September 27, 2007
I encourage everyone to check out TCSportZone. We talked a little Gopher Football this evening as we get into the teeth of the Big Ten Season.
Nate - from TCSZ had a recent article Life in a Gopher Hole which doesn't exactly paint a rosey picture for the rest of the 2007 season, but I guess there hasn't been a lot of reason for optimism.
Excellent site and check out the podcast link above.
September 26, 2007
Week 5 of the roundtable and a very good set of questions by Lake the Post (Northwestern blog). I know everyone eagerly anticipates my answers so I won't keep you waiting any longer...
1. Michigan turned to Russell Crowe (successfully). ND went with Regis (unsuccessfully). Imagine your team is in desperate need of a pregame pep talk (no imagination needed at NU). You can bring in anyone in the world. Who do you turn to and why?
Well, the obvious answer would be to bring in a famous alum. Tony Dungy is a worthy candidate since you know he just won the Super Bowl, Barber/Maroney could come and share why their NFL success is because of their time in Minnesota or even former gopher QB, Sandy Stephens the 1962 Rose Bowl MVP. But lets go with someone from outside the program.
I'm going with Bill Murray. I know this clip is about killing gophers but a Varmit will never quit! Varmit-Cong!
And that's all she wrote!
2. What perception about your program is perpetuated to the point where it is your pet peeve? Why does it bother you so much (no, the answer does not have to be an alliteration)?
In this case perception is pretty close to reality. We are mediocre. Our defense is terrible. We haven't been to the Rose Bowl in 45 years.
But I guess the perception that you cannot win at Minnesota annoys me. Too many professional teams here hinder the passion of the fan base, it's a hockey state, it's a basketball school, there isn't enough local talent to sustain a college program, yada, yada, yada. These are excuses and there are just as many positives here as there are negatives. The right coach CAN win at Minnesota. Is that Tim Brewster? Way too early to tell but at least he's attacking the program's challenges head on with the intent to overcome.
3. It is only week 5 of the season, but you've been asked to create your team's highlight reel for the season. You get to choose one song. What is it and why?
I'm sticking with the Caddyshack theme. This is just a short clip, the song is of course "I'm All Right" by the great Kenny Loggins!
This isn't exactly a banner year for gopher football, but things are looking bright for the future. I like what Brewster is doing, I like our young offense and I think the talent level here will be better sooner rather than later.
I'm listening to Dan Barreiro's interview of Glen Mason (9/20 podcast on KFAN). Really these quotes speak for themselves...
"I used to say at Minnesota all the time, if you ever see us in the top 10 in USA Today recruiting we're cheating."He continues to astound me with his defeatist attitude, especially when it comes to recruiting. The quotes just demonstrate to me why he was incapable of taking Minnesota beyond a middle of the pack Big Ten team. He did a great job of taking the Golden Gophers from a bottom 3 team to a low level bowl team (which he reminded us all in the interview as well), but he didn't seem to have any desire to take the program to another step.
"There's no palm trees there, there are no mountians, there's not an ocean and it's cold during the winter."
Hard to win when your recruiting pitch is something like this..."it's cold here, we have nothing except the Mall of America, we play in a crappy stadium BUT you'll get the chance to play on a mediocre football team that used to be the worst in the conference." Just sign here.
Isn't it funny how the lack of ocean and mountains hasn't prevented Brewster from getting commitments from states like Florida (3), Texas (2) and Colorado (2) in just under 10 months on the job at MN? And there are many more that have the gophers among their top choices but they are yet to commit.
"The state of Minnesota produces some really good football players. But not the abundant number that states like Ohio, Texas, Florida and California did and those are the teams (along with Notre Dame) that have the ability to recruit those types of players."There is truth to that, but the problem was he was incapable of keeping any of those "really good football players" here. Nobody is denying that you have to supplement in state recruits with plenty of good players from around the country but this team would look a LOT better if you add a few local players like...
