Don’t Blame Gopher Football’s Offense for Struggles

Adam Weber

It seems like it’s something new every year for the Gophers. [Read more…]

Gophers are the Same Team With or Without Brewster

Tim Brewster Fired

Changing coaches is an inevitable thing unless your name is Joe Paterno or John Gagliardi of St. John’s.  [Read more…]

When Will Joel Maturi Fire Tim Brewster?

Tim Brewster

Tim Brewster signed a contract extension this offseason that will keep him as the Gophers head coach through the 2013 season.

In a town that has been famous for terrible football coaches (Glen Mason, Mike Tice, Brad Childress), this should come as no surprise.

But only three days after the Gophers lost to USC in a game that had no business being as close as it was, it is becoming more painfully obvious that mediocrity is something not only accepted, but embraced around Minnesota’s campus.

When Minnesota Athletic Director Joel Maturi presented Tim Brewster with the two year extension, he expressed optimism about the future, saying that Brewster “deserves to coach his kids.”

[Read more…]

Tim Brewster’s Struggles Continue vs. USC

Tim Brewster came to Minneapolis with the reputation as a top notch recruiter who would bring college football excitement and energy back to the Golden Gophers’ program. To those Minnesota faithful who have seen this before, with none other than Jim Wacker, the hiring was puzzling.

This is especially the case when Gary Patterson, head coach of Texas Christian, and Lane Kiffin, USC’s current head coach, interviewed for the job. Joel Maturi must take some of the blame for this debacle.

By Patrick Herbert

[Read more…]

Are the Minnesota Gophers Really THIS Bad?

Tm Brewster Gophers

Less than twelve hours after an article stated there was no way the Gophers would struggle, let alone lose to South Dakota was posted in this same spot, the Gophers did the unthinkable. [Read more…]

2010 Minnesota Gophers Football Season Preview

With the 2010 college football season just hours away from opening for the Minnesota Gophers, Tim Brewster and Gopher faithful alike can’t be too comfortable heading into the opener at Middle Tennessee State.   [Read more…]

Insight Bowl Sheds Even More Insight on Gophers Holes

By Mike Gallagher

68 teams, 34 bowls, lots and lots of corporate sponsorships and money being thrown around.

Clearly, college football has gotten money-based to the point of any true sports fan being nauseated, as more than half of FBS teams make it to a bowl.

Obviously this makes for a lot of meaningless football, and December 31st’s Insight Bowl was, without a doubt, no exception.

Minnesota’s 14-13 loss to upstart Iowa State, however, did help re-affirm the question marks that some supporters had coming into the game.

But instead of throwing everyone from head coach Tim Brewster to freshman 6th string cornerback Lucas Duppler under the bus, because it is extremely tempting to do it after a season like this, I decided to answer some of those questions in a more positive light, as it is the start of a brand new year and a chance to turn the page.

[Read more…]

University of Minnesota Football’s All-Decade Team

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By Mike Gallagher

It seems like just yesterday the ball was dropping to culminate the new millennium.  Y2K was about to strike the world and there was supposed to be mass chaos, riots, and darkness everywhere because computers would malfunction, all because of a few digit changes.

Well folks, we survived.  Not only that, the 2000’s are almost over, and moving into a new decade makes us reminisce about the last nine-plus years.

For Minnesota Golden Gopher football, it was full of ups and downs.  Ok, more downs than ups (30-50 in the Big Ten), but there was plenty of individual talent in maroon and gold.

With 18 players that went to Minnesota currently in the NFL, and legions more former Gopher contributors out doing their 9-5 gigs, who are the best ten from the 2000s?  With much deliberating and many sleepless nights, here is your answer.

1.     Laurence Maroney, RB, 2003-2005. Maroney only started 14 games at Minnesota, but he played in 36 while splitting time with Marion Barber III and Gary Russell.  He left after his junior year and was selected 21st overall by the New England Patriots, whom he still sees significant action for.  He left Minnesota as only the third player in Big Ten history to gain over 1,000 yards three straight years, and was named an All-American in 2005 by Pro Football Weekly and Rivals.com.

