Saturday, September 8, 2007

Reflecting On Brewster's First Win

I want to have patience with Tim Brewster. I want to give him time to do what he was supposedly brought in to do: recruit. But, it's hard to watch the Gophers do the exact things that Glen Mason was run out of town for.

Jon at The National Anthem Before A Cubs Game says it well here.

"You see, we got rid of Glen Mason, at least in part, to change the attitude of the program. To make sure that we did not again endure the ignominy of Northwestern 2000 or Michigan 2003 or Wisconsin 2005 or Texas Tech 2006.

The Gophers under Mason were a program built on failure at the end of games; under Brewster, we assumed that things might be different. Instead, the Gophers came from ahead to lose to Bowling Green last week, and came from even farther ahead to nearly lose against Miami. Had the RedHawks' Trevor Cook been able to make a chip-shot field goal, it would have gone down as one of the ten worst losses of the last ten years (and given Mason's tenure, that's a difficult list to crack.)"


I'm going to cringe while Tim Brewster and Mike Dunbar struggle to find enough competent receivers to run the spread, but I'll swallow hard and accept that. But there was a short segment of Saturday's game against Miami (Ohio) that was unforgiveable. I touched on this in the game thread below but it deserves repeating.

With the game on the line, and the Gophers protecting a lead, Dunbar passed more than he ran. Forget about running down that clock with a good offensive line (against a smallish defensive line) and a great running back. Instead, Dunbar decided to chuck the ball around the field, with his still young and inexperienced quarterback. Described as the "extreme schemer," Dunbar's only scheming Saturday almost led to an 0-2 start against two unheralded MAC teams.

Glen Mason became known for losing games that no one else could lose. If Tim Brewster is to avoid the boo birds, he needs to veto Mike Dunbar's decisions in times like that and play smart, ball-control football.

There were some good things Saturday. Adam Weber looked more poised than a week before. Mike Chambers looked OK now back playing his true position of wide receiver. Jamal Harris stood out in a porus secondary. Amir Pinnix went over 100 yards for the second straight game, and it doesn't even feel like he's being used like a feature back.

And there were other negatives. I still haven't seen Willie VanDeSteeg make any sort of play. Ryan Collado was embarrassed on numerous plays. Collado's a freshman and desrves some slack, but, still, he was worked on more than one occassion. The tackling was questionable. The defensive line and blitz packages provided minimal pressure on the RedHawk quarterbacks. And once the Gophers were up three scores in the fourth quarter, the defense went into rush-three mode until the third overtime.

Brewster's first win could have been easy in the last five minutes Saturday if it weren't for poor decisions by Dunbar (passing instead of running the clock) and defensive coordinator Everett Withers (playing far too soft and letting Miami pick its way up and down the field). The Gophers did, however, get Brewster that win. And they're lucky they did.

Otherwise, Saturday's tilt against Miami (Ohio) could have ranked right up there with the games Jon mentioned: Michigan 2003, Texas Tech 2006, Wisconsin 2005 and Northwestern 2000.


lonebadger said...

I Haven't been able to see a single snap of Minnesota football yet this year. They are not on any of my channels. I know you will say that I am lucky but I would like to see them before I comment on them. I was ready to ride you guys for another poor performance, but after the performance of the Badgers, I cannot, in good conscience, criticize any other team.(yet) But by reading this blog it seems that the Gophers are the worst team in the Big Ten. Maybe the MAC is actually better than the Big Ten. Maybe your tough games are behind you. One can always hope.

Jon Marthaler said...

Appreciate the kudos.

Mike Dunbar, if we're lucky, will be onto his third team in three years, by this time in 2008.

PJS said...

lonebadger, in some respects the Gophers improved this week. Weber took giant steps forward. It was more the coaching, IMO, that turned a lopsided 28-12 game into an overtime tilt.

After watching Wisconsin and Michigan lose, Northwestern struggle and Ohio State look unimpressive--and Michigan State battle with Bowling Green--the Gophers might actually have a fighting chance in the Big Ten.

But Dunbar, like Jon suggests, has to do a better job coaching the offense in tight situations.

Anonymous said...

Minnesota a fighting chance in the big 10? please stop. You sound ridiculous. You know this, right?


PJS said...

anon--not necessarilly to win the Big 10 title, but to win some games. Wisconsin wasn't impressive at all last night. Michigan looks plain awful. Ohio State doesn't look like they have in year's past.

T-Bone said...

You must have missed Willie VST slice thru the line and slam the Miami of Ohio running back onto the turf for a loss. I couldn't have missed it because the Big Ten Network showed it a couple of times on replay and then several other times when they would either go to or come back from commercial. Also, Willie is playing with a broken hand which happened during practice earlier in the week. For more on that, read Sid Hartman's commentary in the Minneapolis Star Trib.

PJS said...

I did see that play, t-bone. And I know he's playing with a broken hand, which he said isn't a problem. So that makes one play in two games against two MAC opponents. If he's a bonafide 'star' as he's been described, then one play isn't enough.

T-Bone said...

Willie is ranked number 4 in the Big 10 with tackles for a loss with 3.5 so that's hardly NOT doing enough. I do wish he would have some sacks already but man, he's getting double teamed and sometimes there's a running back staying back and chipping him too before going out into the flat. Being the bona fide is what's getting him the double teams. Now he's got to work thru that.
Yes, it's MAC opponents, but so is several of the other Big Ten teams opponents so far. Oh yeah, here's the URL for my info..

Ken Slocumb - life long Gopher fan, win or lose said...

I was confused about your comments from the first sentence. You're going to cringe while the Minnesota offense tries to find receivers? The Minnesota offense has problems? Did we watch the same team? Sure some mistakes were made in strategy, mostly short yardage, not passing.

They've played two games with this scheme. Jeesh.

Indirectly, you take a coach to task because the results remind us of Glen Mason when all but a handful of the players were recruited by Mason. Do you hibernate in the off-season?

Dunbar has already given a redshirt freshman QB the gameplan and confidence to be hitting stride after just two games. His stats this year might surpass Brian Cupito's senior year, and while you snicker at that, I'll remember that Cupito is the alltime passing leader at Minnesota.

The offense didn't create any of the problems we faced in our first two games. The problems came from a breakdown in the defense. You know, the same defense that you expended one sentence of analysis on? The same defense that lost three players to a rape case, two of them starters? The same defense that is starting several of that handful of freshmen our coach recruited and had to force onto the field to give us whatever chance of success we do have?

I gotta tell you man, between your love for Patrick Reusse and your lack of time to come up with your own analysis, your blog is on a downhill slide that would be spectacular in the Aspen ski area, let alone in the flatlands of Minnesota.