Sunday, September 30, 2007

Let's Talk About Those Unis

Since I saw the tail end of the Tim Brewster's fourth career loss, I could add my two cents about the second Big Ten loss. However, let's talk about what's really important: Those monotone new uniforms.

Chip Scoggins reported today that a bunch of recruits, including that wide receiver named Michael Floyd, were in attendance last night as our rodents had what Adam Weber called a "moral victory." That's really secondary, I'm sure, in the minds of Floyd and other recruits. I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that they care more about how they'll look than whether Tim Brewster can coach.

My thoughts on the uniforms are this: they are bright, shiny and decidedly gold. I'm a fan of the white shoes and have been all season. But I think the lads need to coordinate their accessories better. Instead of white wrist bands, let's go with marron. Instead of whit socks and showing some leg, let's go with jacked up maroon socks.


I think I kind of like the new unis. They look a helluva lot better than the bland white and gray tOSU wears. We might have lost 30-7, but we were prettier. And that, my friends, is surely what matters to Floyd and others.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Gophers vs. OSU Open Thread

For the second straight week I won't be able to live blog as I like to do. The day job requires attendance at some fancy Washington music concert. I'd be excited if it was Billy Corrigan I get to see this evening, but instead it's classical music. My grandfather would be proud.

Anyway, I actually think the Gophers can be somewhat competitive tonight. The Buckeyes are down from a year ago, and while they are considerably more talented up and down the roster, if the Gophers can stay in the game in the first half, control the ball on the ground, I think they have a chance to be with in two touchdowns by the end of the game.

I'm looking forward to see what Duane Bennett can do on the ground against a solid run defense. And I'm looking forward to seeing what the entire offense can do against a solid Big Ten defense. The Gophers' spread offense, which has been successful at least in terms of yardage and points, will have its first real test.

Pick: OSU 34, Minnesota 21.

Feel free to leave your rants and raves in the comments section below.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Tubes Connected, Finally

Thanks to my friends at Verizon, I finally have the band of tubes connected to my new home. What a tremendous development.

So, since I still haven't seen the Minny-Purdue shootout on the BTN, I'll instead today take everyone on a little journey through the dark band of tubes. Here goes.

** My hero, Tubby Smith, did a Q&A with the BTN Wednesday and said he wants the Golden Gophers to play up-tempo. That's good news. He also talks about the origin of his nickname and said the Gophers need to improve on ball-handling from a year ago. He also said he expects Gopher fans to be patient. I think all of us will be patient this year so long as the recruiting batles go our way. And right now, that means possible commitments from Ralph Sampson III and Verdell Jones.

** Speaking of RSIII, many news outlets are reporting the Gophers are at or near the top in his recruitment. The biggest challenge at this point seems to be Georgia Tech. RSIII, as many of you know, is a center/forward who Tubby Smith has been after before his stock began to rise. Like the recruitment of coveted point guard Verdell Jones, the recruitment of RSIII could pit Tubby up against his former employers in Kentucky. The Wildcats are after both players.

** Verdell Jones is described by MidStateHoops as a "scoring guard with outstanding basketball knowledge and instincts." He is 6'5 175 from Champaign, Ill. He has received offers from Kentucky, Tennessee, Minnesota and others. Jones is a 3-star recruit according to Rivals but is also considered to be one of the top point guards stilll available for the 2008 class.

** Don Lucia's squad is ranked #2 in a preseason WCHA poll. I note this to bring to your attention my desire to bring on a contributor to write about hockey. I watch the Gophers hockey team but I've never played hockey and will be the first to admit I can't talk intelligently about the game. So, if you're interested, my email is on the right sidebar. Shoot me a note and we can discuss.

On to Gopher football. I had hoped to avoid discussing football considering I'm increasingly discouraged by our 1-3 start.

** I'll start with this tidbit from a notes section from the Detroit News. They quote Tim Brewster saying:

"We've played extremely well in the second half of all our games. We've been a 60-minute football team. I'm extremely proud of the way our kids have responded. Our kids' attitude and effort has been outstanding."
Um, really, Tim? The Gophers have been a 60-minute team? Really? That surprises me because it has seemed to me, and judging by the reports from the Purdue game, the Gophers were once again thorougly dominated in the first 30 minutes. Now, I'll say that I've been impressed with how the football team has come back in the second halves, but to say the Gophers have been a 60-minute football team is failing to notice the travails of every first half through four games.

** Thankfully, Boston isn't a hotbed for the athleticism the Gophers are trying to recruit. This Boston Herald piece absolutely slams Brewster and the Gophers. Here's a taste:

After Minnesota squandered a huge second-half lead and lost 44-41 to Texas Tech in last year’s Insight Bowl, the school’s powers that be couldn’t wait to fire veteran coach Glen Mason.

