Thursday, August 28, 2008

Minnesota Football: Nowhere To Go But Up!

Tim Brewster can sell a ketchup popsicle to a lady in white gloves. That's the only way I can rationalize the recruiting classes he has pulled in the last two years. Seemingly out of nowhere, the Gophers have hauled quite their share of 4 star recruits, largely due to Brewster and his relentless optimism.
"Coach, how many games did you lose last year?"
"Doesn't matter, we don't live in the past. But did you know that Minnesota football has won 18 Big Ten Championships, had um-teen All-Americans, and won 6 National Championships?"

For a coach that doesn't live in the past, Timmay! Brewster is quick to pull out the glory statistics from prior to the 1950's. Whatever he's selling up there, it's working...kind of. His class last year ranked in the Top 20 in the country. But this week, reports came out this week that Minnesota's freshman football players had the lowest ACT average of all the Big Ten teams with a 17.2 average. 17.2! That is patently absurd, and will be covered in a later post. Also, some of the highly ranked recruits have had trouble staying on campus thus far. Arguably the star of this year's class, QB MarQueis Gray has yet to pass the NCAA Clearinghouse. Three others from this year's class are not with the team either, two of which did not gain admission to the University. Five out of the 8 recruits Brewster added to last year's class are no longer with the team either. And for icing on the cake, Brewster brought in 8 JUCO players who are traditionally academic risks (thus why they went to JUCO in the first place).

Why take such risks on players with great football talent but probably will struggle academically? Because Minnesota football was absolutely terrible last year. T-E-R-R-IBLE. While 2008 looks better, it's only because it can't possibly be worse. The Golden Gophers return a legit quarterback in Adam Weber, and a rising star in wide receiver Eric Decker. The duo will be the pulse of the offense for the gophers, and where they go, the gophers go. Complementing Weber and Decker, Jack Simmons returns for a 5th year at tight end. (True Story: he played on my little bro's bball team as a youth. One day I scrimmaged with them, and when guarding Simmons he dribbled through my legs before scoring. Slightly embarrasing...and I was older than him)

On the defensive side of the ball, welcome to Junior College. Former Duke coach Ted Roof will look to improve the nation's worst defense from last year with the help of numerous JUCO players. DT Tim McGee, DE Cedric McKinley, LB Simoni Lawrence, CB Tremaine Brock, and S Trae Simmmons will all be counted to play extensive minutes, if not start. They may not be worst in the nation this year, but they certainly won't be the best. Expect another long season if the defense can't find ways to get off the field on 3rd down.

And to be honest, this defense will have trouble getting off the field on 3rd down. This defense will have trouble getting off the field on any down. So much so that when I play against them in NCAA 2009, I don't think I have ever punted. Not once. And that's how I think the season will go for the Gophers this year. Weber and Decker will put up some points, Brewster will provide insane amounts of hilarious quotes, and the defense will give up points. On the bright side, they have the potential to increase their win total by 400%. That's not a typo, it's just a matter of them only winning one game last year. Look for the Gophers to sweep their non-conference games...and get swept in their conference ones. Better luck next year Timmay!

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