August 30, 2007

And you're Golden Gopher QB1 is...

well, you know who it is. I'm not breaking any news that isn't a couple days old, but I'm here to give my 2 cents...

To be honest since Weber signed with the U was never convinced that he would ever play a snap. I have always been impressed with Mortenson and thought Weber was over-hyped. But even though I am often called a great football mind by my friend Eric, I was wrong about Mr. Weber.

So now have a starting QB with 4 full years of eligibility. By my research the last time that we had a freshman QB for most of the season was Ricky Foggie (maybe the only other time). Weber has been redshirted so he isn't completely green, but he is still going to make freshmen mistakes. Bryan Cupito has been on the record saying that Weber will probably break his passing records. If Weber can truly play and is not beat out by a younger, more talented recruit in the next few years he will have the opportunity to put up impressive numbers. He will be directing the "spread-coast" offense which has lead to monster numbers for other QBs under offensive cordinator, Mike Dunbar.

Just for fun lets take a look at some career records that should be put on notice over the next 4 years. Brett Basanez, former Northwestern QB and product of Mike Dunbar started most of his redshirt freshman season and I'll put his numbers up as well. I know that Weber has a LONG way to go to be in Brett's class but even assume 75% production and Adam Weber will finish as the best Golden Gopher to put his hands under the sweaty behind of a 280+ lb man on a regular basis.

  • Career Yardage - Bryan Cupito - 7,446. Weber needs to average 1,862 yards per season. That is 156 yards per game over 4 years. Even as a freshman 200 yards per game isn't out of the question. I don't think we'll see 2,000 this year but he should cut Cupito's record in half in 2 years.
    • Basanez - 10,580 (2,645 per season avg)
  • Passing Attempts - Cory Sauter - 945 - Raise your hand if you fondly remember the Wacker offense. Sauter benefited from this explosive, inept offense and finished with the record for attempts. Under the Spread-Coast Basanez attemted nearly 500 passes in his senior season alone. I don't see 300 attempts for Weber this year but that record will fall before a Big Ten game in his junior season, guaranteed.
    • Basanez - 1,584
  • Touchdown Passes - Asad Abdul-Kaliq / Cupito - 55 - Alex needs 14 per season to hit this one. With Pinnix/Bennett running the ball and our thin group of WRs this may take 3 years to break but it will fall. Ricky Foggie threw 10 TDs as a freshman, but I expect Alex to beat that and have around 42 TDs to go over his final 3 years.
    • Basanez - 44 (really?, I would have expected way more)
  • Completion %, Efficiency Rating and INTs are up to Weber and his decision making skills. Obviously with these there is not an advantage to getting more snaps/games.
That, of course, is a long ways off and a lot has to happen (for instance Weber needs to prove he is starter material and makes it to the Miami(Ohio) game). The season opener should be very interesting to watch if only to see how Weber manages a game, makes decisions and comes back from mistakes (I hope he didn't watch Henig and his 6 INTs for Miss St. Of course Weber is facing the LSU defense but that was ugly). Bowling Green won't be Michigan or Wisconsin but they are a worthy test for a redshirt freshman playing in his first real game at this level.

August 29, 2007

Big Ten Blogger Roudtable - Part 2

Well the roundtable is back, hosted this time by Around the Oval. No need for a big introduction here are the questions and my fascinating answers...

1. Which player from your own team are you most looking forward to watching?

I think the player I am most looking forward to watching is WR-Ernie Wheelwright. From day one I have loved his size and speed, the guy just looks like a big time WR who can take over games (especially at this level). Of course he has never consistently lived up to his ability, which has frustrated the previous coaching staff as well as fans in Gopher Nation. As a freshman Wheelwright racked up 654 yards and 7 TDs, things were looking bright, but his yards and TDs have declined since then finishing last seasons with 26 catches, 437 yards and 5 TDs.

Much has been written about Coach Brewster being "in Ernie's pocket" all spring and summer, trying to squeeze some consistency and big time production out of this guy. Coach Dunbar's offense should be the perfect opportunity for Ernie to step up and be the guy that everyone has thought(hoped) he'd become. I expect big things this year.