Forgotten was the fact that Mason had turned the program around during his tenure, and that the Gophers were no longer a Big Ten doormat but a team that went to a bowl every postseason.

But this year the only bowling Minny will be doing is at the campus alleys.

Despite a soft early schedule, the not-so-Golden Gophers sandwiched losses to lightweights Bowling Green and Florida Atlantic around a win over lowly Miami of Ohio. And they needed two overtimes to gain the victory. Conference play began last week with a 45-31 loss to Purdue

There was more harshness but I'll leave it at that.

** Some quick stats for fun. The Gophers are giving up almost 545 yards per game (almost 410 through the air) and almost 40 points per game.

** The Ohio State Buckeyes, who have a chance to pad their offensive stats this weekend, aren't giving Tim Brewster's squad any bulletin-board material. Quarterback Todd Boeckman said the Gophers have solid defensive players. Running back Maurice Wells added this gem: "Minnesota's a great defense." Um, OK, Maurice. Even Jim Tressel gets into the act in this AP piece.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Hiatus

The break in action is nearing an end. I'm still without Internet access at my new home and I refuse to write a full post from my Palm. So, until tomorrow hopefully when I should have glorious Internet access on my laptop.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Open Thread -- Purdue At Minnesota

I'm not going to be able to liveblog the game Saturday as I am typically wont to do because the lady friend and I have to move our entire life into a brand new home. Kinda exciting stuff but also one big pain in the ass. So, instead of liveblogging this game, I leave this thread open to you all to talk amongst yourselves. Unless the BTN replays the game, I won't get to see it, so do leave me descriptive highlights!

And please make sure to mention if Tim Brewster is seen lying on the Metrodome turf again.

For what it's worth, I predict the following: The Boilermakers flirt with 70 points but settle for a 64-42 win.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Reports Indicate Iverson Commits To Tubby

The Pioneer Press' Marcus Fuller is reporting on his blog here that Colton Iverson, who was also offered a scholarship by Florida, among others, is likely going to be a Gopher.

Rivals indicates that Iverson has given the Gophers a solid verbal.

This would be good news for Tubby's 2008 recruiting class. The locals from Yankton, SD, apparently liked the fact Tubby made a visit on Wednesday. Here's a story from the local rag.

The photo is of Iverson on his AAU team South Dakota Heat driving the lane

Iverson is a 6-9 lanky forward who was being recruited by two-time defending national champion Florida, Nebraska and Iowa, among others. He's ranked by Rivals as the #39 power forward in the country and is #140 overall in the country.

Here's another story from the Yankton Press & Dakotan highlighting Iverson's workouts with college coaches. It suggests that Kentucky and UCLA at least had a look at Iverson as well.

I'll update this as more comes in.

Guest Post: A Look At Purdue

PJS Note: Purdue blogger Travis from Off The Tracks has provided PJS readers with an insider's view of the Purdue Boilermakers. He suggests the tilt against the Gophers should be a good one Saturday. He's either being nice or he missed the fact we lost to Florida Atlantic.

By Travis
Guest Contributor

When looking at the Boilermakers so far this season the story on the surface is clearly the performance of the offense. Purdue has scored 52, 52, and 45 points in its first three games and if not for a five turnover day against Central Michigan last week would probably been over 50 points again. Purdue got up 24-0 with 300 yards of total offense in the first quarter alone last week and led 38-0 in the third quarter before putting it on cruise control and letting the Chippewas have a big second half. Only a fumble at the 2 yard line by Selwyn Lymon put a damper on an otherwise dominant first quarter.

Quarterback play:
Curtis Painter led the country last year in interceptions with 19 picks in 14 games. So far this season he has 13 touchdowns and 952 yards with zero interceptions. Only once in the Eastern Illinois came did he come close to throwing a pick, and it was dropped by the Panther defensive player. He is also completing his passes at a much higher rate this year, going 81 for 118. Even though he threw so many picks last season he still broke Drew Brees’ single season record for passing yards by 2 yards, although he did it in 14 games compared to 13 for Brees in 1998.

For video of Painter check out the clips from the Toledo game at Spoilermaker.com. This was his least consistent game of the season and he still had four TD passes. He’s playing at a very high level and much of that credit goes to an offensive line that has kept him very protected. Rarely has he even had to scramble yet, and with so many receiving options at his disposal he can pick teams apart now.

If he does need to run he has proven the last two years to be effective at it. We’ve only run our option play a handful of times so far, but it is still there and can be deadly when used.

Running backs:
This has been a strength so far, but Purdue suffered a huge blow Saturday when Jaycen Taylor was lost with a broken arm. Initial reports said he could be out for the season, but he responded to surgery well and now may be back in time for the Northwestern game. He was the starter and went almost all of last season without having a single negative yardage play.