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2.    Marion Barber III, RB, 2001-2004.  He had a very good freshman year, but got hurt his sophomore year and received a medical redshirt, which opened the door for Terry Jackson II to have a breakout season.  Once Barber returned, he formed an explosive tandem with Laurence Maroney.  They became the only duo in Big Ten history to rush for 1,000 yards each in back to back seasons.  Barber left after his junior year as well, and was drafted by the Cowboys in the 4th round, but has done big things since for the team.

3.    Greg Eslinger, Center, 2002-2005.  The man that blocked for Barber, Maroney, and Jackson, was a force up front.  An All-American in 2005, he also won the Outland Trophy (best interior lineman) and Dave Rimington trophy (best center).  He was drafted in the sixth round by the Denver Broncos and was last seen on their practice squad in 2008.

4.     Asad Abdul-Khaliq, QB, 2000-2003. This is a tough choice, as Abdul-Khaliq gets the nod over Adam Weber and Bryan Cuptio for the top QB spot on this list.  Khaliq’s numbers don’t jump off the page, but he only threw 25 interceptions in three years of starting and one year of splitting time.  Khaliq also led the Gophers to their only 10 win season in school history.  Some will say it was all due to the rushing game, but Khaliq managed games well and played within himself, something Weber struggles with.

Abdul-Khaliq

5.    Eric Decker, WR, 2006-2009. Decker contributed right away and came into a good situation, being thrust into the number one receiver’s role with the graduation of Logan Payne after 2006 and Ernie Wheelwright after 2007.  Decker topped 900 yards twice and was on pace for over 1,100 this year before an unfortunate injury.  He has 24 career touchdowns and was the weapon that held an otherwise lackluster offense together over the last three years.  Should he choose football over baseball, he will be drafted by the NFL.

6.    Mark Setterstrom, G, 2002-2005. Setterstrom was Greg Eslinger’s battery mate up front, and earned a great deal of honors himself.  While also blocking for Maroney and Barber, his senior year the line only allowed three sacks, lowest in school history.  He earned second team All-American honors his senior year and Rivals.com All-American his junior year.  He was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in 2006 in the 7th round, and remains on the team to this point.

7.   Bryan Cupito, QB, 2003-2006. Another close call at quarterback, but Cupito combined smart play with explosiveness and improved every year, culminating with a senior season that saw 22 td’s and only nine picks.  He held every record in the book until Weber started to take them over this year.  Still, he holds the record for career TD passes.  He now coaches a 7th grade football team in Bloomington, MN.

8.   Dominique Barber, S, 2004-2007.  On a team not known for their defense throughout the decade, Barber stands out as the top performer while he was at the school.  Darrell Reid, Michael Lehan, and Anthony Montgomery will draw more attention because of their higher draft position and better pro performances, but Barber led the team in tackling his senior year and received All-Big Ten second team honors.  He was also an All Big-Ten honorable mention his junior season when he had 74 tackles and four INT’s.  He was drafted by the Houston Texans in the 6th round and remains on their roster.

9.    Tellis Redmon, RB, 1998-2001.  Redmon is the name that often gets lost in the Gophers running back conversation.  Redmon had back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons and had a short stint in the NFL after being picked up by the Baltimore Ravens.

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10.    Adam Weber, QB, 2006-present. He has broken nearly every Gophers passing record in the books.  He put up great numbers his freshman year and was expected to do big things for the program.  He led them to a surprising start in 2008, when they got up to 18th in the nation.  But since then, things have gone the wrong way for Weber and the Gophers.  He isn’t higher on this list because of the interceptions and lack of winning.

Notables:  Ron Johnson, WR, 1998-2001: He’d be on this list had all of his years been in the 2000’s.

Terry Jackson II, Amir Pinnix, Gary Russell, Running Backs:  All had one great season, but couldn’t sustain their success.
Matt Spaeth and Ben Utecht, Tight Ends:  Both great tight ends, but in the grand scheme of the offense were never huge contributors.  Utecht had a rough freshman and senior year.  Spaeth had over 300 receiving yards only once.
Tyrone Carter, S, Ben Hamilton, C:  Both didn’t play enough in the 2000’s to make this list, but were great players.

Gophers Football Has Long Road Ahead

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By Mike Gallagher

When Tim Brewster took over the University of Minnesota’s football program three years ago, it was not a pretty sight.  That was reflected on the field in the 2007 season, when the Gophers went 1-11.

