Friday, July 27, 2007

Blah, Blah, Bloggers Hating On Minnesota

In my continuing goal to provide you the Minnesota football previews penned aroud the blogosphere, I bring you previews today of varying quality.

Let's start with a preview that clearly includes little to no research. It's from Rumors and Rants. Here's there take on the maroon and gold. They pick Minnesota to finish 11th in the Big Ten.

They are switching quarterbacks because Brian Cupito graduated and their receivers are a question mark because, well, they never passed the ball before. Any step away from the old system is a good step, we suppose. Also, their defense was terrible and, though they are switching schemes and coordinators, still has the same personnel. If they play their absolute best, Minnesota can win five games. They could also lose every single one of them except for Florida Atlantic. Minnesota fan can find consolation in the fact that one day, the team may again be at least decent. Hopefully not too decent, Indiana could use the win.
A few points here. First, the idea that the Gophers football team may some day be decent is a misguided statement. The Gophers have been decent, consistently decent, during the Glen Mason era. An overabundance of average football is what got Mason canned. It's possible the Tim Brewster-led Gophers will be less-than-decent this year, but that would be a step backwards. Secondly, to say that Minnesota never passed the ball, and I realize this was sarcasm, is silly when you consider Bryan Cupito is the school's all-time leading passer. It's true that Mason was a run-first guy, and he did that with success. But it's a mistake to believe the Gophers never passed. The blogger rightly points out our receiving corps appears weak on paper, but the blogger apparently didn't pay too much attention to offensive coordinator Mike Dunbar's statements that he would take advantage of Mason's personnel and run more this year than he might like to. Spread offense doesn't equal 90 percent pass.

A week or so ago, fellow Big Ten blogger Brian at Mgoblog penned another negative Minnesota preview. The difference here is Brian put a boatload of effort into his analysis and most of it I tend to agree with. The blogger's take on Minnesota fans' giddiness over Brewster's arrival is top-notch--unless of course you are like most Minnesota fans and want to read only how Tim Brewster will take the football team to Pasadena.

The gift of gab is the key to Brewster's ascension. He's scandalously light on actual coaching accomplishments but has a reputation as a "monster recruiter." Assuming that he will raise the level of talent Minnesota brings in is a dubious proposition based on fine work he did under Mack Brown's tutelage. Recruiting Vince Young to Texas is an entirely different matter than recruiting him to Minnesota. The Gophers have made a serious misstep by bringing in a neophyte with a rep as a recruiter instead of someone who can spin straw into gold. Because Minnesota, recruiter or no, is going to see lots of straw.
I don't disagree with Brian that recruiting in Minny is a far different task than in Texas. And I've said previously that Brewster will need to coach, something he doesn't have a track record of, if the Gophers are going to improve.

The blogger goes on to predict a best case scenario of 6-6 and a worst case scenario of 0-12. I think the latter is a little far-fetched. And what does Brian really think? He lays out his thoughts after taking Sunday Morning Quarterback and yours truly to task for suggesting Minnesota was medicore last year, and that it was doubtful the Gophers would go from OK to awful.
Ah, if only Minnesota had actually been mediocre last year. They were not. They were outgained by their opponents by 50 yards a game, and the true Lovecraftian depths their defense descended to were masked by an outpouring of opponent generosity that will not repeat. The three best player's on last year's offense are gone. There are no suitable replacements at quarterback, and the run game that has long been the rock Minnesota planted its flag upon has been discarded.

Meanwhile, Brewer has never coached a football team before. Everett Withers hasn't been a defensive coordinator since 1997. Mike Dunbar's terms as offensive coordinator have been under gurus Jeff Tedford and Randy Walker, who functioned mostly as their own coordinators. The offense is radically changing to a scheme no one is surprised by anymore. The defense has like 2.5 players on it.

There is one conclusion here: disaster. Minnesota blows one of its non-conference games, scrapes a win in conference, and ends up 4-7.
Then we have Penn State blog Black Show Diaries, where Mike does a thorough job breaking down the Gophers' offense and defense. He concludes like this.
Here we have a team learning a new system implemented by a coach with no head coaching experience. They are going to a spread offense while breaking in a new quarterback with only two legitimate wide receivers to throw to. Left tackle is a serious concern as is the entire defense. Heavy distractions as well as depth issues loom over this team with the dismissal of EJ Jones, Dominic Jones, Keith Massey, and Alex Daniels. The kickers are meh and nobody knows who is going to return kicks now. All of this has the looks of a train wreck about to happen. I think Minnesota will drop two out of conference games, but they'll get one back somewhere in the conference schedule. Magic Eight Ball says 3-9.
I don't disagree with Mike's analysis of the maroon and gold's challenges. But assuming that Minnesota will drop two-of-four against North Dakota State at home, Florida Atlantic away, Bowling Green at home and Miami(Ohio)at home is absurd.

Now, I'm not a homer-type. I'm not shy about criticizing our hometown teams or predicting complete and utter failure. Minny fans have taken me to task for criticizing Saul Smith, among other people. But I stand by the predicition I made in a guest blog at Hawkeye State, where I argued that the Gophs would sweep the out of conference schedule and win three Big Ten games. I'll deliver a more thorough Gophers preview here in the weeks to come.