Kory Sheets is now the starter, but he was pretty much splitting carries with Taylor anyway. Sheets has been a contributor since his first game as a redshirt freshman when he returned a blocked punt for a TD. He has 27 career TD’s now and ran for a pair of scores and 144 against Central Michigan. He’s also dangerous catching passes out of the backfield. I look for him to step into his vast potential now that he is truly the main man.

The only knock on Sheets is that he fumbles a lot at times. In fact he had three of them on Saturday and lost two of them with the other rolling out of bounds. If he gets over this he is dangerous. Third stringer and true freshman Dan Dierking will now get about 35-40% of the carries and he has played very well in garbage time so far. He is actually the son of Purdue legend Scott Dierking and has already rushed for 115 yards and two touchdowns. On his second career carry he busted a 30-yard TD against Toledo.

Wide Receivers:
Where do I begin with this group? Dorien Bryant is a speedster, possession guy, can break almost any play, and sometimes lines up in the spread formation as a running back. Selwyn Lymon and Greg Orton are the outside receivers and can both stretch the field. Dustin Keller already has four TD’s at tight end and a great play to see him in action is his 80 yard TD catch at Toledo on Spoilermaker. His backup Kyle Adams is developing into a solid big goal line pass catcher as well.

For good measure even the backups are solid. Jake Standeford, brother of former Purdue record holder John, is a fifth year senior walk-on that may not have great physical tools, but does everything right and has simply earned his way to the field. He is a fantastic blocker downfield and has developed into a good pass-catcher as well. Desmond Tardy plays the same position as Bryant and is a converted option quarterback, so he’s dangerous with the ball and even threw on a trick play for a TD at Hawaii last year.

By the way, all seven of these guys have already seen the end zone this year at least once.

Defense:
This has been the real surprise so far, although many people are not giving us credit for it. Against similar competition in our first three games last season we were barely able to stop Indiana State, Miami (OH) and Ball State who were worse teams than we have played so far.

This season, except for about the first 20 minutes against Toledo and the second half against Central Michigan the defense has been solid. More importantly they have been more aggressive than the past two seasons, even though they are largely the same unit from last year. Justin Scott is developing into a hard hitting safety that has been in the right spot at the right time with five interceptions in his 17 games at Purdue.

One big change actually came from the offense, and Anthony Heygood converted from running back to linebacker and led the team in tackles the first two games this season. He has surprised nearly everyone and seems to be a natural at linebacker. The defensive line is bigger and deeper this year, allowing for a strong rotation between several guys.

I noticed for the first time in almost two years that the defense was much more aggressive and hard hitting than it has been. They haven’t forced a ton of turnovers yet (only six by my count), but they have been strong in the red zone. It’s the type of unit that doesn’t need to shut other teams down, but if they can limit a team to 20-25 points we should be able to win with our offense. The difference year is experience as so far it seems to be paying off.

Special Teams:
This is another surprise area as what we thought was going to be a strength, punting, has faltered while placekicking, which was awful last year, has been pretty good. Chris Summers was only 8 for 20 on field goals last season, but was automatic on PAT’s. He really improved his game in the offseason and though he missed his first field goal of the season by less than a foot, he has since made three in a row. Last season he didn’t make a single kick after the Wisconsin game.

Jared Armstrong had a great year last year and was expected to be one of the best punters in the nation but he is in a slump right now, shanking things left and right. In the return game we have Bryant returning punts and kickoffs and he has already returned a kickoff 91 yards for a TD against Toledo and nearly broke one all the way against Central Michigan. Last season our kickoff coverage was among the best in the nation and we do a lot of directional kicking with high kicks placed at about the 20 to get the coverage downfield and prevent a long return. It’s been fairly successful all year.

Overall:
This Purdue team really coming together right now, but the turnovers in the second half and the way the defense slacked off against Central Michigan are the first pangs of concern I have had. Also we haven’t really had a good game at getting to the quarterback yet, but the defense is at least causing pressure and several incompletions. This team is starting to look really good and if they can knock off Ohio State at home on October 6th the stage could be set for a very special year. Still, I don’t want to look past the Gophers because you guys always play us close.

Two years ago I went to the game in the Metrodome and left shocked when we couldn’t pull off one play on defense that could have one the game. As a result we went on a six game slide and never truly recovered. You guys never seem to be dead, as the last three weeks you’ve managed comebacks from late deficits to be right there. It should be a good game on Saturday.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

On Tim Brewster

It didn't take long for the excitement of a new Gopher era to wash away. As Tim Brewster's Golden Gophers melted away in the south Florida sun, many Gopher fans, including me, turned away from the television (actually computer) in disgust.

The emails and comments on message boards have run the gamut. Some have suggested that the dismissal of Glen Mason was a bad move. This argument is likely coming from at least some of the same folks who called for Mason's head. Others won't go quite that far, but are quick to question if Brewster has any coaching ability. He wasn't pitched as a coach, they argue, but as a recruiter. And recruiting, they say, will be difficult with a one-win team.