2. Which player from another Big Ten team are you most looking forward to watching?

Michigan has a handful of players I'm looking forward to watching but I'm going with the Minnesota angle...

James Laurinaitis - possibly the best defensive player in the country (or some I'm told) and surprisingly he got away from Mason. I didn't take the time to analyze and breakdown most of the other Big Ten teams so I didn't really see Laurinaitis last year. I'm anxious to see how good he is. It will serve as a reminder just how important it will be for Brewster to keep the best MN has to offer in state. I understand the theory that if you can go to OSU or Notre Dame, why would you stay at mediocre Minnesota. But that has to change, Brewster has to build this team up and keep players here.

3. If your team was an action movie star, who would it be?

Action movie star? To me the Golden Gophers are most represented by Charlton Heston (Spartacus counts as action right?). We used to be really good, well respected and considered one of the best. Now we are often comical and not taken very seriously. But I do know that after we beat the Badgers this year you will have to pry Paul Bunyan's Ax from our "cold, dead hands!"

August 28, 2007

Basketball Schedule

The Men's basketball schedule is up. HERE

Down With Goldy has what is likely the first prediction for the 2007-08 season. 14-16 (5-13) is his final assesment.

Tubby is in a unique situation. He has a current team that has all of it's "talent" sitting on the shoulders of his seniors. After this class graduates the cupboard gets VERY bare. I really think that he has a chance to win this year with the current group but he also has to hit the recruiting trail rather hard or next year will be uglier than the Molinari era.

At a quick glance I'm going with an 18-12 season for this team and 9-9 in the Big Ten. I know that it is football season beginning Saturday but I will try to resume my 8 part series on the NEW Golden Gopher Era. Parts 1-4 were FB related and now I'll answer the same questions regarding the basketball program.

August 27, 2007

Blog Poll Week 2

1 Southern Cal --
2 Michigan --
3 LSU --
4 Texas --
5 Oklahoma --
6 Virginia Tech 11
7 Louisville 1
8 Florida 1
9 Wisconsin 3
10 Arkansas 2
11 California 2
12 West Virginia 2
13 Penn State 2
14 Florida State 7
15 Ohio State --
16 Georgia 3
17 Tennessee 3
18 TCU --
19 UCLA 3
20 Nebraska 2
21 Missouri 5
22 Auburn 3
23 Rutgers --
24 Boise State --
25 Hawaii --

Dropped Out: Oregon (#20).

Some points on my new poll...

As stated in my roundtable post, I was wrong on Virginia Tech so you see a big move for the Hokies in my Week 2 Poll. Florida State was more deserved to move up as well.

I mentioned before that I am high on TCU this year and upon further review I am even higher on the Horned Frogs. They will have one of the best defenses in the country, regardless of conference. And I look forward to their game @ Texas in Week 2.

Missouri is new to my poll as Blue Ribbon had several of their offensive players in their pre-season All-Big 12 team and predicted them to win the Big 12 North. They might be a little high, but I'm comfortable with this pick for now.

Teams I'm keeping a close eye on as I'll gladly replace Rutgers, Boise and Hawaii if necessary.
  • Oregon
  • Arizona
  • Texas A&M
  • Alabama
  • Miami
That is my story and I'm stickin to it.

Blog Poll Week 1 Roundtable

As most of you know there are 2 pre-season Blog Polls. This is a great idea so everyone gets to see everyone else's picks, compare them to yours and then re-evaluate. So I am currently working on my week2 poll which may differ from week 1 as I hope to put more research into my picks. But before that I am requires to answer 2 questions...

1. Who is overrated?

I had Arkansas overrated, they will be dropped in my Week 2 poll but not too much. I was trapped by the Heisman hype for McFadden and equated his talent to the overall team's talent. I still anticipate they'll be very good and likely finish 2nd in SEC West, but probably not deserving of a #8 spot on my ballot. I just can't justify it anymore when I see they are returning 10 total starters (only 4 on defense).

Overall I think that South Carolina is overrated on the combined poll. They return 10 on defense but it wasn't a very good defense to begin with. Questions at QB, only 6 returners on Off and the loss of Sydney Rice at WR. I am not on board with this team.

