Posts tagged Minnesota Golden Gophers Football
Posts tagged Minnesota Golden Gophers Football
Photo credit: Jesse Johnson / US Presswire
When last place might not matter: Here’s why college football’s National Signing Day’s rankings matter and where they might be wrong
1. On Jan. 25, a high school senior named Nate Andrews from Fairhope, Ala., decided to attend Florida State University, where he would also play Division I football. Previously, he verbally committed to Minnesota, but as teenagers are wont to do, he changed his mind. Andrews hadn’t put ink to paper and even if he had, that might not have mattered. One teenage recruit this year tattooed the Auburn logo on his forearm, before ultimately deciding to rescind his commitment to attend Alabama.
It happens. According to the Andrews’s high school football coach, Andrews decided to pick Tallahassee because it was a bit closer to home and he also struck up a good relationship with FSU’s defensive coordinator, who had previously coached defensive backs at Alabama. Good enough reasons – not to mention that Florida State has a more prestigious football program than Minnesota. The change was met with frustration from the Twitter feeds and message boards relevant to Minnesota college football, but many expected Andrews to switch schools, particularly after he attracted some late interest from Alabama.
Two themes emerged from Florida State and Minnesota fans though. Gopher fans bemoaned the idea that their coach couldn’t bring in talented recruits; Florida State fans cried that their coach was bringing in too many untalented recruits. Mr. Andrews was, at the exact same time, seen as either the one who got away or the one who shouldn’t have been invited.
College football recruiting can be kind of stupid at times.
2. Meanwhile, as Mr. Andrews made his collegiate decision, another teenager named Reggie Spearman debated what school would be best for his future. In August, the linebacker prospect picked Illinois, but as he continued to visit other schools, he wasn’t so sure anymore about attending school in Champaign, Ill. Schools started swarming. Iowa offered him a scholarship, as did Minnesota, Purdue, Syracuse, Indiana and seven other schools.
When asked about his recruitment, Spearman once said, “I’m still committed to Illinois but Iowa really opened up things and I am really just undecided.” He visited a few of the schools, each place jockeying position on Rivals’s recruiting pages.
When it came time to make a decision, Spearman took out a Syracuse hat, but then dropped it and picked up an Iowa Hawkeyes cap and put it on his head. Again, that’s pretty standard in recruiting. That isn’t the disgusting part. That came from Spearman’s Twitter feed, when he retweeted the messages he received from adult men trying to convince him to attend their favorite university.
A sampling of the messages he received after choosing Iowa (everything sic):
- “lmao this dude pathetic. you are a goddamn joke son.”
- “LOL..U picked 3 losers…good luck with that.”
- “HAHAHA.. Are you delusional? Good luck. You can’t even beat Iowa State.”
There are pages more of similar stuff, although most of it is congratulatory by now.
Keep in mind, Mr. Andrews and Mr. Spearman are three-star recruits; that is, they are not considered to be among the top tier, five-star players who command the most attention. That’s when the crazy gets turned up to 11. Five-star defensive end recruit Chris Jones of Houston received death threats from fans of Ole Miss and Mississippi State when he was rumored to be picking between the schools.
Again, grown men are harassing 17 and 18-year-olds over the Internet about what college the teens should attend – to the point where they are threatening bodily harm. If reading that doesn’t give make your eyebrows and nose scrunch together – and it should – try this. Take the phrase “17-year-old boy” out of the above sentence and place “17-year-old girl” in its place.
Several writers – Spencer Hall and Adam Kramer, for example — have written about the inherent creepiness of college football recruiting, but it’s worth repeating. SB Nation’s Black Heart Gold Pants even labels all recruiting posts “Caring Is Creepy.”
Again, 17- and 18-year-olds are being hounded by grown men who they have never met in person or even talked to on the phone. They are being repeatedly told that they should attend STATE U and when these teens decide a school that isn’t Johnny Crazyperson’s favorite, the crazies let their freak flag fly.
