Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Let it Begin! LET IT BEGIN!!!

If you haven't seen the movie Bolt then you either a) don't have kids or b) you're an adult who wouldn't watch kids movies and you have no idea who Rhino the hamster is. Shame on you. I don't have kids yet I saw this movie with my wife and her family and thought it was hilarious. Rhino, a hilarious hamster who is always very excited and looking for adventure, was my favorite character. As he's being held from a bridge over a moving train, he's so excited he can't contain himself yelling "LET IT BEGIN! LET IT BEING!"

Well today is the first day of Gopher football spring practice and I feel exactly like Rhino: I'm very excited, and spring practice, if nothing else, will definitely be an advernture. I cannot wait for it to begin!

As you know by now, and as Kent Youngblood examines in a Strib story today, there's a LOT of competition going on for the Gophs. Hence the adventure. We assume the returning offensive starters could keep their jobs, but with a new offensive coordinator in Jeff Horton, and a horrible offensive performance, in 2009, I would hope nothing is set in stone. Defensively nothing is a given except for the two returning starters at safety in Kim Royston and Kyle Theret. Otherwise, we need nine new starters and there should be quite the battle royale for those spots.
Out of all the competition and adventure this spring will bring, there's some position battles I'm more excited about than others. All of them are important, but in some cases we're not going to get much for concrete evidence other than the usual coach-speak and high praise for how good this guy or that guy looks and has performed- even if it's just tying his shoe laces. Or maybe Horton will be a breath of fresh air and give us an honest assessment of what's going on with his offense instead of the Goodyear Blimp full of hot air and positivity we usually get from Tim Brewster.

Maybe Horton, unlike Brewster, will also give us a taste of reality, or at least an idea that he's living in it (in fairness to Brewster, he's finally, like in this interview with Adam Rittenberg, admitting his offense suckd last year and they need to get better. Still, he did nothing to make changes during last season, especially at quarterback, when it was clear to everyone else that what he and Jed Fisch were trying to do was not working). Maybe you haven't heard, but our offense stunk last year, and third year starter Adam Weber was a big reason why. The PP's Marcus Fuller rehashes a difficult 2009 for Weber and the points we've discussed here ad naseum. Last spring game Jer and I watched Adam Weber have a so-so game while MarQueis Gray looked like Peyton Manning zipping the ball all over the field...and of course none of that translated to the field for the 2009 season. Well, ok Weber's struggles did, but don't tell Tim Brewster that as he did absolutely nothing last year to motivate or replace his clearly struggling signal-caller.

I still think there's a better chance of Rod Blagojevich admitting he deserved to get canned as Governor of Illinois on Celebrity Apprentice (I can't get enough of that show and think The Gov is hilarious because it's hard to believe a man who acts that clueless could run a state. However I also can't stand The Donald and think his annoying kid Donnie is the worst kind of silver spoon, trust-fund d-bag. Honestly Donnie, I know daddy has given you everything you've ever wanted and you've never had to earn anything, but really, can't you at least get your own hairstyle? At least The Donald's daughter is intelligent and acts like she could run a business regardless of who her father is) than there is of anyone other than Weber starting the season at quarterback, but hey, there's always a chance right? All I can hope for is marked improvement from Weber, Gray, AND Moses Alipate, and that Horton simplifying the offense helps everyone's confidence.

So I don't think we're going to learn much at all about our quarterbacks, and really, we're not going to learn much about any of the skill position guys until we start playing real games. As far as I know, none of the freshmen running backs are showing up until the summer and I don't see any of the freshmen receivers pushing for much playing time, so it's going to be the same cast of characters we saw last year. And just as it was with the QB's last spring, no matter how good our backs and receivers look this next month, we're not going to know how good they really are until the line up for the opener against Middle Tennessee State on September 2nd.

But for the rest of the team? Oh yeah, we're going to learn some things. By 1:30 p.m. April 24 at TCF Bank Stadium for the spring game, we're going to see and start to know who the coaches trust and who has really put in the work in the offseason. O-line coach Tim Davis has been raving about 6'7 redshirt freshmen Brooks Michel and Ed Olson, but are those kids ready to push our incumbent starters (good lord I hope so)? Who's going to get the bulk of the snaps at tight end? Is redshirt frosh and four star recruit Ra'Shede Hageman (who is still listed at TE at 272 pounds, and who Brewster has said is up to 292!!!!) start? Who's going to start across the defensive line? How are the linebackers looking? Especially Sam Maresh? Will Michael Carter look as fast and as good as we hope? Is anyone going to push Ryan Collado out of the 2nd corner spot?

While I'm not expecting to learn much about our skill position guys, it's going to be a lot of fun learning about everyone else. Practice starts today, and as Rhino says: LET IT BEGIN! LET IT BEGIN!!

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