Thursday, November 13, 2008

How good are the Gophers?

I ask not sarcastically but seriously. Because Minnesota's turnaround from last year's one-year disaster has been a popular talking point around college football, and Tim Brewster has been mentioned as a coach of the year candidate.

Looking closer, it appears:

-The Gophers were probably better last year than their one win indicated, although not by much.

-The Gophers are the beneficiary of a favorable non-conference schedule and Big Ten schedule that is missing two of the conference's three best teams. The non-conference wins came against Northern Illinois, Bowling Green, Montana State, and Florida Atlantic. Northern and MSU are the Gophers' only two victims with winning records.

In the Big Ten, Minnesota has beaten Indiana, which is awful; Purdue, which is almost as bad; and Illinois, which just lost to Western Michigan. (Granted, Wisconsin's resume is similarly skimpy, but that's not the point of this discussion.)

-The Gophers are adding more talent and should return to being the formidable border rival they were during the best Glen Mason years.

-Adam Weber has progressed nicely from his freshman season, cutting his interception down to five thus far after 19 last year. The good thing is we're looking far better against the Spread this season than we have in the past. Weber did a lot of good things against us in the Dome last year.

-The Gophers have been getting attention for forcing a lot of turnovers on defense, but their performance against a thoroughly mediocre Michigan offense shows that they are far from impenetrable. Their defense actually yields 27 yards per game more than their offense gains.

(Like us in Ann Arbor, Minnesota has to have a "will we ever?" outlook on its series with Michigan right about now.)

I'm guessing that we'll be able to run on them, not like we did last year or last week against Indiana, but still, run effectively. Given that Minnesota's DBs seem opportunistic and I still get scared every time Dustin Sherer drops back, running the ball about 60 times is my prescription for success.

-Minnesota changes its uniforms as often as West Bend East High School, with similar results. You're not Oregon, guys, pick a combination and go with it.

1 comment:

The Truth said...

One thing I know. If Decker doesn't play, the Gopher offense is not very good.