2. Who is underrated?

My poll had Virginia Tech vastly underrated. Upon further review I was wrong, they need to be moved up and should they pull out a W over LSU they very well could be playing for the national title. The Hokies return 16 starters including an experienced QB and All-ACC RB, Brandon Ore. O-line may be a question and an area of needed improvement but it is not an issue so big that I should have them ranked #17 to start the season.

The poll is underrating Louisville. I don't have a lot of respect for the Big East, but I think that Louisville is the team to beat here and only their weak non-conference schedule will keep them out of the BCS Title game. But returning 21 starters is very impressive. More than that though is the return of arguably the best QB in the country, return 2 all-Big East O-linemen and have a very good/reliable kicker which will help in tight games.

I should have my poll done by tomorrow afternoon and up for criticism.

August 25, 2007

Switching to DirecTV yet?

It is not looking good for Comcast customers.

So for those of you ready to switch to DirecTV let me tell you that I have had it for years and love it. I have no complaints. It is the BEST for NCAA Tournament, access to all games at once greatly enhances what is already the best weekend of the year!

If you are ready to switch E-MAIL ME, we both get a credit on our bill!

And yes, this is at blatant attempt to save some money on my satellite bill.

August 23, 2007

What the heck?

So Nate Garth is re-opening his recruitment? This seems odd as he has sounded excited to be a Gopher and play for Tubby. He wanted to coincide his official visit with Sampson and Iverson to help them make a decision for the U. Then he reopens?

He hates Paul Carter? - doubtful
He is intimidated by Kevin Payton and Al Nolen Jr? - that's crazy
Somebody informed him that it is cold in MN in the winter? - duh!
Tubby has another (better) PG that is about to commit? - I hope so

This whole thing seems odd to me, but I have no reason to not trust Tubby and staff. Hopefully they know what they are doing and have a plan.

RECAP of the last week...

LOST - Bryce Webster
GAIN - Paul Carter
LOST - Nate Garth

not sure how that equation ends up but we'll find out.


Fox Sports has their Big Ten preview up today (it may have been out for a while but my browser says it was updated 16 min ago, but whatever that's not the point). It predicts Wisconsin to win the Big Ten, Minnesota will make a Bowl, yada, yada, yada. Here is what I'm tired of hearing...

5 Non-Conference Games the Big Ten had better take, very, very seriously

1-4 - blah, blah, blah

5. North Dakota State at Minnesota, Oct. 20 — (You're still laughing ... it took a blocked kick for the Gophers to avoid being upset by the Bison last year.)

I am so tired of hearing about this. Last year result has nothing to do with this year for many reasons. And the Gophers will handily beat the Bison this year.
  1. What happened last season was last season, this is true for every team throughout the country. Here is a quote from Bielema about getting caught up in last year while preparing for this year.
    "Bielema is careful about getting caught up in what happened last year, a reflection of the lessons from his mentors. "One of the first things you learn in the coaching profession is that any wins last year don't carry forward, and neither do any losses," said Bielema."
    I don't care about only winning because of a blocked FG, that has no bearing on winning this year or not. If anything last year's result will only help Minnesota to come to the game ready to play and end this talk.
  2. This is a new team with a new attitude which comes from a new coaching staff. I think the smugness and arrogance of Mason rubbed off on his players and they came to the game prepared to roll over the Bison. The Bison came in juiced and ready to play their best game of the year (which they did).
  3. Almost winning does not equal winning.
  4. The Golden Gophers have to be insulted exponentially more than I am.
BOLD PREDICTION - Minnesota will come prepared and destroy the Bison. This will be a statement game that we are still the big boys around here. Enjoy your near win and rack up your 1AA wins but not this year and not in our house.

August 22, 2007

We Will Make History Again

check out the new Golden Gopher Football video on the U of M's website.

Bring on the season, it is a new era! (I hope)

We have a basketball commitment!

Paul Carter - PF/SF - has committed to Tubby and staff. Carter is an redshirted JUCO freshman and will have 3 years of eligibility for the Golden Gophers. At 6'8" he will fill a need in the paint, but at 190 lbs he won't be a banger or likely a strong post defender. Carter's JUCO coach says he will remind Gopher fans of Quincy Lewis. That is a good thing and a bad thing. We like guys who can score but we also lose all of our inside presence after this season and a thin PF/SF will only help so much.