The idea from there was that the program would begin a rebuilding process that would have the team in the Big Ten’s contenders by at the earliest the third year of Brewster’s reign, but definitely the fourth.

What you have seen this year is what ultimately ruined that plan.

With the Gophers rapping up a regular season filled with hope, and then massive disappointment, things are looking as if they’ll get worse before they get better.

Looking into the stats shows nothing to inspire hope.  The offense ended the regular season 113th in the nation in yards/gm.  When an offense is this bad, you have to start at the head of the unit.  Adam Weber’s struggles have been chronicled, and were amplified this weekend vs. Iowa in which he failed to complete 50% of his passes for the fifth time in six games.  For only the second time all year, he didn’t throw an interception, but made up for it by fumbling twice.

Think he should be benched?  I did, and still don’t think it could hurt, but it’s painfully obvious that his backup, Marqueis Gray, is far from ready to captain an offense.  In limited but consistent duty this year, he completed only 38% of his passes.  He showed his football immaturity this past weekend, throwing an interception while scrambling out of the pocket.

Don’t expect much help from their targets next year, either.  The U will lose their top two receivers, Eric Decker and TE Nick Tow-Arnett, to graduation.  Aside from those two, no one else had more than 300 yards receiving, even with Decker being out the last month.

The run game isn’t exactly a beacon of light either, it ranked 108th in the nation this year.  No Gopher running back averaged more than 4.2 yards per carry this year.  You’d think over the entire season someone would break one that brought that average up a little bit, but in reality no Gopher had more than a 29-yard run on the year.

runninggame

The only good news here is that the, ahem, three headed monster, of running backs (Deleon Eskridge, Kevin Whaley, Duane Bennett) are all back next year.  Maybe with another year under their young belts, they will be able to be more of a factor in the offense.

But does is matter how good the backs are?  As we know from my other recent articles (my 4 loyal readers would know), it all starts up front and the biggest problem this year has been on the lines.  While having one of the worst run blocking teams in the nation, they have also allowed the most sacks in the Big Ten this year.  After losing center Jeff Tow-Arnett for the season with an injury, there was no hope left for this patchwork group.

The bright side for the O-line is that only Tow-Arnett is graduating, leaving four of five starters on the line.  At this point, the Gophers top recruit is an offensive lineman, Jimmy Gjere.  With Seantrel Henderson still considering the U, this is a group that could be much improved.  But even big improvement might only bring them to average after how this year went.

On the other side of the ball, it’s simple.  The defense kept the Gophers in a lot of games, including this past week vs. Iowa.  They rank smack dab in the middle of the national rankings in scoring defense, at 60th.  The bad part is that they’re graduating their entire front seven.  Nate Triplett and Lee Campbell will be sorely missed at linebacker, while they also graduate Kim Royston and Treye Simmons, key contributors in the secondary.  The defense will be gutted, leaving many to wonder how they’ll be in any games next year.

Looking at the very near future, they have a bowl-game to prepare for, what will likely be the Little Ceasers Pizza Bowl.  Obviously this game is of very little importance to this program, which is why I’m paying no attention at all to it.

little_ceasars_pizza_1

The big picture is what matters, and there’s virtually no shot that AD Joel Maturi will make a coaching change this offseason, so the Gophers are going to have to work with what they have, coach included.  What they have right now is not very much, especially heading into next year.  Brewster has gotten practically nothing from his recruits, and that will need to change in order for there to be some progress since they graduate a very productive group of 27 seniors.

This was a key year to see the direction of this team, and with the way they performed and all the talent they’re graduating, how can there be any excitement around not only this bowl game, but the years to come?

After this year, there is no light at the end of the mediocre tunnel anymore.  The tunnel just got a lot longer.  Tim Brewster needs to find a way to get more out of what he’s got, because if he doesn’t, he won’t be around to reach the end of that tunnel.

Seantrel Henderson Key for Minnesota Football

seantrel

By Mike Gallagher

You might not have heard of Seantrel Henderson.  But if you follow the college recruiting scene at all, you’re probably jumping out of your chair just by reading his name.  But for those of you not familiar, here’s what he brings to the table.

Henderson is a 6-8, 301 pound offensive tackle currently attending Cretin Derham-Hall in Saint Paul, MN.  He is an AAU basketball star, but more importantly for the Gophers, he is Rivals.com number one recruit in the nation.  As an offensive tackle, that is a mighty accomplishment.