Others are ringing a more positive chord. They argue that installing the spread offense takes time, and that Mason left the cupboard bare in terms of talent. They point to a secondary filled with kids and the loss of Dominic Jones to 'Let's Videotape Our Illegal Sex Acts Gate.' These apologists point to coaches like Iowa's Kirk Ferentz and suggest that it takes time to build a winning program.

My opinion on Tim Brewster's disappointing 1-2 start lies somewhere in between those two points of view. I believe the following:

** Tim Brewster and his coaching staff are not adequately preparing for opponents. In Minnesota's three games they have been dominated in the first half before making solid adjustments to stem the opponents' tide. In two cases, the halftime adjustments haven't been enough. That tells me that Brewster and company are doing a poor job of gameplanning. With suspect talent on the roster, Brewster and company need to have the lads prepared from the opening whistle. Brewster has failed to do that. He accepted the blame for the loss at FAU. Rightly so.

** In his zeal to be the new cool kid on the block, Tim Brewster hasn't played to Minnesota's strengths. Because the spread offense is the new hip offense to run, Brewster has run away from the things the Gophers have done, and can do, well. I believe Glen Mason would be 3-0 right now because he would have pounded the ball on the ground, controlled the clock and kept a suspect defense off the field as long as possible. With the Brewster/Mike Dunbar offense that hasn't happened. I'm not arguing that the spread is a bad thing in the long run. Some people have called the offense the "great equalizer" in college football. But until Brewster has the pieces to operate it effectively, and that includes a competent defense, the spread should have been phased in to allow for the current crop of Gophers to do what they know how to do best.

** Having a good PR man only gets you so far. It was good to hear high expectations coming from our new coach. It was good to hear that Brewster wasn't going to fall back on the tired excuses of the Mason era. At the same time, that hefty dose of public relations is what is hurting Brewster now. He talked up the ability of this current team so much, that he is now being hammered by the same people he was trying to convince to support the team. Brewster needs to add a dose of honesty to his rhetoric. As one Gopher fan, I am willing to rebuild if you're honest with me about it. Brewster hasn't been honest.

** Brewster has made the right decision at quarterback. Adam Weber, while he has made mistakes, can realistically grow into a very, very good Big Ten quarterback. He has all the tools to run the spread offense. If this season is wasted while he matures, so be it.

** Brewster's jockeying in the secondary is troublesome. Two senior starters have been benched in exchange for freshman. I'm not saying those were bad decisions, but Brewster should have went with the kids from the first day. Again, if this season is wasted while the young secondary matures, so be it.

** Finally, the jury is still out on whether or not Tim Brewster was the right choice to replace Glen Mason. But it was the right decision to dump Mason. Many fans more in touch with the recruiting situation at the U than I am have told me privately that the Gophers under Mason were becoming increasingly lackadasical in the recruiting department. Brewster's public persona may be beginning to wear on some Gopher fans, but his track record for recruiting remains strong and I have no doubt that he will pursue that task with vigor. We can't make a sound judgment on Brewster until after the upcoming offseason at the earliest. By then, we'll have a chance to see if he has done what he was brought here to do: bring top level talent to Minnesota. If he can't do that, than all of us can use our 20-20 hindsight and publicly kick Joel Maturi for not hiring someone like Lane Kiffin.

Blogpoll Initial Ballot

UCLA drops out because they were embarrassed. I moved USC up one notch because I believe the win at Nebraska is better than any victory thus far by the Sooners. I dropped Texas one notch--was tempted to go down farther--after the scare at Central Florida.

Penn State remains the highest ranked Big 10 team, followed by Ohio State and Wisconsin. I was--for the first time this year--impressed by a Big 10 team when Ohio State handled Washington on the road.

Alabama and Nick Saban make their first appearance here after a very entertaining win against Arkansas. The Razorbacks stay in the poll because it is a rivalary game and I thought for the most part they played well. Same goes for Louisville. The loss at Kentucky hurts any national title hopes, but the Cardinals lost to their biggest rival. No game matters more in the Bluegrass state than Louisville v. Kentucky.

I'm moving Purdue into the rankings this week, in part becuase I foresee them putting up 60+ against the Golden Gophers this week.

Thoughts? Critiques? Have at it.

Rank

TeamDelta
1LSU--
2Southern Cal 1
3Oklahoma 1
4West Virginia--
5Florida--
6California 2
7Texas 1
8Penn State 2
9Rutgers--
10Oregon 3
11Ohio State 5
12Wisconsin 3
13South Carolina 7
14Boston College 5
15Alabama 11
16Cincinnati 10
17Clemson 9
18South Florida--
19Louisville 12
20Arkansas 9
21Purdue 5
22Hawaii--
23Texas A&M--
24Virginia Tech 1
25Kentucky 1



Dropped Out: UCLA (#12), Nebraska (#14), Georgia Tech (#17), Tennessee (#21), Washington (#24).

