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…]

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

[Read more…]

Grading Minnesota Gophers 2010 Signing Day

By Mike Gallagher

4:30 in the early evening on Wednesday February 3rd, 2010 rolled around, and Seantrel Henderson broke Minnesota fans hearts.

After much speculation and months of waiting, three letters were on the lips of the best lineman in the nation. [Read more…]

With Signing Day Here, Gophers Look Out of Running for Seantrel Henderson

By Mike Gallagher

Seantrel Henderson is one of the best recruits to ever come out of Minnesota, and it looks as if he’ll be the best one ever to get away.

With signing day on February 3rd, Henderson is set to announce his decision on CBS College Sports Network at 4:30 p.m. central time.

Not a person that can be found on earth knows what school Henderson is going to go with, and a dry run a few hours ago in the CBS College studios wielded no hint of it, either.

The one detail we do know, which is completely insignificant, is that it may not involve a hat selection, just a verbal revealing of the choice.

[Read more…]

Gophers, Brewster Talking Contract Extension

By Mike Gallagher

If this were a bar, Gophers AD Joel Maturi would be cutoff.

“The fact of the matter is we’re 6-6, if we win our bowl game, we’ll be 7-6.  That’s one game better than when Brewster took over the program three years ago.”

Wow.  That was Maturi a few days before the Gophers DID NOT win the Insight Bowl vs. Iowa State, thus making the Gophers record the same as it was the last year before the Brewster reign of terror began.

Even if the Gophers had won the bowl game, think of the hilarity of that comment.  How low must expectations be that an improvement of one win over three seasons is acceptable?

[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…]

Gophers Are in Familiar Territory at Insight Bowl

insightbowl

By Mike Gallagher

Success is measured by where expectations were set for a certain team or player for the period of time in question.  Take, for instance, Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans.  He had six 125 yard games in a row heading into the contest against the undefeated Colts last week.  His 113 yards, while it was tied for second-best performance of the week, was considered an off-game.

Now take the Minnesota Gophers football team.  While they made it to the Insight Bowl, facing Iowa State in Tempe, Arizona on December 31st, the expectation was for eight or nine wins this year to improve on the total of seven last year.  This is also the third time in four years they have gone to the same bowl, a huge sign that there is little to no progression in the program.  Not exactly sounding like a great deal of success?

Let’s next look at Iowa State.  Back in the glory days of Sage Rosenfels, who led the Cyclones to their first bowl berth and subsequent victory in 2000, and Seneca Wallace, who led them to two more bowls after Rosenfels departure, wins were flowing and the times were good in Ames.  But after two seasons under Gene Chizik netted only five wins before he flew the coupe for Auburn, Iowa State had to re-tool and go on a coaching search.

seneca

Enter Paul Rhoads.  Coincidently, Rhoads was the Auburn defensive coordinator when Chizik was at Iowa State.  The two flipped schools, with Chizik taking over at Auburn as the head coach when Tommy Tuberville retired.  Rhoads was very emotional when he took the job in late 2008 with the Cyclones, as he had grown up right down the road from Ames in Nevada, Iowa.

Obviously, the Cyclones were hungry to make their new coach proud.  Behind the legs of 1,000-yard back Alexander Robinson, who the Cyclones snatched out of the back pocket of the Gophers from De La Salle High School in Minneapolis, they did just that.

Iowa State went 6-6 with a big quality win on the road against Big 12 North champion Nebraska, and with a tough 41-36 loss against then ranked Kansas.  They made their first bowl since 2005 and beat their win total from the last two years combined.

The way this year went for Iowa State sounds like one word.  Success.

The Gophers went 6-6 this year, were 4-3 on the road, 2-3 at home, 3-5 in the conference, scored 21.6 ppg, gave up 24.6 ppg, have averaged 198 yards passing/gm, have a starting QB with a rating of 113, and finished 8th in the Big Ten.

The Cyclones went 6-6 this year, 4-3 on the road, 2-3 at home, 3-5 in the conference, scored 21.1 ppg, gave up 22.6 ppg, have averaged 182 yards passing/gm, have a starting QB with a rating of 119, and if you combine the Big 12 North and South, they would’ve finished tied for 8th in the conference.

rhoads

With two teams so evenly matched, it’s hard to imagine momentum and confidence not playing a key role in this game.

The momentum will go to the team that has been, by our definition, successful.  The team that has accomplished something this year, and the team that’s going forward.

Iowa State is a great story and should be praised for the way they’ve taken to Paul Rhoads philosophy and tactics right away.  It can sometimes take a while for players to adjust and buy in, such as the team on the other sideline during the Insight Bowl, three years and still no sign of adjustments or success for the Gophers.  Iowa State players believed and it’s paid off.

Belief and confidence will be the difference in this game, and believe Alex Robinson will have a little revenge on his mind to mix in with the other ingredients that could equal a win for the Cyclones.

University of Minnesota Football’s All-Decade Team

gophers

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.

laurence_maroney_001

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.

minn-redmon

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.

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.