- James Laurinitus - LB - Ohio State
- John Carlson - TE, Notre Dame
- Trevor Laws - DT, Notre Dame
- Nate Swift - WR, Nebraska
- Brandon Robinson - WR, Boston College
- several OL around the country (Murtha-Neb, Coleman-Wis, Carufel-ND)
This post is meant to be less about Mason and more about Brewster. His attitude of 'we are going to have great recruiting classes' and 'we are going to contend for the Big Ten championship' are so much more refreshing than 'it is so hard to recruit here' and 'remember how bad it was before, you should be happy with 4-4 and an occasional 5-3'.
I don't know for sure if Brewster is the guy to get us there but I'm certain Mason was not. Give me a guy who will accentuate the positives rather than dwell on the negatives any day. Brewster will give us a shot at winning in the future, I have no doubt.
September 24, 2007
This is the first installment of Get to Know your Gopher Recruit! This is a chance for Gopher Nation to learn a little bit about the guys Tim Brewster and staff are recruiting (either committed or uncommitted). I'll start with an easy one but he is the biggest target for coach Brewster.
Pos - WR
Rivals Ranks - 4-Star, 56th overall, 8th among WRs
Home - St. Paul, MN (Cretin-Derham Hall)
Size - 6'3", 210
40 time - 4.55
Status - uncommitted
Top schools - rumored to be Notre Dame, Ohio State, Minnesota, Michigan and others
What you need to know....
Floyd is a BIG TIME recruit. Coach Brewster has stated over and over how important it is to keep the best of Minnesota in Minnesota. Well Floyd is the best in town. He is taking a wait and see approach to coach Brewster and the new Gopher program. Floyd's high school team is 4-0 and he scored 2 TDs last Friday night as the Raiders beat Stillwater 42-14. Floyd also returned punts/kicks and played a few snaps at CB. Floyd is a great athlete and a game changer it would be a great GET for coach Brewster and staff.
"Sometimes you have to remind yourself not to try to be too smart," Raiders coach Mike Scanlan said. "You have to remember we have one of the best players in the country to get the ball to."
Why should he consider...
- He'd be a hero! Floyd could set a precedent for future high school studs in this state and most importantly he could be a catalyst that would help return the Golden Gophers to competitiveness. If Floyd goes to OSU, ND or Mich he is one of a handful of great players. If he has a dominating career he'll still be one in a long line of great WRs. At Minnesota he will have every opportunity to be one of Gopher all time greats.
- Spread Coast Offense - Obviously the Gophers are sitting at 1-2 currently and the defense is struggling mightily. But hopefully Floyd can see the fun this offense is having and the opportunity for a talented WR to put up big numbers and contribute right away.
- Adam Weber - Weber appears to be a very good young QB. He will be a reliable arm who will be able to get the ball to Floyd. I hope he sees the promise as Weber will be Floyd's QB for 3 years and together they will lead a high powered offense.
- Win Championships - Ohio State will be in the race for the Big Ten every year and likely will be in the BCS race at least 2 of Floyd's years in Columbus. Notre Dame and Michigan could also be in the BCS picture at any point in the near future.
- National Exposure - multiple games on national TV, big time bowl games and a history of putting multiple players into the NFL. This obviously applies to any of the other schools.
- Charlie Weis - considered an offensive guru and should be able to put Floyd in position to succeed each and every week.
- Better Defenses - Floyd has expressed that being able to go up against quality defensive backs every day in practice is important to him. He wants to be pushed every day and go up against the best to that he'll continue to get better and better.
Floyd has to be Brewster's top priority. Not only because Floyd is very talented but because it would set a precedent for future prospects from this state. It would give Brewster a notch in his belt and someone who can help him keep the best home (Lauranaitis, John Carlson, Lyndon Murtha, Matt Carufel, etc). Brewster is setting out to prove he can recruit, close the MN boarders and then win ball games.
Ultimately I am going to be surprised if Floyd comes to Minnesota. Indications are that Ohio State is his leader. Notre Dame seemed to right up there, but hopefully their recent struggles put them on par with Minnesota. I think we are in his top 3 but Brewster has his work cut out for him. I'm just not convinced we'll get a hometown discount here.