I bristle when people compare professional sports to slavery, but I’ve much more troubled when I overhear people brashly yelling about college football recruiting like this: “Yeah, we got that boy coming to town! Locked him up!” This insanity is not evidence of how competitive college football is. It’s evidence of how many crazy people like college football.
College football recruiting is nearly always creepy.
Bielema Face photo credit: My telephone during the 2012 Rose Bowl, when Bret Bielema watched Russell Wilson spike the ball with no time remaining.
1. Only days after qualifying for a third straight Rose Bowl, Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema has decided to trade “On Wisconsin” for “Woo Pig Sooie.”
Bielema officially announced the move at a press conference on Wednesday; Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports first reported the move a day earlier.
In trading Madison, Wis., for Fayetteville, Ark., Bielema throws himself into the thunderdome that is the SEC West. Instead of going to the Big Ten Championship by default, instead of competing with Ohio State and a Penn State program about to be nailed with scholarship and bowl restrictions, Bielema will line up across the sidelines from Nick Saban and Les Miles at least once a year. Instead of trying to contain Braxton Miller for two more years, he will need to dream up ways to stop Johnny Manziel for another three. And instead of complaining about SEC recruiting tactics, Bielema finds himself in the heart of those off-season, living room battles.
The Arkansas job represents a modest annual pay bump, from the $2.5 million he earned this year at Wisconsin to a reported $3.2 million, according to the of Kurt Voigt of the Associated Press.
2. Still, why leave? Some have surmised that Bielema reached the ceiling of the Wisconsin program, that he wanted to pursue the challenge of leading the Razorbacks to a championship. He said as much to ESPN during his first press conference as Razorback head coach. Others guessed that he was frustrated watching his assistants leave for better paid jobs; he also mentioned that in those same interviews. Another theory is that if Bielema truly wants to chase a national championship, Arkansas has a better shot than Wisconsin.
But let’s consider what Bielema is trading.
Photo credit: Joseph Tobianski / AnnArbor.com
Jerry Kill has landed his first running back for next year’s recruiting class, as Rivals’s Gopher Illustrated has reported that Michigan running back Berkely Edwards has committed to the maroon and gold. What can we expect from him?
Edwards, the younger brother of former Michigan Wolverine and NFL receiver Braylon, rates as a three-star prospect according to both Rivals and Scout. The experts from Rivals, ESPN and Scout have scouted Edwards to be on the high end of three stars; Edwards’s scout grade of 77 ranks on the high end of ESPN’s “good prospects” range.
For perspective, rare, amazing prospects rank 100-90, and 89-80 is for outstanding prospects. Issac Hayes, Jamel Harbison and Andre McDonald all ranked 80 last year, while KJ Maye received a 76.
The high school senior currently measures 5-foot-9, 190 pounds and reportedly received a scholarship offer from California, among several other non-automatic qualifier schools. Iowa had been rumored to be interested in him, but apparently decided that they didn’t want to seal the young man’s fate in crushing knee injuries, questionable drug-related arrests and the general wrath of the Angry Iowa Running Back Hating God. (Iowa reportedly recently pulled its offer.)
In talking on Twitter with GopherIllustrated’s Matt O’Connell and The Daily Gopher’s MV, Edwards’s speed should get him on the field during his freshman season, as should the fact that the Gophers aren’t exactly talent rich at the position.
Donnell Kirkwood wrapped up a productive 2012 campaign, one that admittedly overshot my meager expectations for him. But while Kirkwood’s 4.26 yards per carry and 848 yards were a pleasant surprise, the play of James Gillum was a complete letdown. After totaling 14 carries in the season opener against UNLV, Gillum only had a carry in three other games, and never toted the rock more than five times when he did.
True freshman Rodrick Williams, Jr, “Nugget,” was a nice surprise, too, but at 5-foot, 11-inches and 228 pounds, he’s meant to run into people more than run away from them.
Enter Edwards, the speed back that can hopefully add another weapon to the Gopher offense. After watching some of his 2012 game film, the hope is that he can replicate what Chad Spann did for Kill and Co. at Northern Illinois.
