Elliot Mann's Blog

Posts tagged Tim Brewster

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Gopher football 15 for 2012: No. 13 - Dan Orseske

13. Dan Orseske | P | Junior (RS) | 6'3” 205 lbs
G   PT   YDS    AVG   IN20YD 
12  57   2,111  37.0  12

Don’t x-out the window! Listen to me first.

I know, it’s hard to get too hyped-up about a punter, especially on a team with glaring questions on defense and offense. (For example, Minnesota’s top returning players at running back and wide receiver totaled 229 yards and 190 yards last year, respectively.) But if the Gophers are going to succeed, they need to be a team that minimizes mistakes and takes advantage of field position. Yes, that’s much more boring than relying on spectacular 65-yard touchdown runs from the likes of Denard Robinson or Braxton Miller.

But plainly stated, the Gophers simply aren’t good enough to overcome punts like this:

Orseske has a powerful leg, but for whatever reason, he’s been inconsistent to the point of being ineffective. After a 9-yard punt – with the wind – he was benched against Northwestern. That came a week after the above 4-yarder, which he downed himself.

Here’s the Cliff Notes of Orseske’s career: He had a few good kicks as a freshman, but then came down with mononucleosis and was redshirted. In 2010, then-coach Tim Brewster and his staff changed Orseske’s kicking form to a rugby style. If you watched a game, you noticed the difference, not only as Orseske took a few steps to the left and then kicked, but also in the lack of distance the kicks sailed.

It wasn’t something the kicker had done previously, which showed.

Call it a microcosm of Brewster’s coaching strategy, but the Gophers ranked 120th, dead last in Division I football, in punting average that year.

Before last season, Coach Jerry Kill talked to the Star-Tribune about Orseske needing more confidence and needing to provide him with better coaching. Gone, for example, were the rugby-style punts. Still, there was virtually no improvement in 2011 as Orseske’s average punt improved by less than a yard. Once again, the punter was learning different footwork, but it’s hard to blame all of his struggles on coaching turnover.

He kicked into the wind a few times with disastrous results; he had several games with punts that didn’t pass 10 yards. There was a six-yard punt against Illinois (along with three kicks between 20 and 30 yards that day) and against the wind in Michigan, he had a 14-yard kick and a 7-yard kick. The Michigan game showed the punter’s inconsistency, too, as he started the game with a 64-yarder along with four other punts that game of more than 40 yards.

Whether Orseske’s problem is technical or mental is unclear, but he can absolutely boot the football when the planets align. He boomed a kick 68 yards against Iowa last year and had six punts of 50 yards or more in 2011.

Still, if he continues to struggle, look of rsenior David Schwerman and redshirt freshman Peter Mortell to push him out of a starting position.

If the Gophers are going to reach bowl eligibility, they are going to have to overachieve, they are going to have to win some games they shouldn’t and they are going to have to play mistake-free, ball control football. Giving the defense strong field position will be a large part of that and if the Gophers will be successful this year, Orseske will need to minimize his single-digit punts and deliver more consistently.

Filed under Minnesota Golden Gophers Minnesota Gophers Minnesota Golden Gophers Football Gopher football Gopher football 15 for 2012 Dan Orseske Jerry Kill Tim Brewster wisconsin badgers Punting Big Ten football

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National Guessing Day

What can we really tell from team-by-team National Signing Day recruiting rankings? Are recruiting rankings a predictor of future success? Or are they swayed toward big-time, big-name programs and prospects in Texas, California and Florida?

Tim Brewster sprawling on turf, Star Tribune (c)

Photo credit: Jim Gehrz, Star Tribune

(Ed. Note: I wrote this back in March, while staying in Zimbabwe. I held off publishing it to possibly use it in hopes for a different blog, but rather than let this continue to sit, I’d like to get it out there. To kick off Gopher camp, I figured I would bring it out, as well as some more regular posts in the coming days. EM)

1.

In early 2008, the Minnesota Golden Gophers had just wrapped up an atrocious season, one that would have gone completely winless if not for an early season win in triple overtime against an under .500 team from the Mid-American Conference. But later next February, there the Gophers were, sprinkled between Texas A&M and Virginia Tech within the top 25 recruiting rankings. Coach Tim Brewster and company brought the excitement of the Dinkytown faithful to a level never before reached in the short history of the Rivals.com lists on National Signing Day.

Even though Minnesota was once the class of major college football, those championship banners were raised decades ago, long before these incoming 17 and 18 year-olds had been born, and likely before even their parents had been born. It was what Brewster, an unproven hire, had been brought in to accomplish, to bring in players that otherwise tabbed Minneapolis as a cold Omaha. The dandy of a recruiting ranking, which seemingly dominated anything that Brewster’s predecessor Glen Mason accomplished recruiting wise, had Big Ten and Gopher football message boards alike buzzing.

"This class is phenomenal. Minnesota has to be one of the biggest stories nationally," said Tom Lemming, possibly one of most well-known and thorough national recruiting analysts, at the time to the Star-Tribune in Minneapolis. “I believe Tim is one of the Top 10 recruiters I’ve ever seen and he’s showing why with this class. Recruiting is all about perception and nobody does it better than Tim. I’ve been doing this since 1978 and this is the best class that Minnesota has brought in when you talk about pure athletes.”