- Defense really only gave up 10 first half points. Moral victory? Maybe. We all expected the Purdue offense to gash this defense for 4 quarters. Really it was 1 drive in the first qtr and then the entire 2nd half. 2 TDs in the first half are directly the responsibility of Adam Weber and the kickoff coverage.
- Stupid Fumbles- Which was worse Amir's fumble at the 12 or Jamal's blocked FG for a TD (hold on there). If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn't have...well OK I would have. This is just something that doesn't happen to winning programs. Jamal's TD could have dramatically altered the course of the 2nd half. But he fumbled and it didn't.
- Let's start the games 0-21 - I think we need that 3 TD deficit to get us going so maybe if we had 4 qtrs instead of 2 we'd be just fine.
- Duane Bennett - If Pinnix is going to continue his costly fumbles, and Bennett is going to continue to run like he did then give the kid the ball. Duane looked very good and I look forward to his running over the next 4 years.
- Young offense is still good - Take a look, we have freshmen starting (or major contributor) at QB, RB, WR and OG. Sophs at OG and WR. Only 3 seniors are starting (assuming Pinnix no longer starts) and this offense is able to put up 31 points on a good (not great) Big Ten team.
- Game highlights.
- Simoni Lawrence - despite giving up 45 points and losing, the coaching staff was still able to convince at least 1 of this week's recruits visiting to commit. I'll post more later on Lawrence but he is a DB/OLB, JUCO kid who will have 3 seasons to play for the Golden Gophers.
- Another big recruiting weekend - Playing Ohio State may or may not help with recruits watching but this is another weekend full of recruits taking their official visits. Big names like Ryan Bass (RB), Keanon Cooper (S), Marqueis Gray (QB), Jewhan Edwards (DT), Brandon Green (WR) and Spencer Reeves (LB) will be here. The Purdue game had several nice recruits as well and hopefully another commit or two will come our way this week.
- Offensive Recruits - this offense has been rather productive and looks fun to be a part of. It is spread and gives a lot of players a chance to contribute in the passing game. But it is also committed to running so OL and RBs can have some fun too. I would imagine high school offensive players would appreciated this offense and what it can offer them.
- Defensive Recruits - this defense is taking a beating but any defensive recruit out there has to see this as an opportunity to come in and play as soon as they are ready.
Here is my updated Blog Poll. I still feel pretty good about my first 11, but like I said last week after that it is full of teams that deserve to be a few spots lower. Here are some other random thoughts...
- South Florida - I'm getting on their bandwagon. I watched parts of their romp over UNC and they looked very good and very fast. USF fans should be warned that I was also on the TCU bandwagon and I thought Virginia Tech was a top 5 team.
- Arizona State - came in at 25th over a team like Cincy or Mich St because of a nice comeback over Oregon St. Down 0-19 they won the rest of the game 44-13.
- Louisville - man have they fallen. I loved the Cuse TD where the safety and corner covered the WR down the sideline but left the guy down the middle seam WIDE open.
- #s 26+ - Michigan State, Cincinatti, UCLA
Week 4 Standings...
|1||The Nittany Line||41|
|3||Michigan Sports Center||40|
|4||Run Up the Score||39|
|5||Off the Tracks||38|
|5||Lake the Post||38|
|8||Buckeye Battle Cry||37|
|11||Black Shoes Diaries||34|
Perfect week for Nittany Lines and MGO.
September 21, 2007
As I'm sure you've noticed I haven't exactly been into week by week previews here at Gopher Nation. I guess that is primarily because I don't feel I'm familiar enough with our opponents that I could give an adequate and fair preview. I would have been very wrong 2/3 of the time thus far so I guess it was probably the right decision.
So instead of me breaking down the MN/Pur matchup I have asked Off the Tracks, a Purdue blog who has been brilliant in the Big Ten Pick'em , to give Gopher Nation his take on Saturday's game.
