ones who end up getting there later in their career end up sucking. Maybe it's me. So at this point, I'm not even sure who my holy trinity of bands would be- the Hip, White Stripes and...?

Ok what was I talking about again? Oh yeah, my Jack White obsession. You get the idea. Jimmy Paige? Only the greatest living guitar player and a musical legend. I know it's really unoriginal to say Led Zeppelin is the best rock band of all-time, but I mean really, they probably are. I love their music and to get to hear Jimmy still rockin' today in the movie, as well as get a lot of background on how he started and what his influences were, was fantastic.

For the Gopher offense, like Jermo I am clinging steadfastly to the belief that we have talent. We definitely have talent at QB, and I'm hoping we see more of it from Adam Weber, and better opportunities for MarQueis Gray. I also know Moses Alipate was a well-respected high school recruit from Bloomington, who might just be the pro-style passer this offense needs. In any case, lack of talent at quarterback is not an issue. Running back? We certainly don't have the world's best runners, but if they'd actually have some decent holes to run through instead of having defenders meet at, or behind, the line of scrimmage they could actually be pretty could. And assuming (I'm crossing my fingers AND my toes as I type this) we don't lose anymore commits between now and Wednesday, I like the prospects of all three freshmen running backs we're bringing in.

Wideouts? Gobs of talent and tons of potential. I believe DaJon McKnight can be our go-to guy with more experience and more reps. Nobody has more potential than Troy Stoudermire with blazing speed and a knack for big plays...he just needs to learn how to catch the ball. Brandon Green should be a good possession receiver, Bryant Allen looked good for a freshman, and I still believe Hayo! Carpenter can contribute something as a senior. Add to that big-time incoming freshmen like James Green and Chris Hawkins and...oh that's right, ok nevermind. Still, our returning group should be ready for a breakout.

The offensive line I'm not crazy about, but I maintain we have talented kids there. Maybe/hopefully all they need is an offseason of workouts, reps, and a little seasoning and they'll start performing better. We certainly don't lack for size and strength up there, we just need them to start producing!

So much to love about IMGL and the Gopher offense and yet...each has a major flaw as I see it: The Edge and Jedd Fisch's pro-style offense.

Before I talk about The Edge, let me say this: I like U2. "Where the Streets Have No Name" is not only my favorite U2 song, but it's one of my favorite songs by any band ever. U2 have stayed together for 30+ years and is still cranking out decent music. It's unprecedented really. The Edge is a quality guitar player and a big part of their success, but he does not belong on a stage or a movie with Jimmy and Jack. He just doesn't.

Jimmy and Jack's talents are, well, talent. The Edge's is technology, and making the same three or four chords and notes sound different with computers. Whoopty doo! As the movie went on anytime The Edge came on both my wife and I were thinking and eventually saying "Stop talking The Edge, and stop playing with your computers and your three chords and show us the crazy amazing cool **** Jimmy and Jack are doing!!!!" Again, both of us are U2 fans (more for the old stuff in the 1980's and Achtung Baby but still), but we just couldn't understand how The Edge was in this movie and seemingly getting more air time than Jimmy or Jack!!!

(And since I know you're wondering who I would have replaced him with, the answer is simple and obvious: Slash. If you're doing a documentary on the electric guitar, and you want to include a guy who goes by a stage name and is one of the best guitarists alive, it had to be Slash. Had to be. And yet it wasn't.)

Similarily, while I love the talent we have on the Gopher offense, I thought the 2009 season was a pretty good indicator that Brewster made a bad choice in hiring Jedd Fisch for this "project" and that his offense was wrong. Good system with the right people maybe, but with quarterbacks whose strengths are running, throwing the ball deep, and making plays on roll-outs and play-action? Yeah not so much. And yes despite the glaring failures of 2009, Brewster was adament about keeping the system. So much so, promising guys with bright futures were passed up (in this scenario, we'll say Josh Heupel is our Slash) so we could take someone the coach loved and who could be sold to some fans as a QB guru (much the same way the director clearly loves The Edge and can be sold to the throngs of U2 fans).

People have stated in the comments here and on the other fine Gopher sites that bringing in yet another OC with yet another new system would spell disaster, to which I counter that your top two QB's, and most of your offensive players, have played in spread systems before. A new guy with spread tendancies (like, oh I don't know, JOSH HEUPEL?!?!?) is going to do similar things to what Mike Dunbar tried to do with his version of the spread two years ago. A different system? Yes. Completely foreign to our offensive players? Absolutely not.

I disagree with the decisions Guggenheim and Brewster made, and because I'm stubborn, will always believe my way (Slash and Josh Heupel) would have worked better.

Still, because we're living in reality, I know I'm not going to get my way. While it's always fun to whine and complain and take cheap shots (which I would never, ever stoop to. Ok, that's probably not true), perhaps trying to understand the rationale behind it can help me come to grips with the decisions. I'm not going to agree with it, but at least if I understand why a decision is made I'll have an easier time accepting it. The reason for both decisions? Continuity.

I understood the choice of The Edge much better after watching the interview with the cast and crew at the Toronto Film Festival (which is included in the extras on the DVD). Those in charge explained that Jimmy, Jack, and The Edge were their top three choices because they had different styles, spanned different eras, and that they also got along really, really well. It ended up working really, really well for the movie when the three of them met and talked and jammed on a sound stage. Is Slash a better guitarist than The Edge? Yep, he is, but would his personality have worked for the movie, and would he have gotten along or cared he was on stage with Jimmy and Jack? Maybe, maybe not. I see now how The Edge worked in cohesion and continuity with the other two guys, and how his different take and style on the electric guitar added a different element to what Jimmy and Jack brought. I would still have chosen Slash, but I understand why The Edge was chosen, and that he accomplished what the director wanted.

I've heard Tim Brewster use the word "continuity" way too much in the past couple of months, yet after watching IMGL, I understand a little more why he does. Like me, Brewster believes there's talent on his offense, but unlike me, he believes all they need to be effective is more time, more reps, and some of that good old fashioned continuity. He believes that Weber and Gray and the running backs and the receivers and, most importantly, the offensive line just needs more time together doing more of the same things to be better. He believes that more time in the same offense makes everybody more comfortable and therefore better when working together. He believes that if the line blocks and the backs churn out yardage that Weber will have more time and will make better throws, making easier catches for our receivers (I believe Weber couldn't complete a timing pattern if his life depended on it no matter how much time he had, but that's me).

Guggenheim and Brewster believe continuity was the best way to achieve success on their chosen projects. While I disagree with the inclusion of The Edge, IMGL was certainly a success and the scenes with the three guitarist are all pretty amazing. So I'm hoping that while I disagree with how Brewster is going about trying to achieve success with his offensive project, that like Guggenheim, continuity will be the key to his success.


Jeremy said...

My trinity was OLP, DMB and Pearl Jam. I've soured on Pearl Jam a bit, same with OLP, but the last DMB album was a very nice comeback. You really need to give it a shot... it's 10x better than Everyday, even though I didn't hate Everyday nearly as much as you did.

Jeremy said...

And hopefully we can all just go ahead and agree that the Stand Up album never really happened. That was just a really horrible rumor.