You can watch Paul play this year as Missouri State-West Plains will be playing Mpls CC on Nov 24th. Get your tickets now.

Ultimately this is a good thing as we need size (vertically and horizontally) and help scoring beginning next season. Here is a look at what we can expect the 2008-09 roster to look like (my projected starters in bold)...

Jamal Abu-Shamala - Sr
Kevin Payton - Jr
Lawrence Westbrook - Jr
Blake Hoffarber - So
Nate Garth - RsFr
Al Nolen - RsFr

Brandon Smith - Sr
Travis Busch - Sr
Damien Johnson - Jr
Paul Carter - So

Jonathan Williams - Sr

Reports are that on Sept 7th we will have 2 official visits from a couple big men. Ralph Sampson III (6'11", 220) and Colton Iverson (6'9", 240) will both be on campus. This is a big date landing 1 of these young guys is a must and both would be very good. Sampson leads my recruit wish list, but Iverson will fill a need. I'd love to see these guys starting along side each other in a couple years.

August 21, 2007

Virgin Blog Poller

Well, I have submitted my first blog poll. Please rip my picks and tell me why I'm such an idiot. I am MUCH more knowledgeable on college basketball but I'm anxious for this FB season and looking forward to expanding my expertise on the best fall sport around.

1 Southern Cal 25
2 Michigan 24
3 LSU 23
4 Texas 22
5 Oklahoma 21
6 Louisville 20
7 Florida 19
8 Arkansas 18
9 California 17
10 West Virginia 16
11 Penn State 15
12 Wisconsin 14
13 Georgia 13
14 Tennessee 12
15 Ohio State 11
16 UCLA 10
17 Virginia Tech 9
18 TCU 8
19 Auburn 7
20 Oregon 6
21 Florida State 5
22 Nebraska 4
23 Rutgers 3
24 Boise State 2
25 Hawaii 1

Dropped Out:

Before I get ripped too much I feel compelled to defend myself.
  1. Michigan at #2? - YES, and I did this for 2 reasons. First of all Brian at MGO Blog runs this prestigious blog poll and I am clearly sucking up. Secondly, Michigan returns some serious weapons at several skill positions. Hart, Manningham, Henne and Long are all NFL talent. USC is clearly the team to beat but all other teams have holes, Michigan does too but their strengths are too much to keep them down. Also they have just about all of their tough games at home (Ohio State, Penn, State, Minnesota, etc.). I think they'll be the underdog to USC in the BCS title game.
  2. After Michigan so tough on Big 10 - Yes, I think this will be a tough year on the Big Ten. OSU is down, I think the loss of Stocco will be bigger than anticipated for Wisconsin and Penn State might be the clear 2nd best team but they are not unbeatable.
  3. TCU is my sleeper - they will be this year's Rutgers.
  4. High on QBs and therefore Pac-10 - I think that QBs in college FB are much more important than at the NFL level (see Grossman in Chicago, Dilfer in Bal, etc.). I don't care what kind of hype surrounds the incoming QBs at OSU, LSU, Flor, Wis, Notre Dame, Nebraska, etc, they are still virgin hands under their respective center's butt. This is why I have several Pac-10 teams ranked higher than averaged. USC (duh), Oregon, UCLA and Cal. Usually I think any team after USC is vastly overrated, but this might be a strong year for the Pac-10.
That is enough justification for now, more to come on a weekly basis.

August 17, 2007

Bryce Webster is gone (plenty of Scholarships now available!)

I'm sure that most of you know Bryce Webster has been granted a release from the basketball team. This has been rumored for several weeks and most saw this coming. PJS has also commented on this situation, but I feel compelled to throw in my 2 cents.

While Bryce was ineffective (very) last season, this will impact the program. We lose several important players with the 2007-08 senior class, biggest (pun intended) of all are frontcourt players Spencer Tollackson and Dan Coleman. We have razor thin depth at all positions but there is at least there is marginal hope or potential with a few G/F's. Incoming freshman Hoffarber, incoming recruit Nate Garth, Junior-Brandon Smith have some potential, and I hold out marginal hope for Kevin Payton and Damien Johnson to at least contribute at the Big Ten level.