1. If Minnesota is going to win, schematically what will they have to do to the Boilermakers?
Honestly its going to take Purdue turning the ball over, a lot. Last week The Boilers had five turnovers and still won comfortably against Central Michigan. So far Purdue has been able to pass, pass, pass, but what is keeping teams honest is the ground game. before Jaycen Taylor got hurt Purdue had both him and Kory Sheets splitting the carries just about evenly. Sheets ran for 144 yards and two TD's last week, plus Curtis Painter has proven the past two years he can run the ball if he has to. This year Purdue seems to have more balance than in past seasons. Sheets will be the man now, but true freshman Dan Dierking will see more action with the first unit. In mop up action he already has mroe than 100 yards and a pair of TD's.
Minnesota's best hope is to probably use its ground game to keep the Boilermaker offense off the field. The Gophers also can't afford to turnt he ball over like they did against Florida Atlantic. If Purdue gets a short field often, it will be over in a hurry. Purdue also has so many dangerous receivers that someone is going to be open that can catch the ball. minnesota will need to get to Painter and not give him time to throw, something that no one has done yet. To my knowledge Painter has been sacked just once so far. If he has all day to throw like he has in the first three games he's going to find someone, and he's already thrown TD passes to eight different receivers. He has yet to throw an interception and only came close once, but an Eastern Illinois defender dropped the pass. Last season Painter led the nation with 19 picks in 14 games.
2. Over the years Pur / Min has typically been a high scoring affair with yards and points piled up. Going back to the games with Alstott and Chris Darkins running all over the field these teams have combined for 60+ points in 9 of their last 12 games.
2005 - 42-35 (OT)
2001 - 28-35 (OT)
2000 - 24-38
1999 - 28-33
1998 - 21-56
1997 - 43-59
1995 - 39-38
1994 - 37-49
1993 - 59-56
Will they combine for over 60 on Saturday and if so, how many of those points will Purdue have?
Purdue's averaging just under fifty on their own and I have seen where Minnesota can score in a hurry as well, so this should be a fun one. Purdue defense is much improved over the last two seasons, but it was hard to get much worse. They've improved to the point that they can now get the occasional stop and hold teams to about 20-25 points. Last year we gave up 35 to one of the worst 1-AA teams in the country in Indiana State. People may say that we're a product of our schedule, but that result from last year tells we couldn't stop anybody. This year we've played slightly better teams in our first three games and have never been threatened.
I think there will be sixty points scored, and honestly unless Minnesota's defense shows drastic improvement or Purdue throws a lot of interceptions about 45 of those will be Purdue's.
3. If Painter breaks his leg in the 1st qtr who will replace him, is he any good and how many yards will he have?
Joey Elliott is our backup and he has seen only some very limited action the past two seasons. So far on the season he is 1 for 4 for 7 yards and an interception while primarily handing off to Dan Dierking to kill the clock. Elliott is big at 6'3" and is a redshirt sophomore, and was 6 of 10 for 72 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT last year. He honestly hasn't played a ton, and not at all in a real game situation, but as a redshirt this is his third year in the system. He's also the only other quarterback who has actually seen the field, so he would play in a situation like that.
I honestly can't say what Elliott would do, but I'd probably be unconcious from a heart attack if Painter left the game anyway. I think he would do alright, but simply from lack of actual game experience there would be a serious dropoff. What makes Painter so good is that he has had essentially the same receiving options since he became the starter two years ago. They've grown intot he offense together and it is very hard to repalce that.
4. Which Golden Gopher is the one who strikes fear in the hearts of Boilermaker fans, players and coaches?
Amir Pinnix. The last two season we have struggled to stop the running game and it has killed us. We've faced a couple of good backs so far in Toledo's Jalen Parmele and Central Michigan's Ontario Sneed, but they are only good by MAC standards. Pinnix is in a different class and if our defense really isn't that much better Pinnix could be in a field day. I attended the game in minneapolis two years ago and both Gary Russell and Laurence Maroney tore us up. Last year Pinnix didn't find the end zone, but he did rush for more than 170 yards.
If Purdue can contain him then suddenly the defense will have a lot more confidence for the rest of the season, as Pinnix is one of the top backs in the league and Minnesota has always had a good running game. Minnesota needs to use him to control the tempo and keep the Purdue offense off the field.