Kirkwood, Williams and Gillum are not to blame for the team’s offensive struggles, though. The offensive line again battled injuries last year and the passing game was awful. Nationally, the Gophers ranked 108th out of 124 teams in passing yards per game. On third down, the Gophers’ quarterbacks had the third-worst completion percentage.
When teams can manhandle your patchwork offensive line — filled with the second and third names on the depth chart – and can also all but ignore your passing game, there isn’t much to suggest that your running backs are going to have a huge amount of success. If Edwards is successful running the ball in 2013, a large reason will be an offensive line receiving large contributions from upperclassmen for the first time in two years. If injuries continue to press younger linemen into duty earlier than desired, we can expect more of the same struggles up front.
While Edwards certainly shouldn’t be expected to be a program changer, he certainly brings a level of speed that the Gophers backfield has lacked during the last two years. Rivals ranks him as an all-around back, one who can play on third down and catch some passes out of the backfield. An ability to catch passes hasn’t figured much into the Kill-Limegrover system for running backs though, at least dating back to 2008. The highest reception total in five years for a running back in the Kill-Limegrover offense was 11, by Kyle Skarb in 2009. In 2012, Donnell Kirkwood led running backs with seven catches; in most screen plays, KJ Maye was used instead. He caught 11 passes on the year.
But again, Edwards’s speed is something that the program simply hasn’t had in several years and with relatively little running back depth of value currently on the roster, we should expect Edwards to figure squarely into the Gophers’ plans when the team begins fall camp.
Nov. 26, 2010
Iowa versus Minnesota, TCF Bank Field
Late in the fourth quarter, less than six minutes remaining
MarQueis Gray stands in the shotgun, a small cloud of fog appearing from his mouth as he barks signals to his offense. The late November temperature has kept the crowds in TCF Bank Stadium bundled in clothes typically suited for ice fishing or deer hunting. Gray’s dreadlocks drop just below the bottom of his helmet and move slightly as he turns his head from left to right.
The offense has stalled deep in Iowa Hawkeyes territory, as the Gophers trail 24-20, with about five minutes left in the fourth quarter. Gray’s 19-yard catch from Adam Weber kicked off the drive, but now, perched on Iowa’s 12-yard-line, the Gophers need at least four yards from this third down to convert.
With Gray behind center, a run is almost certain to be called. His only pass of the day, an over-the-middle strike overthrown by a few finger-lengths, came in the first half. Earlier on this current drive, Gray came into the game at quarterback on third down. He ran the ball. The Iowa defense knows Gray is going to run. The fans pounding together their chopper-wrapped hands know Gray is going to run. The announcers know Gray is going to run. It’s like watching Mariano Rivera stalk to the mound in the bottom of the ninth — he isn’t there to throw a change-up.
We are going through the worst place in the collegiate football world and we didn’t even know it.
Well, maybe we knew it. Maybe we just wanted to ignore it.
In preparation of this week’s Minnesota-Nebraska game, we at FBT give you our “Gophpocalypse Now” Homecoming awards, where we’ve taken several quotes from the seminal film “Apocalypse Now” and set them to an event or person that has become noteworthy during this apocalyptic 2011 Golden Gopher football season. If there’s one you think we missed, feel free to add it in the comments section.
You’ll notice that we’ve pretty much ignored any history of the Nebraska-Minnesota series and don’t really talk specifics about the game ahead. That’s by design.
Tim Brewster recently sat down with everyone’s favorite little birdie, Charley Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, and spoke about his ill-fated tenure as coach of the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Since there were a couple of lines involved that I wanted to particularly highlight, I thought we should do this line-by-line, FireJoeMorgan/Fun With Peter King style. Here goes, Shooter’s article is in bold.
Tim Brewster, fired last year midway through his fourth season as University of Minnesota football coach, said he has one major regret about his tenure with the Gophers.
Wait, one major regret? One? That’s it? This is going to be tough to guess. Is it burning all of the redshirts in his second year, which combined with half of the recruitings that didn’t ever enroll left the current junior class extremely light?
