Return to Glory

Return to Glory

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Realistic Expectations for Michigan Wolverines

Sept. 1: Alabama (at Cowboys Stadium) LOSS
Sept. 8: Air Force WIN
Sept. 15: Massachusetts WIN
Sept. 22: @ Notre Dame WIN
Oct. 6: @Purdue WIN
Oct. 13: Illinois (homecoming) WIN
Oct. 20: Michigan St. WIN
Oct. 27: @Nebraska LOSS
Nov. 3: @Minnesota WIN
Nov. 10: Northwestern WIN
Nov. 17: Iowa WIN
Nov. 24: @Ohio St. WIN

10-2 Overall
7-1 Big Ten

The Wolverines have a few key losses in WR Junior Hemingway, C David Molk, DT Mike Martin, DE Ryan Van Bergen and CB Troy Woolfolk. However, they still return 6 starters on offense including all important Denard Robinson, RB Fitzgerald Toussaint and OT Taylor Lewan. The defense brings back 8 starters and with Hoke's influence one has to believe they will continue to improve on defense. Kicking off the season against Alabama is a huge game for a Wolverines team that could aspire to a National Championship. However, they fall short against the perenial powerhouse. It appears that Michigan may be in a battle with Nebraska to claim the Legends Division. Unfortunately, Michigan has to play Nebraska on the road and that makes the difference. Another solid campaign for the Wolvernines, but they again fail to even reach the Big Ten Championship game.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Realistic Expectations for Iowa Hawkeyes

Sept. 1: Northern Illinois (at Solider Field) WIN
Sept. 8: Iowa St. LOSS
Sept. 15: Northern Iowa WIN
Sept. 22: Central Michigan WIN
Sept. 29: Minnesota LOSS
Oct. 13: @Michigan St. LOSS
Oct. 20: Penn St. LOSS
Oct. 27: @Northwestern WIN
Nov. 3: @Indiana WIN
Nov. 10: Purdue LOSS
Nov. 17: @Michigan LOSS
Nov. 23: Nebraska LOSS

5-7 Record and 2-6 in the Big Ten

The bottom line is there is a lot of turnover on the coaching staff and the Hawkeyes defense. The Hawkeyes defensive front has lost DT's Thomas Nardo and Mike Daniels and DE Broderick Binns. In addition, MLB Tyler Nielsen and CB Shaun Prater are gone. Meanwhile, the Hawkeyes are having to revamp their offensive line after the departure of 3 starters including 1st round draft pick Riley Rieff. Lastly, the Hawkeyes lost reliable wide receiver Marvin McNutt and quite simply have no reliable experience at running back. The end result is a dissapointing 5-7 record. Honestly, the Hawkeyes record could be worse, but they have favorable cross division games which include Purdue and Indiana.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Realistic Scenario for Gophers 2012 Season

Let us complete our picture of the Gophers upcoming season by looking at how the season will most likely turn out.
Realistic Scenario
Aug. 30 - at UNLV - WIN
UNLV was 2-10 last year and 2-11 in 2010 and haven't even been 6-6 since the 2003 season. Their last win vs. a BCS conference team was September 20, 2008 vs. Iowa St. in overtime. The bottom line is the Gophers are more talented and with a complete off season to work with his players Jerry Kill will have his team ready to turn the page on a difficult 2011 season and begin setting the tone on the 2012 season.

Sept. 8 - New Hampshire - WIN
New Hampshire is a IAA program coming off an 8-4 campaign in which their only IA game came against Toledo, which crushed New Hampshire 58-22. The Gophers recent track record against IAA schools is absolutely embarrassing having lost last year to North Dakota State 37-24 and South Dakota 41-38 during the 2010 campaign. In 2009 the Gophers squeaked out a win against the mighty Jackrabbits of South Dakota St. 16-13. It is inarguable that the Gophers will be more talented at nearly every position and with more familiarity with Jerry Kill's system I think the Gophers begin exercising the demons of IAA opponents from the prior five years. In addition, it must be pointed out that the IAA schools the Gophers have played are the Dakota schools which are full of players from Minnesota that feel snubbed by their hometown team. Against, New Hampshire that personal motivating factor will be lacking. Chalk up a W for the Gophers.

Sept. 15 - Western Michigan - WIN
The Gophers face their first true test of the season against an underrated Western Michigan team. The Broncos have a returning senior starter at quarterback in Alex Carder that can put up points in a hurry, as he racked up 31 TDs last year while completing 66% of his passes. Ultimately, he ranked 8th among all players in IA by averaging 335 yards of offense per game. This will be a huge test for the Gophers secondary to see if the holes from last season have been filled. Ultimately, the Gophers improved secondary led by Stoudermire, Carter, Vereen and Shabazz prove up to the challenge while the Gophers young, but talented, offensive line controls the trenches. Gophers win a close one.

Sept. 22 - Syracuse - LOSS
I think the Gophers will ultimately split the Western Michigan and Syracuse games. I will say that the Gophers beat Western Michigan, but fall to a steadily improving Syracuse team led by Coach Marrone. The Gophers exit non conference play with a solid 3-1 record.