September 20, 2007
Tubby has signed a big man!
PF - Colton Iverson - is going to be a Golden Gopher.
The 6'9", 240 lb Iverson joins SF, JUCO transfer Paul Carter to give Minnesota a little bit of hope for their frontcourt in 2008.
Iverson is a 3-star player according to Rivals and is ranked 140th overall in this class. Prior to this summer Iverson was not a highly recruited player but a solid AAU summer season made him a hot commodity as he was offered scholarships from Florida, Iowa, Nebraska and Iowa State. His recruitment came down to Minnesota and Nebraska but the feeling all along was that Minnesota had the inside track.
ESPN's Insider has this to say about Iverson - "Iverson is a mobile big man who runs the floor very well, is very agile and is coordinated. He attacks the glass and is a very good rebounder. Colton has a good skill package for a big man. He has good fundamental post moves with a soft touch around the basket. Good jump hook and counter moves. He knows how to score in the low post. Needs to improve defensively in the post to play against major college opponents but has shown this summer that he can become a very effective college player."
My takes is that Iverson is the exact type of player that Tubby needs to be recruiting at this point. With Minnesota's lack of recent success it will be difficult to bring in top 50 type impact players. Tubby needs to bring in guys who are solid and who will play solid D, rebound well and has the ability to score.
This is a very big signing for many reasons not the least of which is that we graduate every player over 6'4" this year (Jonothan Williams being the lone exception). Congratulations to Tubby and his staff on this important signing for the basketball program.
Souix Falls Sports article - Iverson's high school team finished with a 16-10 record last year and a trip to the State Tournament.
Big Ten Roundtable is back and we have great set of questions from Maize n Brew.
1. Time to break out the crystal ball. I want to know what happens at the END of the season. Give me your offensive and defensive Players of the Year in the Big Ten along with Coach of the Year and why.
Offense - Barring injury I don't know how you could keep this award away from Mike Hart. He is tearing up defenses every game and has been the one thing Michigan fans could count on their way to a 1-2 start. Runner-Up = Matt Painter.
Defense - If Ohio State finishes 4th or better in conference this will go to Laurinaitis. I get the feeling that the award is already his unless he gets injured or if Ohio State really stumbles and gets passed by Pur, Mich St, Ind or anybody other than PSU, Wis or Mich. Somebody is going to have to have a year that absolutely dominates whatever Laurinaitis does. Runner-Up? - somebody yet unknown will step up and have a big year.
2. With the upsets, close games, and head scratchers so far, every game we thought was going to be important has changed. Michigan State is 3-0, for Pete's sake, and they look good doing it. Pick the three games on the Big Ten Schedule that will determine the Big Ten Champion. Bonus Points for not picking three games on your own schedule.
- Ohio State @ Penn State - I think this might be THE game this year. I have every reason to believe that Ohio State will be 8-0 heading into this game. Their biggest question mark has been their offense but they'll have 8 games under their belts by this point and should be getting to a point where we'll know what to expect with this offense. It showed signs of life at Washington and if they get things going their defense is good enough that they'll win the league. On the other side, Penn State will have already played Michigan and Wisconsin. If they get through those games this will be their last hurdle and could have the B10 all but wrapped up.
- Penn State @ Michigan - first game of the Big Ten season and it is an elimination game for both teams. This is bigger for Michigan than it is Penn State though. If the Wolverines can get this win it will be the game that puts them back on the map and will give them confidence to go out and win the Big Ten. Should they lose they'll be 1-3 and essentially be fighting to get bowl eligible. This is Penn State's statement game. They have had trouble with Michigan in recent memory. If they can go to the Big House and win they feel ready for anybody and will establish themselves as the team to beat.
- Wisconsin's final 3 (@OSU, Mich, @Min) - Unless disaster has struck Wisconsin will enter this final stretch 9-0 or 8-1. Win these final 3 games and they'll very likely be conference champs. Going to Ohio State will be tough enough considering the Buckeye defense and what should be a better offesne. Then they get the wounded wolverines at home. At this point that game appears better than it did a month ago, but should still be tough. Then you have the trap game on the road against a rival. The smart money (and the dumb money for that matter) will be on the Badgers but any let down and the Gopher offense could put up some crazy numbers.