You may recognize the names of a few other Rivals number one prospects; Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin, and Jimmy Clausen.  Ringing any bells?

Even more important to the Gophers football team is the fact that he is actually considering the U as an option.  The other five schools rumored to be in the running?  Florida, Notre Dame, USC (they already have commitments from the second and third best national prospects), Oklahoma, and Ohio State.

On that list, the team that stands out like a sore thumb is the University of Minnesota.  Obviously the prestige of the other programs dwarfs that of the Gophers, but only Henderson is the judge of that, and come signing day, only he will make that decision.

Obviously rumors have swirled about Henderson liking this school and not liking that school, but let’s throw that out because we can speculate until the sky starts falling and still will not know.  But think of the ramifications of Henderson coming to Minnesota.

All the problems for the Gophers offensively have started up front this year.  The Gophers, following pathetic performances versus Illinois (L 35-32), and South Dakota State (W 16-13), are now 112th in the nation in yards/gm.  Adam Weber is getting no time and that has left him 96th in the nation in passing efficiency, and 378th in yards.  The receivers the Gophers are left with sans Eric Decker can’t get open in two seconds, they need time that they’re not getting.

With Henderson, the offensive line could start rebuilding, and that would improve the Gophers in every area.  He is ranked as the second best pass blocker in the nation, and in any video you watch, he manhandles the guy across from him (http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=4222005).

Adam Weber (or Marqueis Gray http://thesportsbank.wpengine.com/minnesota-golden-gophers/eric-decker-out-for-season-adam-weber-should-follow/) would get more time, the receivers more time to get open, and Kevin Whaley, who has performed well at times this year, could get some holes opened for him rather than seeing a mass of humanity every carry.  Henderson is a guy that you line up against the opponents best pass rusher, and a guy you can build a run game behind.

That being said, let’s not get too carried away, too many times the Gophers have let top recruits walk right out of their backyard, including one of Henderson’s good friends and former teammates, Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd.

floyd

The implication when Tim Brewster was hired was that that kind of thing would not happen anymore.  Floyd leaving hurt the Gophers, especially looking at the team now, a playmaking receiver would be nice.

But having a rivals.com #1 talent walk out of the state would completely discredit the main reason Brewster was given this job.  Brewster has had two of his number one targets walk out on him already, and two may be a fluke, but three is a definite trend.

With the loss to Illinois two weeks ago and the pewtred performance against FCS powerhouse (if there is such a thing) SDSU in which the Gophers failed to score an offensive touchdown, it has officially fallen apart for Tim Brewster’s squad on the field.  Should Henderson walk away from his home town team for greener D-1 pastures and be the third top Gopher target to do so, surely it’s all fallen apart for Brewster off the field as well.

I completely understand that it’s a number one national prospect and it may be unrealistic to expect him to come to a Gopher team that has shown him absolutely no signs of hope the last few weeks on the field.  But he has kept Minnesota on his list for a reason, and knowing that, Tim Brewster should put the full court press on this kid.

Henderson definitely wouldn’t solve all of the Gophers problems, but he would be a GREAT place to start.

How Did Adam Weber Do That?

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By Mike Gallagher

Unlike The Question Mark shown above, I believe I do have the answer.  Adam Weber must be a loyal reader of my articles, and the one last week must’ve be so enraging that he set out to prove me wrong.  But seriously, on first glance, doesn’t that seem like the only possible explanation?

Well, as much as I wish that were true, I’m not that delusional.  I am, however, delusional enough to not back off the rather harsh article I wrote targeting Weber last week.

Don’t get me wrong, Weber had a truly spectacular performance last Saturday, throwing for 416 yards and five touchdowns.  But there were a lot of factors playing in his favor for this game.

First, and most obviously, Michigan State is surrendering 245 yards a game in the air, good, or bad, for 95th in the nation.  They gave up 300 yards and two scores to Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen, 243 and four scores to Scott Tolzien of Wisconsin, 291 and two scores to Mike Kafka of Northwestern, and 328 and three scores to Central Michigan’s Dan Lefevour.  Lefevour and Clausen are obviously very good quarterbacks, but Kafka and Tolzien have been extremely average this year.

