Wisconsin Badgers go for nine straight against rival Gophers

Every time Wisconsin meets with the Minnesota Golden Gophers, Badgers coach Bret Bielema makes sure to give all of his freshman a history lesson on FBS’s oldest rivalry.

Recent history has been kind to the Badgers who have won eight straight in the illustrious battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe.

After opposite starts to the season, the Badgers and Gophers are in pursuit of the same thing and that’s a bowl game. One slight different separates them though; the Badgers are looking for a berth to a significant bowl while the Gophers are merely trying to be bowl-eligible.

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#18 Wisconsin and Minnesota Battle For The Axe (Game Preview)

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Saturday, the #18 Wisconsin Badgers (7-2, 3-2) and Minnesota Golden Gophers (2-7, 1-4) will meet for the 121st time which ranks as the most-played rivalry in FBS history.

In the last decade, the Badgers have been in full control of Paul Bunyan’s Axe as they go into the latest installment of the series winning the last seven games, including thee of them on the road in Minneapolis.

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No more “Golden Loafers” at Minnesota with Kill in charge

Jerry Kill has been making changes since he arrived at Minnesota in December. One of the most important changes has been discipline. According to linebacker Mike Rallis, one of the new disciplinary measures at Minnesota is a brown shirt with pink lettering: “Minnesota Loafers: I let my teammates down.” [Read more…]

Jerry Kill ready, excited about transition at Minnesota

Despite being in the MAC, Jerry Kill had some success against the Big Ten in his three-year tenure with Northern Illinois. Kill’s Huskies beat Purdue in 2009, and beat Minnesota in 2010, which was one of the major factors in the firing of Tim Brewster.

Now, Kill has begun to turn around the Minnesota program he beat 10 months ago. But Kill doesn’t think success at NIU will necessarily translate directly to success at Minnesota. [Read more…]

College Football 77 in 77: #77 Minnesota Golden Gophers

Minnesota Gophers mascot

At the 2010 Big Ten Tournament, I made a joke about how much I wanted to punch the University of Minnesota mascot, Goldy in the head. I’d love to watch his trademark head swivel around, except in this case put into motion by the force of a right-handed uppercut.
Three days before the 2011 BTT, a fan did just that. So when I saw Goldy Gopher again in Indy, I gave him a hug and told him “I feel your pain.” Because both the college football and the college basketball program have been dealt swift punches to the head this past year.

No more reason to inflict additional pain- they have plenty enough in Dinkytown already. Before being fired, Tim Brewster wrecked the program. And the hoops team saw their promising season crushed into bits by the season ending injury to point guard Al Nolen.

Will things get better on the East Bank of the Mighty Mississippi this school year?

By Paul M. Banks

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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.”

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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.

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Gophers Football Has Long Road Ahead

longroad

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.

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.