Sunday, November 18, 2007

Wisconsin-Minnesota postgame thoughts

Yesterday was fairly draining, but all ended well. There's going to be two posts about the game, one focusing on the game, and one focusing on what a joke of a program Tim Brewster is cultivating here at Minnesota.

-What a tremendous game by Zach Brown. Let's do some clarification here. Last week I compared him to Eddie Faulkner, a career backup. Several of my friends challenged that Zach is much better than Eddie. I will agree, but still see him as a backup, mainly because of the guys who should be ahead of him. This just speaks to the depth of the program and how the overall talent level has been upgraded in the last decade.

-Even against a horrible defense like Minnesota's, give props the line for opening the holes for Zach. And it was another next-man-in scenario, when Bill Nagy replaced the injured John Moffitt. Once again, surprising that Danny Kaye and Jake Bscherer didn't get a call, but it worked out.

-David Gilreath has been an emotional roller coaster all year, and Saturday he went out on a high note in front of the program he originally committed to. Like the running game, credit the blocking, he had gaping holes to work with, but credit him for taking advantage.

-Been up and down all year about Tyler Donovan too, and he didn't have his best game yesterday, but he won, and won with two bruised hands. The kid's tougher than nails and a winner ... can we compare him to Mike Samuel, only a better passer ... and runner?

-Once again Travis Beckum was the best player on the field. Someone in our group said "I think Travis has gone to his last class," and I can't disagree. Looks like an injured shoulder, hopefully he's ready for the bowl game.

-Love that Ben Strickland once again made a huge play to seal a win here. Our program succeeds with classy kids like Ben, not jackasses like Eric Decker and Clint Brewster.

-Elijah Hodge was hurt, Culmer St. Jean played okay in his place. Jae McFadden seemed to be back as well, didn't notice him that much.

-Another mediocre game for Jack Ikegwuonu, although getting punched in the groin by Decker didn't help.

-Thought we may have figured out how to defend the spread after beating an Indiana team with superior playmakers to the Gophers, but they really moved the ball well at times, without any semblance of a Division I running back on the field. Not having Hodge, Jason Chapman and Allen Langford might have had something to do with it.

-All Shane Carter does is catch interceptions. In a way he's comparable to Jim Leonhard, although Jimmy may have been better in run support.

-Another excellent game by the unsung hero, Ken DeBauche.

-One of my other favorite unsung players this season has been Daven Jones, and he made some intangible plays yesterday. He's done some terrific work on special teams, and I hope he ends up contributing at wide receiver to the level he was projected at coming out of high school.

-Adam Weber has a bright future for Minnesota, even if they stay with the spread. He's not nearly as athletic as I thought he was, and his passing needs polish, but he racked up over 400 yards of total offense on us.

-I'm going to miss Minnesota punter Justin Kucek, he's given Badger fans so many good memories.

Overall, we're 9-3 and have a shot to go a January bowl game. Ohio State's in a BCS game for sure; crazy things might happen to allow Illinois to get in there as well. If we play in the Outback Bowl, I hope it's against a new opponent like Tennessee. The Alamo Bowl wouldn't be bad, either, and the Big 12 opponent might be more beatable than one from the SEC.

So the regular season is over and we're not staring at a BCS game or national title game berth, but you know what? Good season. Nine wins for the fourth straight year, another winning record in Big Ten play, beat Michigan, beat Minnesota, 1,000-yard rusher, All-American tight end, undefeated at home sold out Camp Randall. All this even with a ton of injuries and other adversity. Nice job by the coaching staff keeping it all together this year.

I'm a glass-half-full guy this morning.

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