Secondly, Michigan State had the first look at a Gopher team without Eric Decker.  Every other team knew what to game plan for when Decker was in the lineup, take him away and you’ll stop the entire offense.  Game planning for a team without it’s star player can be a good thing because that’s one less weapon you have to stop, but at the same time, the new look can be confusing.  It can also be hard to predict what exactly the team will do without it’s star player, will it stick to passing or will the running game be more of a factor.  The mystery of the situation can be difficult for a defense because you just don’t know what to expect.

Michigan State Minnesota Football

The third possible factor could be the emotional one for the Gophers.  Decker being lost for the regular season, and having given so much to this program, could’ve sparked a fire in the guys looking to step in for him and for Weber to prove Decker hasn’t made him who he is today.  This may’ve led to guys such as Duane Bennett, who had 42 receiving yards on the year, rack up the 121 he did.  Da’jon Mcknight might’ve felt the same way, his uninspiring three career catches heading into the game quickly was exceeded, as he went off for four and 98 yards.  The emotional factor can be big for tight knit groups, the win-one-for-the-gipper attitude can carry a team, if only for a week.

All those points aside, I did look like a fool this week, and give credit where it is due, it was an impressive performance by Weber and his supporting cast.  Even if the emotional aspect was part of it, that’s ok, because the guys asked to carry a bigger load last week did their job and stepped up.

The one semi-legitimate theory that has been tossed around about Weber is the idea that he was zeroing in one Decker too much on passing plays and would try to force it to him, therefore cutting down his options and making the offense extremely predictable.  The thought that having Decker out of the lineup got Weber out of tunnel-vision mode is not ludicrous, in fact it makes a lot of sense not only on the field, but off the field as well.  The two are roommates, best friends, and obviously want what’s best for one another, so maybe Weber, after being around Decker so much, was just subconsciously always looking to Decker.

adam-weber

I do not subscribe to that theory, but of all the ones I have heard, that seems the most plausible.  I tend to think that it actually is more a combination of the first three points I gave, and that with the emotional aspect not playing as big of a factor this week and Illinois being able to get a look at how not to stop Weber, this week may be a little rougher go than the last was.

That being said, we won’t learn a whole lot about who the real Adam Weber is either of these next two weeks.  Illinois is coming off it’s first Big Ten win, and while it was a decent one over a severely overrated Michigan team, don’t expect them to come into TCF and pose too much of a threat to the Gophers becoming bowl eligible.  Then there’s South Dakota State…so yeah, like I was saying, not much opposition.

Well done by Weber and company this week, but let’s not fly off the handle saying he’s a changed man and he’s a god of quarterbacking.  He had a good game in which a lot of things were going his way, let’s see him do it these next two weeks against teams he should beat, then go into Kinnick Stadium and put up a solid performance.

When he does those things, I’ll be back on the bandwagon.  Because any starting Big Ten quarterback shouldn’t have a problem accomplishing that.

Eric Decker Out For Season, Adam Weber Should Follow

eric decker

By Mike Gallagher

Finally Gophers fans got a glimpse of what life after Eric Decker will be like.  After Decker left midway through the first quarter with what was diagnosed as a high ankle sprain, not surprisingly, things got no better.  The Gophers stretched their scoreless stretch to 136 minutes and 23 seconds, before Marqueis Gray connected with Troy Stoudermire Jr.  Gray, just in for mop up duty at the end of a lopsided 38-7 loss vs. Ohio State, looked good, hitting on 5 of 6 passes for 51 yards and one score.  He also had 11 carries for 81 yards.  He was the only bright spot in an otherwise pathetic effort which saw Minnesota lose for the 13th straight time to an AP top 25 team.

Worse news came down on Tuesday, with Decker’s All-American season getting cut short by what was no longer a high ankle sprain, rather a “foot injury.”  With the only weapon on an otherwise horrendously below average offense done for the regular season, you have to wonder what the next move will be to bring some sense of improvement to this slapstick comedy routine called Gopher football.

Certainly the defense cannot be blamed, yes they gave up 38 points last week, but at the half it was only 7-0.  Before the offense and special teams started putting the D in bad positions where only inept offense would not convert, the defense was the only thing keeping Minnesota in the game.

They only gave up 20 against Penn State the week before.  Granted, Penn State’s offense is not elite, but they managed 35 vs. Michigan last week, and are the #12 team in the nation.