None of those five can play the 4 or 5 so there is a MAJOR problem that will hit this program very soon. I know Tubby is working hard to land a big man or two, BUT he hasn't landed anybody yet and we should all be concerned.

NCAA rules allow each D1 program to have 13 scholarships. Next year's club should have the following players on scholarship...

  • Graduating 2008-09
    • Smith - G/F
    • Abu-Shamala - SG
    • Williams - C
  • Graduating 2009-10
    • D. Johnson - SF
    • Payton - PG
    • Westbrook - G
  • Graduating 2010-11
    • Hoffarber - SG
    • Nolan - PG
  • Graduating 2011-12
    • Garth - G
I'm assuming that Busch is not on scholarship and we can all hope that Abu-Shamala will have to forfeit his schollie for a legit basketball player before he graduates, it was awfully generous of Monson to pay for Jamal's education this year.

That leaves 4 scholarships available (maybe 5 if Jamal's isn't renewed). And 7 over the next 2 years. Tubby and staff are working hard on bringing in some big men and rumor has it that they are working the JUCO circuit pretty hard.

I'm enjoying the recruiting process for Brewster and the football team. But I would say that the basketball recruiting stories are MUCH more critical to immediate success.

This isn't a recruit post, but the Webster release is going to loom bigger than the collective yawn it has received from Gopher Nation. As I already stated, we have razor thin depth in the frontcourt and at this point we will be heading into the following season with Jonathan Williams as our only player to man the paint and the only player on the team over 6'7". That should scare you very much!

August 14, 2007

Gopher Nation quick hitters

There has been a minor explosion of newsworthy items in Gopher Nation.

Hockey - I don't see Gopher Puck's comments on this yet but the hockey team has lost it's 3rd underclassman defenseman to the NHL. Jim O'Brien has signed with Ottawa and will play on their minor league team in Seattle. O'Brien was a forward last year as a freshman and finished with 7 goals and 8 assists. He was scheduled to move to defense for his sophomore season. I am not familiar enough with the roster or incoming recruits to know who will see an increase in their minutes.

Men's Basketball - the Big Ten schedule has been released. As many of you know the schedule is expanding from 16 to 18 games meaning there will not be just 2 teams that you will play only one time. The Gophers will miss Purdue and Iowa a 2nd time around. Not quite as nice a missing Wis, OSU or Indiana but there isn't much you can do about it. Home games against Mich, Ind and Iowa will be on ESPN. The home Ohio State game on March 1st (or 2nd) potentially could be on CBS.

Football - we all know that fall practice has begun. Brewster and crew have returned from Collegeville and have now begun two-a-days. Recruiting has been uber-interesting this summer as TBrew is trying to drastically upgrade the overall talent on the team. By all accounts there will be a handful of true freshmen who will contribute (if not start) for your 2007 Golden Gophers. HERE is a relatively current depth chart.

Volleyball - one of the many minor sports that the Gophers have excelled at in recent years. Volleyball is a West Coast sport and Minnesota (along with Penn State and Nebraska) is one of the teams east of California who can compete with anybody. The most recent recruiting class was ranked 4th in the nation, behind Stanford, Texas and USC. This marks the third time in five seasons they have had a top 5 recruiting class. Their season open Aug. 24 vs. Notre Dame as these women try to improve on their NCAA Regional appearance from last year.

Here are some general NCAA Football newsworthy items...

ESPN "expert" Picks - ESPN weighs in on conference champ predictions as well as BCS Champs. It looks like the nation is fighting for 2nd as USC was the unanimous favorite and pretty much the entire Big Ten is fighting for 2nd behind Michigan. Also noteworthy is that Bowling Green is the most common pick as MAC East Champ with Miami(Ohio), another Gopher opponent, also getting some votes as MAC-E champ.

Sunday Morning QB - with their Big Ten preview, yet another expert picking the Golden Gophers to not even finish in the top 10 of the Big Ten!

The Hawkeye Compulsion - this is a great interview, story with Ron Zook.

Michigan Sports Center says 2007 National Championship or BUST!

Buckeye Banter's Big 10 Preview - last place for the gophers, AGAIN