Was it failing to make strong in-roads with coordinators and staff members, which led to a revolving door of coaches? (That revolving door allowing one Kevin Cosgrove to earn compensation on your coaching staff? That could be it.)
There was the whole “holding on to a scholarship with the Powerball lottery hopes that mega-recruit Seantrel Henderson would pick Minnesota for college” idea — he didn’t — and then of course there was the whole, committing secondary recruiting violations in that failed pursuit. That didn’t go down well. Maybe Brew will pick that.
Could it be all of the draw plays on third and long? I’d really appreciate it if that’s what it was. Or maybe it was mentioning the Rose Bowl in his first press conference, that was rough. Holding up the piece of turf later was something that was heavily lampooned, especially since he failed to beat any of the Gophers’ rivals during his three-plus years. Diving on the Metrodome turf near the closing seconds of his first game was pretty lamentable, too.
Alright, we have to pick just one, I’ll say it was calling Pat Reusse fat over Twitter before quickly deleting it.
Denard Robinson is good. Insane good. Silly good. The kind of good where you watch him fillet your favorite team’s defense and you’re left giggling as you make clown faces, saying“Are you freaking kidding me?” to those sitting in your section.
Robinson ran for 258 yards one game last year. Two weeks later, he ran for another 217 yards. As a sophomore, he set the all-time record for rushing yards in one season by a quarterback. He compiled the NCAA’s only 1,500 yard passing and rushing season ever, in any division.
He defies most, if not all, on-field football comparisons, like when people would say someone was the “new Jordan” years ago. The only real likeness to Robinson comes in abstract terms, like calling Robinson some kind of new-age Cool Papa Bell. Bell played baseball, but was known as one of the fastest people in baseball history. My favorite folk tale about him comes from Satchell Page, in that Bell was “so fast that you could turn off the light and be under the covers, before the room got dark.” Paige wasn’t lying per se, he just forgot to mention that the hotel room in particular had faulty writing, causing a slight delay between the light switch and the bulb.
Robinson is “turn the lights out, jump into bed before the room gets dark” fast.
I realize my favorite squad isn’t going to challenge for the conference title; I just want to see them beat a rival and make a bowl. Leave me entertained, overachieve a bit, that’s it. However it happens doesn’t really matter. Lose in some lower-tier WeedWacker Bowl? I don’t care. Just beat Wisconsin on the way there.
And of course, get to that WeedWacker Bowl.
Whenever I look at the schedule at the start of the season, I start counting down wins. I shouldn’t overlook this team or that team —especially when I’m follow the Golden Gophers — but I’m an irrational fan. It’s what we do, we use incorrect pronouns when talking about our favorite sports team. It doesn’t matter that a season ago, a coach was fired, the team spiraled off the tracks and sank into the depths of a nine-game losing streak. We beat Iowa. We got a new coach. We played on ABC national television to nearly the entire country last week against the No. 25-ranked USC Trojans and ESPN’s Pat Forde even picked us to pull off an upset. The Gophs nearly did it, too.
(Note: With the Gophers set to begin the season, I thought I would move the computer to the living room and crank out a running diary of the game.)
Welcome to the Jerry Kill and MarQueis Gray era! So excited to finally be here, just so we won’t have to see several draw plays on third and long. Seriously, if Jerry Kill and Matt Limegrover run one draw in that situation today, I’m considering it a loss.
We’re rolling with ABC’s broadcasting crew of Carter Blackburn, Brock Huard and Shelley Smith. We dodged a huge bullet here; the team of Mike Patrick and Craig James are taking the Western Michigan-Michigan game on ESPN2. I’d like to take this time to say that, in no way, did Craig James kill five hookers. It’s a lie, it never happened and I’m definitely not typing that awkwardly so that the phrase “Craig James killed five hookers” gets higher in the Google search index. Again, it’s NOT TRUE that Craig James killed five hookers. He’s a man of integrity who lied under oath and conspired to get a college football coach fired because his son was an entitled baby.
But Craig James did not kill five women, last we checked.