The offense is clearly where the problem lies, and after the coaching staff, the first one to shoulder the blame is always the man under center.  Adam Weber, as much as he has accomplished in his three years here, is no exception.

People fell in love with Weber for obvious reasons.  Firstly, the Gophers haven’t had a legitimate quarterback, EVER.  Bryan Cupito is the Gophers all time leading passer yardage wise.  Don’t worry, if I didn’t cover the team, I wouldn’t know who he is either.

Weber’s career numbers are far from spectacular, as he finished his freshman year 77th in the nation in passer rating and 58th his sophomore year.

However, that was an important show of improvement between those years.  This made critics, myself included, believe that this was to be a breakout year for Weber.  It hasn’t been.  His last three games have been the worst stretch of his career.  He is a combined 25-54 for 287 yards and five interceptions.  That leaves him 103rd of 110 eligible FBS quarterbacks in quarterback rating.  Over his last twelve games, he has gone over 60% in the completion category only twice.

Secondly, as the quarterback must take the blame, he is to accept credit for the success as well.  The jump in wins from one to seven from freshman to sophomore year made it seem a top four finish in the Big Ten was possible.  But at only 4-4 this year, the team will not be improving in the win category, and most likely will take a step backwards.  That 4-4 record now leaves the Gophers at 12-21 overall with Weber under center, and 5-16 in the Big Ten.

Third, when he came in, he was a legitimate dual threat from the QB position.  Having rushed for over 600 yards his freshman year while also throwing for almost 3,000, fans were drooling over what he would do to defenses once it all came together with the rest of the squad.  His rushing numbers, however, have fallen each of the past two years, bottoming out at -35 yards this year.

Montana St Minnesota Football

Weber’s collapse can be analyzed for days upon days, but I’d prefer to focus on the rushing aspect.  The Gophers offensive line has had it’s share of problems the last few years, since Brewster instituted the “spread offense”.  When Weber took over in 2007, he was able to make up for a lot of the mistakes the offensive line may’ve made by creating plays with his feet.  Thus resulted his, and the Gophers best offensive year under Brewster.  He was even able to do that to an extent last year, but this year he has not made any sort of effort to do so.  No injury has been reported to his legs or ankles over his career with the Gophers, so the sudden drop off in attempts to move the ball up field with his legs is mysterious.  Without that aspect of his game, and without any sort of run game whatsoever from anyone on the Gophers, he is a sitting duck in the oft-collapsed pocket.

So with Eric Decker gone, Adam Weber not living up to the hype, and the Gophers floundering in another disappointing season, it’s time to make a change.  The Gophers got an up close and personal look at what a true athletic talent can do last week when Terrelle Pryor put up 225+ passing yards and 100+ rushing yards against them.  The Gophers may not have Pryor, but they have the man that looked an awful lot like him late in the game last week.

Marqueis Gray, it’s your time to take the reigns.

now he should take off the hat, and put on the helmet

He has truly been Brewster’s best recruit, a 4-star QB out of high school, and to this point has had people wondering if he was going to pan out.  But in limited time this year, he has shown his versatility and extra components he can add to this offense.  Yes, he is extremely raw as a passer, as he had only attempted one pass at the college level before last week’s game.  At the same time, he is very quick and gifted with his feet, something Weber is not.  Those feet will, at the very least, give the defense something else to think about.  Teams won’t be able to put six or seven in the box and be comfortable with their ability to stop the run, they’ll have to bring that other safety near the line much more often with Gray under center.  This could open up some, dare I say, BIG PLAYS, words not usually used in the Gophers passing game.

Marqueis Gray is the future, but when the present isn’t amounting to anything, why wait for the future?  Adam Weber has been a very good quarterback the last two years for the Gophers, but for whatever the real reason may be, can’t seem to find the touch this year.  If Brewster does not pull him and he continues to perform at this level, do they plan on playing him next year?  Especially without his favorite target Eric Decker, that is an extremely risky decision.  Why throw another season down the drain with a guy that can’t get your program wins?  At this stage in the season, there’s no reason not to go with your future to see where it stands.

With Gray under center, you’ll still likely make a bowl, and get him key reps and experience he can take into next year.  Weber to Decker is no more, it’s time to usher in a new era.