Saturday, August 25, 2007
Big 10 Preview: Minnesota
You may not realize that the Minnesota Golden Gophers went to 7 bowl games in 8 years under Glen Mason. He may have been a wily old tomcat who spent more time in gin joints than he did watching film. He may have blown a 31 point lead in the second half to lose to Texas Tech in the Insight Bowl last season. He may have once battled me for the affections of an underage co-ed the night before the Kansas/Kansas State game at Kelly's in the mid-90's (while he was the head coach at Kansas). But you can't argue with success and Minnesota won games under Glen Mason. You won't be able to say the same after Tim Brewster's first season as head coach. I'm not convinced Brewster was a good hire, based on the fact that he's never even been a coordinator before. He's been hung with the "great recruiter" tag, which is how he got the job, but can he rebuild a program? Given the Gophers history, he'll get the chance. Their diminished expectations are just what the Doctor ordered for a first time head coach. If he wins 1 game they aren't supposed to this season his first year will be considered a success. Their best shot at an upset is when Purdue comes to town on September 22nd. Yeah, a slim chance at beating Purdue might be the highlight of their season. It's like that. Aren't you excited Gopher fans?
Brewster is replacing Glen Mason's smash you in the face running game with a spread offense. Cool, eh? Problem is, 3-year starter and Minnesota's all-time leading passer Bryan Cupito (I know, he sucked, right? All-time leading passer? Wow. Not a lot of good QB's up there.) is gone. They always had an explosive offense under Glen Mason so I'm giving them a significant downgrade on the offensive side of the ball this season. Will the spread work at Minnesota? Not with inexperienced players at QB and WR it won't. They lost half of 2006's receptions to "graduation". QB1 will likely be the coach's son, Clint Brewster. I love shit like that. I can see them sitting around the nursing home in 20 years when a bitter and still shaken Clint says, "Hey, Pa? 'Member when we couldn't beat North Dakota St, at home? Member when you told those reporters it was my fault? Remember when mom left and you got fired after 2 years and took that job at the dealership in Coon Rapids?" Seriously, this is the only reason to watch Minnesota this year. This school is so far under the radar and has such a crappy PR Department that they had the amazingly awesome Laurence Maroney for 3 years and I didn't know he wore a diamond encrusted Kool-Aid medallion. What they fuck are they doing up there? Someone needs to introduce them to Facebook? Get with the times, mother fuckers.
It's at this point where I'm contractually obligated to talk about their defense (which allowed nearly 500 YPG last year). DE Willie Van DeSteeg is solid. They're bringing in some new guys. They have a new coordinator. So they have to be better this year... or do they? I can't talk about the Gophers D anymore.
The Gophers were 6-7 last season even though they were +18 in Turnover ratio. Translation: They got all the breaks and still couldn't pull out a winning season. What does all of this add up to? A really shitty team. How shitty? Shitty enough that I don't think they'll win a conference game. If they can steal one at Florida Atlantic and squeak one out against I-AA North Dakota State in October, they're staring a 2-10 season right in the face. I'm thinking on the evening of November 3rd (when they get waxed by the Zook Hook), at the Kitty Kat Klub (I did not make that up), deep in the bowels of Gopher Nation, they'll hearken back to the glory days of Glen Mason, shed a few rotund tears into their skunky fucking Pig's Eye, and wonder where it all went wrong. Simultaneously, on a bar stool somewhere in South Florida, a tanned, bemused, wholly intoxicated, Glen Mason will see the Minnesota-Illinois score, bellow a hearty laugh, throw down his tenth shot of Jameson's, and enthusiastically chase a frightened co-ed out the door. The more things change, the more they remain the same.