3. How many games, this season, have you been to? How many games have you tailgated at? If you have tailgated, name your beverage of choice. If you answered no to the previous questions, hang your head in shame, or at least give a good story about watching the game in enemy territory and giving the bouncer the finger when he asked you to quiet down.
I have not yet attended a game. And tailgating is lame around the Metrodome. I did watch the Gophers opener (Bowling Green) in enemy territory, sort of. I was in Wisconsin but watched the game in the comfort of my in-law's living room.
4. As the Big Ten Season kicks off, the Conference is in somewhat of a difficult position nationally. Needing some momentum after a horrid BCS performance, the Conference needed some momentum early in the season. It hasn't gotten it. The first three weeks have been abysmal. Is this just a down year for the Big Ten, is there a change Nationally that the Big Ten just hasn't picked up on, is there some truth to the "Big Ten Style of Play" that everyone harps on, or has college football simply caught up? What so you think and why? I may be beating a dead horse, but no one looks good this year and I'm at a loss as to why.I think this is just a down year for overall talent. So many good players graduated last year and that left every team with major question marks.
- Ohio State graduated their entire offense
- Michigan graduated their entire defense
- Wisconsin lost Stocco and Joe Thomas
As far as the bowl games go I think that judging overall conference strength on that is vastly overrated. Was the Big 12 better than the Big Ten because Iowa and Minnesota lost to Texas and Texas Tech? I don't buy that. They lost simply because Texas was better than Iowa and TexTech was better than Minnesota. Overall I think the B10 was a much stronger conference than the B12 in 2006. Was the Big Ten better than the SEC because we were 2-1 in bowls last year? No, I would say the SEC was a deeper conference last year than the Big Ten.
The great Mike Tice once said "enjoy the season." I think those are wise word from
September 17, 2007
I feel pretty good about my 1 thru 11, but after that I could just as well roll dice.
Here are my thoughts on a handful of teams...
- BC - 3-0 in conference play is impressive, while most 3-0 schools are playing teams from weaker conferences.
- there are a ton of teams that I feel are ranked about 4 spots too high, but there is nobody to put ahead of them. Missouri, S. Carolina, Alabama, S Florida are all examples of that.
- I've wanted to drop Louisville and finally have a reason to. Their D is almost as bad as Minnesota's.
- Michigan State - win over Pitt puts them at 3-0, win @ Notre Dame might get them into my top 25
- Cincinnati - won convincingly in their 3 wins, L'ville better look out
- Purdue - should be 4-0 after this week, but no big wins
- Arizona State
I'm a glass half full kinda guy. So here is some good news...
Minnesota accounted for Big Ten Defensive and Special Teams players of the week! Yup, you read that right. Even after a highly disappointing loss where our defense gave up about a mile of offense somehow a player from Minnesota was B10 Defensive POW! Congratulations James Laurinaitis from Wayzata (playing for Ohio State) and David Gilreath from New Hope (playing for Wisconsin).
Miami Northwestern WR, Tommy Streeter whom the Gophers are strongly pursuing racked up 140 yards receiving and 3 TDs against Southlake Carrol (TX). Getting a playmaker with Streeter's speed would surely help assuage the potential loss of Mike Floyd. Getting both would be awesome but landing 1 would really help this offense out. Think either of them can play defense?
The University of Minnesota is #1 - Trojan condoms ranked the U as #1 for sexual health on campus. It is good to know that we support a sexually healthy campus.
Gopher Volleyball won this weekend. The volleyball team won the Gopher Invitational beating Creighton 3-1 and Wisconsin Green Bay 3-0. I know nothing about the quality of these opponents but as we have learned with football it doesn't matter how good they are supposed to be, you should just beat them.
Oh, and Iowa lost! - if we have to lose at least we can revel in someone else losing as well!