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Game Thread: Minnesota at FAU

The game is on ESPN 360. If I can get it to work I'll try and bring updates as I've done in the past. If it doesn't work on my computer, feel free to use the comments section to leave your reactions to the game. I didn't have time for a breakdown of FAU--the day job required Friday night and Saturday morning meetings. But I do predict a Gophers win in a relative cakewalk. I don't believe teh FAU offense can exploit our secondary as Miami and BGSU have. Adam Weber and Amir Pinnix combine for close to 250 yards.

I'm thinking the Webcast is going to work. I have Verizon Internet so I automatically get it. If you want to see the game, check ESPN 360 to see if you have free access.

** Um. Not a good start. The Owls started off with a no huddle that had our lads compeltely surprised. And if they weren't 'surprised,' they sure handled it poorly. The Owls threw a few wide receiver screens, and with our corners giving 5-10 yard cushions. The Owls went about 70 yards on only a handful of plays. Quarterback Rusty Smith had all day to throw. No pressure. Owls 7, Minnesota 0. The 13 or so fans in attendance at Dolphin Stadium are chanting "FAU." Uh. Oh.

** That's better! Jay Thomas takes the kickoff 90 yards for 6. Minnesota 7, FAU 7. Why do I feel this game is going to be in the 50s on both sides?

** Um. More sieve-like defense. FAU marches down the field quickly despite horrendus field position. The secondary provided little in terms of resistence. Rusty Smith, except for the touchdown pass, had little pressure. Owls, 14, Minnesota 7. If this is disheartening, realize that Wisconsin is tied with The Citadel at 21 heading into halftime and Penn State is struggling with Buffalo.

** I think the 50 point prediction a little bit ago is looking good. Adam Weber orchestrates a lengthy drive culminating in a nice looking hookup with Eric Decker. Maybe 60+ each. Minnesota 14, Owls 14 with 7 minutes left in the quarter!

** Wow. The defense makes a stop, thanks in part to a dropped pass and a Mike Sherels sack, but Adam Weber takes the first snap and throws a wobbly, lackadasical pass behind Ernie Wheelright. Interception!

** My Internet connection died on me for a bit, so I wasn't getting the game until now. FAU has scored again to make it 21-14 and as I got back on, Jay Thomas fumbled a screen pass from Weber to give the Owls the ball back.

** YIKES! The Gophers are now down by 14 because they can't stop the wideout screens of FAU. The Gophers blitzed on the touchdown pass and the blitz was picked up quickly leading to an easy touchdown trot. This could get ugly quickly. Good thing the Gophers concentrated on dealing with the heat. Perhaps more attention should have been paid to gameplanning the FAU Owls.

** OMG. OMG. Harold Howell fumbles again. This might be the third or fourth fumble he has put on the ground this season returning kicks. This kid might be an athlete, but he should not return any more kicks!

** OK, I'm about to go play tennis. This is embarrassing. The Owls score again on the first play as Rusty Smith roles to rhe right, the whole defense follows, and he throws back across the field to his running back who jobs 43 yards for 6. Owls 35, Minnesota 14. Tim Brewster should be embarrassed. This is why I agreed with Patrick Reusse when he told Brewster to shut his mouth and coach.

** And the hits just keep on coming. Adam Weber and a wideout (Wheelright? not sure, I was typing here) miscommunicate on a pattern and its intercepted. That's a mental mistake. There have been many of those today. Oh, and Harold Howell almost fumbled again. My buddy from Syracuse here is wishing the Gophers were on the Orange's schedule. Sad.

** Broken record: And the hits just keep on coming. Just when the Gophers have a chance to claw for respectability, the Gophers' Amir Pinnix fumbles on the goal line. Brewster is challenging. I don't think he wins the challenge.

SECOND HALF

** I'm here for a little while longer. Let's see if Brewster/Withers/Dunbar make any meaningful adjustments.

** Good, crisp drive for the Gophers. Weber and Pinnix ran the ball from the shotgun well. But I'm still not understanding Dunbar's insistence on using the shotgun almost 100 percent of the time. Once the Gophers are on the goal line--or in short yardage--it is ineffective. The Gophers have three chances inside the 3 yard line and come away with only 3. Owls 35, Minnesota 17.

** The Gophers force FAU to punt! Florida native Lee Campbell sacks the FAU quarterback, in the first time today that the Gophers defense puts pressure on the quarterback without bringing extra defenders. A comeback isn't unthinkable if we can get 7 here.

** Another nice drive for the Gophers. Ernie Wheelright makes an appearance, his first catch of the game. The drive culminates in Tray Herndon's first touchdown as a Gopher. FAU 35, Minnesota 24. I'm not getting excited until the Gophers' defense can make a couple more stops.

