Sunday, August 8, 2010

Shhhhhh... I have a secret

I finally admitted it on the phone to my uncle on Friday evening.

I haven't even told Jeffrick yet.

I've really been trying to suppress it, but it bubbled out of me on Friday and for some reason, before the sun rises on this Sunday morning I'm prepared to share it with all of Gopher Nation.  Or at least the dozen or so people that read this blog when they are trying to kill some time.

I blame the media.  They've been printing quotes by Gopher players and coaches and they've seeped into my subconscious.

I blame some of the posters over at Gopher Hole because some of them have been talking about it for months as I lurked quietly back, shaking my head and rarely posting anything in response.

I'm beginning to feel a bit of optimism about this Gopher football team.

There... I said it.

I know, I know, I've been negative for months.  I was annoyed by Adam Weber all of last season.  I was disgusted by our play in the Insight Bowl against Iowa State.  I was skeptical of Brewster's insistence on there really a quarterback competition going on during the spring.

But as actual football is returning to our lives, my attitude toward what we might see on the field this fall is thawing out a bit.  

Here are a few things that I wasn't really thinking clearly about that currently have me a little bit excited.

*Yes, we lost 9 starters on defense.  Yes, that is a staggering number.  And yes, the two starters that ARE returning had an injury (Royston) and a run-in with the law (Theret), during the off-season that put them slightly in doubt for the upcoming fall.

But saying that we lost 9 starters on defense and then automatically assuming that that means this will be a completely inexperienced defense just isn't the case.

Consider that of the 13 games that the Gophers played last season Kim Royston, Kyle Theret, Keanon Cooper, Gary Tinsley,Ryan Collado, Michael Carter, Anthony Jacobs, Jewhan Edwards, D.L. Wilhite and Brandon Kirksey saw playing time in 11 or more of those games, and all are in the discussion to be projected starters this season.

Yes, the defense will be young, but it will also be filled with plenty of guys who have seen significant playing time, albeit not necessarily as starters.

*Jedd Fisch might be a pretty smart offensive game-plan guy, but when it comes to actual coaching he might be an idiot.  This is college football, this isn't the NFL, and by all accounts, Fisch installed an offense for the Gophers last fall that was filled with motion and intricacies that our players just weren't equipped to handle.

Add to that the fact that Fisch (and I'll put at least part of the blame here on Brewster because while Fisch was calling the plays, Brewster is STILL the head coach of this team and when the fish stinks, it stinks at the head) seemed more than willing to abandon the run in games painfully early last season and continually called plays that forced Weber to make throws into the flat (his least comfortable and least successful type of throw), and you begin to see why maybe it's not such a horrible thing that ol' Jedd headed west to try out NFL pastures.  That, and he's an idiot.

I'm not quite prepared to say that I'm super excited for Jeff Horton, but in retrospect, I'm pretty glad that Fisch is gone.  Additionally some of the things that I've been hearing have me at least intrigued about what Horton is doing with Weber and the offense.

Adam Weber, from the PiPress last week:
"We've had only 15 practices with coach Horton so far, but I already know that we're not going to try to trick ourselves," Weber said. "This style of play is more of a traditional style of football. For a while the spread became very popular, and it still is, but this style of play is more suited for the talent we have on our team. For me, I feel most comfortable in the I-formation with play-action fakes and being under center. That's what I was recruited to play. I wish I had more seasons with it."
A couple of things become clear from that quote.  First, Weber isn't in awe of the offense in the sense that it's over his head.  He seems to be comfortable with what is being installed and happy about getting back to something more simple.  Second, Jedd Fisch was an idiot.

Another point is that Weber appears to be in much better health than he was at this time last season.  Looking back, perhaps not enough was made of the fact that Weber was coming off of shoulder surgery and hadn't had the chance to condition in the off-season the way you'd like to heading into a Big Ten football season.

A guy who is confused by the offense he's trying to run and is also not confident in his body is a really good formula for a poor season... which is exactly what Weber had.

I would like nothing better than to see Adam Weber have the kind of season that he had in 2008, and with the  talent that he has around him, this could translate into some very good numbers.

*There are definitely a lot of expectations in place for the 2010 Gopher Football season... fortunately almost all of those expectations are very low.

You cannot find a place anywhere on the internet that predicts the Gophers to finish anywhere but the bottom three in the Big Ten.  In fact, in a completely unscientific research project, funded only by me and fueled by Diet Mountain Dew, I went to The Google, and searched "2010 Big Ten Football predictions." (My research methods are quite advanced, I know.)  Of the articles on the first page of results that actually ranked how they thought the Big Ten would pan out in 2010, EVERY SINGLE ONE predicted the Gophers to finish DEAD LAST in the conference.  (To which my wife replied "'s going to be a painful season.")  Every.  Single.  One.

Call it bulletin board material, call it motivation, call it whatever you want.  The fact is nobody expects us to do jack squat this year, and considering how last season ended, and considering that we lost perhaps the single best player in the history of the program from an offense that was... well, bad, that shouldn't be too surprising.

To quote a line from the Gin Blossoms song "Hey Jealousy": "If you don't expect to much from me, you might not be let down."

So here's to having low expectations... but secretly having a little bit of optimism.

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