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.


Ken Slocumb said...

Name me a team in the last 50 years that has won, or lost by less than 3 points after 7 turnovers. I accept that we need to perform better on the field, but I don't buy that FAU is totally Coach Brewster's responsibility. When a team Captain, who is a senior, fumbles on the 1 yard line, what are you supposed to do? Let all the second guessers and bandwagon fans line up. I'll support Coach Brewster and the Gophers.

PJS said...

I'm not sure the team as a whole was prepared in the first half against FAU. I also don't think the team, as a whole, was prepared in the first half against BGSU or Miami (Ohio).

The line in the post above states that Brewster took responsibility for the loss. It was the right thing for him to do. I'd rather have him take the blame than take a shot at Weber or Pinnix for turning the ball over.

Erik said...

Hear, hear!

WWWWWW said...

YKen - you can't seriously be saying that there is a positive to take out of that loss because they only lost by three after turning it over seven times.

Freealonzo said...

Good analysis. The big thing for me this year is the Gophers showing improvement (both coaching and performance) from game 1 to game 12.

I won't mind a 1-11 or 2-10 season if by the end of the year the defense is starting to shut teams down a bit, the offense is solid in both the first and second halfs, and penalties and turnovers are reduced.

If Wisconsin rolls into the Metrodome in mid-November and pass for 450 yards I will not be happy.

Tom said...

good point freealonzo - I think asking this defense to "shut teams down" is asking a lot but an occasional 3 and out would be great to see. I would add to your list of things I'm looking for this year.

1. Improvement
2. recruitment - more and more I hear how lackadaisical Mason was in recruiting (as we see with the talent on defense). If we lose the rest of our games we still HAVE to bring in more talent. If Brewster can recruit as much as we hear he can he needs to bring in some talent right away. I don't mean a top 10 class or anything, I'm not totally off my rocker, but a few 4* and ten or more 3* guys would really be nice.

Gopher Nation

Anonymous said...

Lane Kiffin?