** Gophers do hold. Willie VanDeSteeg puts some pressure on Rusty Smith. Hmm. Could we pull of this comeback?

** So, as the Gophers drive to make this a game, Weber throws an interception--the Gophers' 6th turnover of the game. It's heading to the 4th quarter and I'm not going to be able to comment any further. Plans are getting in the way. On another note, I agree with what Erik said in the comments. In every second half this year Brewster and his staff have made noticeable adjustments. That's a good sign. But it also, as Erik states, brings into question his ability to scout prior to games. I hope the Gophers come back to win. Feel free to leave your rants and raves in the comments section.

FINAL: FAU 42, Minnesota 39. Let's just say I'm glad I had mid-afternoon plans I couldn't get out of. In the comments section Jon Marthaler suggests Brewster has been efficient at bringing the Gophers to their lowest point ever. That's damn harsh. I'm going to try and digest this shocker against a Sun Belt team the next 48 hours before offering any more reaction. For now, all I'm going to say is the Gophers made history today for the FAU Owls. And it wasn't any kind of history this Gopher fan was hoping his team would be a part of.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Former Tubby Commit To Play For Alford

Tubby Smith's first verbal committment at Minnesota is now heading to play for Steve Alford in New Mexico, according to the Alburquerque Tribune. Garth is now verbally committed to play for Alford and the Lobos.

Garth previously said that he decided to back away from his committment to the Gophers because playing time was likely not what it was once suggested it would be. Last month, Garth told a Minnesota Gopher's forum the following:

"This re-opening was not basketball related. Coach Smith never doubted my talent or game. It was something I wanted to do and Coach Smith was supportive of my decision. Since the roster at Minnesota has changed with Al Nolen being qualified, he told me the opportunities I was presented before, were different now."
Since taking over the program, Tubby has landed just one recruit: Paul Carter. Tubby has let Andrew Brommer go in a different direction after he verball committed to Dan Monson. Brommer is now being recruited by mid-major type programs.

While it kinda-sorta worries me that Tubby has just one solid commit at this point, Tubby is bringing in some top talent to visit, most recently 7'4 Ralph Sampson III and Colten Iverson, who is being recruited by Florida, among others. I have my fingers crossed that both give a verbal soon.

For more on the Gophers upcoming season, check out Tom's take at Gopher Nation where he asks "What does the hire of Tubby Smith mean for the 2007-08 Golden Gopher basketball season?"

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Iowa State Fans Hammer Brewster

Link here. They've taken to calling our coach "Blowhard Brewster." The discussion goes into Brewster's claim (apparently, I never heard it) that he was the first choice for the Cyclones coaching vacancy. Iowa State fans insist that's not the case. The link is a week or so old, but I just found it.

It's one thing for Minnesota fans to take jabs at Brewster for his penchant for fiery public relations, but Iowa State fans?

Mostly Not Useful Tidbits About Florida Atlantic

While the reporters in Minnesota pump out stories about the Gophers preparing for the Florida heat and how Florida is a key for recruiting, I instead will provide you with some random tidbits about Florida Atlantic University. These tidbits will be almost completely useless pieces of information. I'll follow-up sometime in the next day or two with a look at FAU's football team.

Location: Boca Raton, Fla.
Coach: Howard Schnellenberger, formerly of the University of Oklahoma, University of Louisville, University of Miami and the NFL's Baltimore Colts.
Program: Schnellenberger started the football program in 2001 and had the Owls playing at the D1-AA level until 2005 when the Owls moved the D1-A in 2005 as a member of the Sun Belt Conference.
Record vs. BCS Teams: 0-11. Our Mole Rats certainly don't want to have the distinction of being the Owls' first victim.
Series: Minnesota leads 1-0 after a 46-7 drudging in 2005 in the Metrodome.
Nickname: Owls. I'd like to have a contest here to come up with a new nickname to mock the Owls considering a Sun-Sentinel writer is referring to our lads as Mole Rats.
Highlight Video: Brought to you by the FAU fan club known as the prOWLers. Not bad, actually. Notice in the video that there are about 7 people in the stands during last season's game at Dolphin Stadium--where the Gophs will face the Owls.



If You're Going To The Game And Want To Party With The College Kids: Here's a suggestion.
Suggestion #2: Avoid this guy.



Alumni/Former Students: According to Wiki, former California gubernatorial candidate and porn star Mary Carey attended FAU. She was apparently on the FAU dance team briefly before starting to work as an exoctic dancer. Carey told MSNBC's Keith Olbermann that she was a theater major before, um, taking a different direction. Comedian Carrot Top also attended FAU. I have decided to give you a picture of Mary Carey instead of Carrot Top. It was a tough decision.

