September 13, 2007

Big Ten Blogger Roudtable - Part 3

As our friends at Michigan Sports Center prepare for Cripple Fight 2007, they were kind enough to take the time to give us this week's Roundtable discussion questions.

1. Now that two weeks of play are behind us, what is one encouraging surprise and one downing disappointment from your team? (Easy answer to the latter part of the question for Michigan bloggers)

Both parts of this question are rather easy for Gopher fans. I am very encouraged by the play of Adam Weber. The redshirt freshman has played well. In the Bowling Green game things started rough for the entire team and Weber compounded our ineptitude doing things like missing wide open receivers and fumbling the snap following a 58 yard Pinnix run. But what impressed me most was in the 3rd qtr Weber settled down and led the team to a comeback and gave us a chance to win the game.

Game 2 was better yet as he completed 65% of his passes for 271 yards and 4 TD in the air PLUS 98 rushing yards and a TD. This stat line earned him Co-Big Ten Player of the Week honors in only his 2nd start of his career.

Obviously he hasn't faced a Big Ten caliber defense yet but those are encouraging numbers for a kid with 4 years ahead of him. Weber has been more than Gopher fans could have hoped for at this point.

Disappointment? Well that has to be the defense. We should be used to hearing how the defense is going to "get after people" and "fly around the field" this year. All of that is coach-speak for we have no talent, we'll try to create some chaos and hope we don't get burned. We miss tackles at an alarming rate, our DL can't get pressure on the QB, our LBs are too slow and our DBs just can't cover anything. I for one had hoped that this group would be fundamentally better and improved because they returned several starters. But so far the results have been very disappointing. The encouraging thing to me is that the coaching staff isn't trying to convince of anything else. They know we are lacking in talent as shown by 2 true freshmen starting this week vs. Florida Atlantic and when interviewed Brewster talks about the need to bring in more talent through recruiting. Are you listening Willie Mobley?

2. A look at the current Big Ten standings shows things dead-locked record-wise for the most part. Once conference play actually begins, which two or three teams pull away from the rest of the pack?

Penn State and Wisconsin. Then I hope that one of the 2nd tier teams will make a leap and finish 3rd. It is always nice to see someone other than OSU, Mich, etc finish at or near the top. It doesn't look like the Golden Gophers are ready to make a jump to the top 4 but maybe Indiana or Purdue could leapfrog Mich and OSU this year. I know Indiana probably won't but let's all cheer on a super-surprise team in the Big Ten this year.

3. Has your team ever played in a game that was just downright boring and impossible to watch? I ask this because going into the Michigan-Notre Dame game, looking at it on paper, it is shaping up to be one of the ugliest we may see all year.

Many blow out games have been boring over the year but for the most part MN has been entertaining to watch and I see no reason this year will be any different. The last few years we have been able to watch what was hands down the best rushing attack in NCAA football. Barber and Maroney highlighted this recent run of runners and made every game fun to watch. Even before the Mason years the Wacker teams were high scoring and generally entertaining. I remember 1995 Purdue/MN combined for 3 B10 wins but the 39-38 Gopher victory was highly entertaining (Chris Darkins and Mike Alstott combined for 427 yards rushing and 6 TDs). Even in our leanest years most games have been entertaining to watch.

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