For those who aren’t ardent Saturday football fans, you’ll probably remember Lemming from a brief cameo in the film adaption of “The Blind Side.” The reviews poured in from other recruiting analysts as well, from credible sources who make a 9-to-5 living off of scouting players and analyzing them for college programs.

 "There’s no question that Minnesota’s class goes down as the biggest surprise in the nation for me," said Jeremy Crabtree, Rivals.com national recruiting analyst. “We knew he could recruit when he was at Texas and other places, but the job that he did this season with the results on the field is amazing. He’s surrounded himself with great assistant coaches that work just as hard as he does, and the end result is a class chock-full of impact guys that should help them out right away.”

Meanwhile, Zach Johnson, recruiting editor for Rivals-based GophersIllustrated.com, told a Star-Tribune reporter that it was the best recruiting class in Golden Gopher football history. 

At his first press conference a few years earlier, Brewster promised such recruiting victories, which he said would not only leads to wins against the hated Wisconsin Badgers and Iowa Hawkeyes, but also to the Rose Bowl, the “Granddaddy of ‘Em All.”

"We’re going to win the Big Ten championship and we’re going to take the Gopher Nation to Pasadena," Brewster said at the time to the cadre of reporters. "That’s my dream, that’s my goal and that’s my belief. It will happen here sooner rather than later."

Tim Brewster, upset

Brewster’s first true class delivered according to the experts. The Gophers now had the athletes to compete with upper echelon schools. But less than three years later, two offensive and defensive coordinators each had abandoned ship, the Gophers never won more than seven games in a season and Brewster was fired in the midst of a 1-6 season. Even in the seven win season when the team had briefly reached the top 25, they ended the season on a five-game losing streak, including a 55-0 loss to Iowa at home. During his tenure, Brewster’s team never beat a team ranked in the top 25; they hadn’t even beaten a rival in a trophy game. Brewster inherited a team that played Texas Tech in the Insight Bowl. He left a team that, at the time, hadn’t won a Big Ten conference game.

What happened? Is a recruiting ranking an indicator of future success? Were the Gophers victim to some unlikely circumstances or was Brewster unable to coach these talented players to their potential?

Why didn’t the Gophers improve their Big Ten position?

Read more …

Filed under Minnesota Golden Gophers Golden Gophers football Rivals recruiting College Football Ed Orgeron Tim Brewster NCAA Football Cam Newton Minnesota Golden Minnesota Golden Gophers Football National Signing Day Football recruiting

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Gophers, Jerry Kill need to fight off descent into college football’s Rust Belt

(Photo credit: Pioneer Press. The photog’s name has been scrubbed off, so I can’t give credit. Ed. note: This meandering post was originally meant to be posted after the Illni game.)

An older man walked past me a few weeks ago at the Memphis airport, as we both boarded a plane bound for Louisville.

"You better have another sweatshirt to wear for when we land," he joked, noticing my maroon Minnesota sweatshirt. "It’s either Kentucky blue or Cardinal country over there. You think Tubby about to do anything this year?"

I laughed politely and said I couldn’t wait for the basketball season to start up, since Gopher football had been so rough this year, dropping nine games in a row and nary a conference win at that point.

The man looked back at me puzzled, as if he had just talked to Moonlight Graham. He didn’t speak, but his confused expression and squinting eyes delivering his thoughts: “Football? At Minnesota? They haven’t played football there for decades…”

* * * * *

The Minnesota Golden Gophers football team beat the otherwise solid University of Illinois Fighting Illini Nov. 13. For most collegiate football programs, it would have been a nondescript victory road victory near the tail end of another season.

The Gophers, however, are not most college football programs. The 38-34 victory gave a balsa wood silver of hope to the most loyal of Gopher fans going into the season’s final game against Iowa on Nov. 27.

Mired in a four-season slump that included two losses to Division I-FCS opponents and an overall record of 16-33, the Gophers are losing a fight against descending into the college football representation of a busted rust belt town like Detroit. Six national championship banners, the latest of which came exactly 50 years ago, signal the only remembrance of football greatness and prosperity at the U, much like the abandoned, once grandiose art deco buildings that dot Detroit’s landscape.

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Filed under Minnesota Golden Gophers Football Jerry Kill Glen Mason Six National Championships college football Tim Brewster

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Brewster fired: How Joel Maturi did it, satirically

This was something I started writing a few weeks ago and wanted to flush it out more, but then stopped because I felt like it was dancing on Brewster’s grave a bit. I don’t want to do that. By all accounts, he’s a nice guy and a good person. Regrettably, he was wrongly pegged as a head coach. The Gophers fired Brewster today with a press release and news conference.

This might be how Athletic Director Joel Maturi broke the news to Brewster:

Dear Tim,

This is really hard to say, but I think you know this has been something on my mind for awhile now. We need to talk.

The “Fire Brewster” chants that began last year at TCF Bank Stadium were something we chuckled about between sips of Glenfiddich 50-year single malt, as we trolled the waters of Lake Minnetonka on the deck of my 55-foot Sea Ray.

"They did the same thing to Glen for two years," I said, laughing, comforting you as you fidgeted with that small cube of Rose Bowl grass you always carried like a two-year-old holding a ragged blanket.

Read more …

Filed under Gophers Minnesota Golden Gophers Football College Football Tim Brewster Joel Maturi