I told you I was enjoying Florida Atlantic week. And for those of you who like actual insight into opponents, I'll bring that soon. But I'm still not going to write about the Gophers turning up the heat to prepare for the temperatures in Florida!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Mole Rats And FAU's Dance Team

I'd like to start a series of random tidbits today with my new favorite blogger. His name is Ted Hutton and he blogs on Florida Atlantic football for the South Florida Sun Sentinel. I've previously stated that this little jaunt to Florida was kinda, well, weird. But I'm really beginning to like the idea of an annual trip to face the FAU Owls. I think it's fair to state that Hutton is enjoying the Minnesota game as well. He's even come up with a new nickname for our lads.

OK, since Minnesota is 1-1, they lose the right to their nickname, and are at the mercy of yours truly. I have a good friend who lives in Minnesota, and have done made two trips to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in the far north of the state, so I hold no grudge.

But, I couldn’t overlook the resemblance between gopher and its smaller version, the naked mole rat. So, the Burrowing Birds will be taking on the Mole Rats this Saturday at Dolphin Stadium.

Mole Rats. That's cool. Here's a Mole Rat in case anyone hadn't seen one before:

Attractive son of a bitch, isn't it?

While I found the nickname kinda funny, it was something else that has drawn me to Hutton's writing. Coverage of the Dance Team! In two separate Hutton posts on the Gophers, he's kindly included some eye-candy to offset the Mole Rat imagery. Here's a sampling:

Ahh, if only Chip Scoggins could be so kind to use his access to the Gophers to produce such, um, meaningful coverage.

Now on to less eye-pleasing matters.

** This letter to the editor from the Rochester Post-Bulletin makes a succinct point: "Why would a blue-chip recruit stay here to play? Both Oklahoma schools are televised in Minnesota but not the Gophers?" Oh, that darned BTN. Working great so far isn't it?

** Minnesota quarterback Adam Weber has been named Big Ten co-Big Ten offensive player of the week. Congratulations are in order for Weber, who struggled in his first half of college football but has recovered to post six consecutive quarters of solid football. This Star Tribune article tells us that Weber leads the Big Ten in total offense through two weeks. In other Weber/Star Tribune news, curmudgeony columnist Sid Hartman has compared Weber to Fran Tarkenton. Um, sure, Sid. I like the Weber kid and all too, but let's not go suggesting Weber is a future Hall of Famer. Here's Sid:

"Yes, I'll be ridiculed for this comparison. I am not saying that Weber is close to Tarkenton yet, or ever will be. But on Saturday, in his second college start, Weber rushed 16 times for 97 yards and one touchdown and completed 26 of 40 passes for 271 yards and four touchdowns, including two to sophomore Eric Decker, who also has a great future in football. Like Tarkenton, Weber can run the ball, and he is running a tough offense."

Being fast and on a Minnesota team doesn't mean that Weber is the next Tarkenton. Amazingly, Sid goes on to compare Weber to Vince Young. You're right, Sid, you deserve to be ridiculued for that.

** Week three of Brewster-ball brings more changes to the depth chart. Thankfully, Jason Giannini will no longer be kicking field goals. His three missed chances last week earned a demotion. And senior safety Duron Cooley, who was thorougly embarrassed on a couple occassions last week will be replaced in the starting lineup by true freshman Curtis Thomas. That means 13 freshman are now playing in our secondary.

** I know most Gopher fans probably can't stand Patrick Reusse of the Star Tribune. But I happen to believe that, lately at least, Reusse is telling it like it is. Last week he essentially told Brewster to shut up and coach. This week, Reusse tells Brewster to win a meaningful game before yapping. Like last week, I agree. Here's Reusse on Brewster dedicating Saturday's win to the state of Minnesota:

That's it? After Brewster's nine months of blowing hard, what the citizens and the diligent football coaches of this great state have dedicated to them is a triple-overtime, official-assisted victory over a MAC team?

Mr. Brewster, in the name of all Minnesotans blessed with reason, and particularly for all the high school coaches who work endless hours for short money, I reject this dedication.

We've endured Gopher Nation, Rose Bowl, blah, blah, blah, and we certainly deserve more than our state university's 22nd victory in 26 all-time games against the MAC.

Listen, coach, if you're going to dedicate a victory to me, it has to be at least a Big Ten victory, and not against Northwestern or Indiana.

** While most of the attention lately has been focused on Brewster's team, Minnesota's other new coach has been busy on the recruiting trail. Last week, Ralph Sampson III, who is 7'4" and growing, joined South Dakota big man Colton Iverson on a tour of campus. Both, according to separate Rivals accounts (Iverson, Sampson), enjoyed their visits. Iverson's father told Rivals he could be making a decision within weeks and Sampson spoke glowingly of the campus, Tubby Smith and the players. And this weekend two JUCO athletes will be making visits to campus, according to Rivals. Devron Bostick, a 6'5 wing from Southwestern Illinois Community College, will visit along with Orlando Allen, a 6-10 big man from Paris Junior College in Paris, Tx. Allen would certainly be a project type. At 285 pounds, the big man averaged under 2 points per game and under 3 reboudns per game as a freshman. He's received offers already from the Gophers, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Bowling Green.

** I love Florida Atlantic week.


Blogger Roundtable Week 3

This week's questions in the Big Ten bloggers roundtable come from Sean at Michigan Sports Center.

The powers that be in the Big Ten bloggers alliance decided long ago that a good way to decide who would host these roundtables would be based on matchups. This week's Notre Dame v. Michigan tilt was assumed to be the game of the week. Oh, how times change. I guess it's still going to be nationally televised.

Anyway, on to the 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)

The most encouraging part of Minnesota's 1-1 start is the play of redshirt freshman Adam Weber. He certainly struggled during the first half of his first outing, but led the Gophers on a big comeback against Bowling Green and played well enough against Miami (Ohio) to earn co-Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week honors. Weber will still have some rough patches, but he's a true dual-threat option and has looked increasingly poised in pocket. One Minneapolis columnist compared Weber to Fran Tarkenton. That might be a stretch, but Weber has four years to mature and could end up as one of the best quarterbacks in Minnesota history.

As for the disappointment .... Offensive coordinator Mike Dunbar has done all he can to make the Gophers 0-2. In Weber's first start, he came out throwing, ignoring the fact that Weber's best asset is his legs and the Gophers' best asset is an o-line and running game. In game two, up three scores with time dwindling, Dunbar decided that the best way to run down the game clock was to throw incessantly. What happend? Incompletion, incompletion, incompletion, punt and a big Miami (Ohio) comeback. He was dubbed the "extreme schemer," but he's more like an "extreme douchebag."

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?

Michigan is a joke. Ohio State looks questionable. Wisconsin had a scare at UNLV. The most impressive team so far has been Penn State. Purdue hasn't been challenged and could put up enough points to beat anyone. I'm going to say Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin.

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 Minnesota games are unbearable to watch, but not because they are boring. During the Glen Mason era, the Gophers participated in many fun shootouts. The problem was our defense was atrocious and we surrendered numerous leads. No particular game stands out, but many of those fourth quarter losses were tough to watch.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Blogpoll Week 3

So, I went a little crazy with the blogpoll.

After LSU dismantled Virginia Tech (which I predicted!) the Tigers vault over USC for the number one spot. The Tigers looked head and shoulders above the Hokies. Through two weeks, in my opinion no team has looked better. Oklahoma also looked incredibly impressive for the second straight week, this time against Miami. I watched parts of both games and was thoroughly impressed.

USC drops to #3 even though they didn't play. They'll have a chance to move back up. West Virginia looked a little shaky in the first half against Marshall, but did enough to stay in the top 5.

I dropped Wisconsin 9 spots because they were thoroughly unimpressive against UNLV, in a game I watched while falling asleep. Penn State catapults Big Ten foes Wisconsin and Ohio State because I think the Nittany Lions have looked more impressive than either team so far. A frequent commenter here had suggested I had them too low, and I agree.

Oregon moves way up the rankings for the thorough domination of Michigan. Time will tell how impressive that victory was, but Dennis Dixon looked amazing and the Ducks were far more athletic at every position. I'm liking the PAC 10 this year--sans that Oregon State embarrassment last week.

Hawaii falls for being scared by Louisiana Tech. Ohio State falls for struggling in the first half against Akron. South Carolina makes its debut after the Ole Ball Coach won a squeaker at Georgia.

South Florida makes its debut after upsetting Auburn (another prediction!). Virginia Tech stays in the rankings, but just barely. I was not impressed with their performance against ECU in week one and they mailed it in Saturday night against LSU. Frank Beamer should go full-time with the young dual-threat quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Virginia Tech gets this spot over Cincinatti, TCU, Clemson and Georgia.

The last couple weeks I didn't do this until Tuesday, which didn't give me time to make changes. But I have until Wednesday at 10 a.m. to make adjustments, so let me know what you think. We're moving things around this week!

Rank

TeamDelta
1LSU 2
2Oklahoma 3
3Southern Cal 2
4West Virginia 2
5Florida 1
6Texas 1
7Louisville 1
8California 1
9Rutgers 6
10Penn State 11
11Arkansas 1
12UCLA 6
13Oregon 11
14Nebraska 5
15Wisconsin 9
16Ohio State 6
17Georgia Tech 9
18South Florida 8
19Boston College 3
20South Carolina 6
21Tennessee 5
22Hawaii 8
23Texas A&M 3
24Washington 2
25Virginia Tech 14



Dropped Out: TCU (#13), Auburn (#17), Georgia (#20), Oregon State (#23), Boise State (#25).
Newcomers: Washington, South Carolina, Texas A&M, South Florida