Sept. 29 - at Iowa - WIN
The Gophers have won Floyd of Rosedale the past two years, but now they make the trek back down to Kinnick Stadium. From the realistic perspective this proved to be one of the most difficult games for me to decide upon and could prove to be a key game in the Gophers becoming bowl eligible. There is no doubt the Hawkeyes are in transition and I think it benefits the Gophers to get them early in the season. Some way some how the Gophers eek out a road win and hold onto Floyd for a 3rd straight year.
Oct. 13 - Northwestern (Homecoming) - WIN
Northwestern has beaten the Gophers the previous two seasons, but Dan Persa, Drake Dunsmore and Jeremy Ebert  have all graduated. New starting quarterback Kain Colter is unable to make up for the team's lousy running game. With the Wildcats forced to be one dimensional, the upgraded Gophers secondary shines again and MarQueis exposes a suspect Wildcat defense in an inspired Homecoming effort
.
Oct. 20 - at Wisconsin - LOSS
The Gophers exciting 5-1 start comes to a sudden halt with a defeat at Camp Randall Stadium to the hated Badgers. Without the transfer of Danny O'Brien into the Badger program, the Gophers may have had a shot, but his veteran leadership keeps the Badgers balanced. Montee Ball and the hostile Camp Randall atmosphere are to much for the young Gophers to handle.

Oct. 27 - Purdue - LOSS
The Gophers come out slow after the hard fought border battle of a week ago. Purdue proves to be the surprise team in the conference and they keep things rolling with a road win in a high scoring affair.
Nov. 3 - Michigan - LOSS
Sadly, Michigan has dominated the Gophers seemingly forever and you need look no further back than last year's 58-0 dismantling of the Gophers. While 2012 is a more competitive game and the Gophers defense continues to make strides, it is simply not enough. The Little Brown Jug remains safely in the Wolverines trophy case.
Nov. 10 - at Illinois - WIN
Illinois is mired in a difficult season with their first year head coach and arrive at this game 3-6 on the year and having lost 4 of their last 5 games while getting drilled by Penn State, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio State. In addition, the Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio State games were all on the road. The battle weary Illini simply get out of the gate slow and the Gophers offense takes advantage. Gophers win a game that was never as close as the score indicates.

Nov. 17 - at Nebraska - LOSS
Gophers enter Lincoln one of the major surprises of the season and the program appears to be leaving the Tim Brewster era behind. Nebraska comes into the came sluggish having just wrapped up consecutive games against Michigan, Michigan St. and Penn St. However, Nebraska reminds the Gophers they still have a ways to go by coming from behind in the second half to earn the victory and stay on track for the Legends division title.

Nov. 24 - Michigan St. - LOSS
The Gophers offense simply can't get anything moving against perhaps the conference's best defense. While the Gophers defense keeps the Gophers in the game, the Spartans pull away late.
Final Record 6-6 and goes to a bowl game
I think the Gophers can reasonably be expected to win between 5 - 7 games in 2012.  I will say that the Gophers reach the 6 win mark and are able to go to a bowl game and allows Jerry Kill to highlight to steady growth in the program. The X factor will be our quarterback play. MarQueis is immensely talented, but erratic as a thrower, if he can put it together and be an All Big Ten quarterback the Gophers could be a sneaky good team. Defensively, I believe you will see the Gophers secondary be immensely better than a year ago. If Michael Carter and Ra'Shede Hageman can play up to their talent level this will be the best defense the Gophers have had in awhile.

They key games for the Gophers to reach a bowl game are the following:
Western Michigan/ Syracuse - The Gophers get both these games at home and really need to win at least one of them. If somehow the Gophers win both of these games they will be in great shape.

Northwestern - The Gophers get this game at home on homecoming and Northwestern is going through a lot of offensive transition. The Gophers really need to win this game to help them get to 6 wins or they will head down the home stretch having to chase a win against Michigan, Nebraska or Michigan State.

Iowa/Purdue - Much like Western Michigan/ Syracuse, I think the Gophers really need to at least split the Iowa and Purdue games. You may have noticed I am down on Iowa this year, but that game is on the road. Plus, Iowa has been upset by the Gophers the past two seasons, which means they will enter the game motivated. Meanwhile, Purdue could be another sneaky good team this year and we know what they did to the Gophers last year. If the Gophers drop both these games and were unable to sweep Western Michigan & Syracuse the odds turn towards a so close but so far away 5-7 campaign and the bowl drought continues.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Best Case Scenario for Gophers 2012 Season

Sadly spring practice has come and gone and other than an occasional recruiting update it is an extremely quiet time for Gophers news. Of course that is usually a good thing, as the only other news that pops up right now is players getting arrested and/or kicked off the team, so really no news is good news right now. Look no further than the Ra'Shede Hageman post for proof.

As a result, what better time then now to start going over each Big Ten team's schedule to provide my wildly unscientific guesses for best and realistic scenarios for each team's season. As an admitted Gopher fan, lets  kickoff our analysis by studying the hometown team.

Best Case Scenario
Aug. 30 - at UNLV - WIN
UNLV was 2-10 last year and 2-11 in 2010 and haven't even been 6-6 since the 2003 season. Their last win vs. a BCS conference team was September 20, 2008 vs. Iowa St. in overtime. The bottom line is the Gophers are more talented and with a complete off season to work with his players Jerry Kill will have his team ready to turn the page on a difficult 2011 season and begin setting the tone on the 2012 season.

Sept. 8 - New Hampshire - WIN
New Hampshire is a IAA program coming off an 8-4 campaign in which their only IA game came against Toledo, which crushed New Hampshire 58-22. The Gophers recent track record against IAA schools is absolutely embarrassing having lost last year to North Dakota State 37-24 and South Dakota 41-38 during the 2010 campaign. In 2009 the Gophers squeaked out a win against the mighty Jackrabbits of South Dakota St. 16-13. It is inarguable that the Gophers will be more talented at nearly every position and with more familiarity with Jerry Kill's system I think the Gophers begin exercising the demons of IAA opponents from the prior five years. In addition, it must be pointed out that the IAA schools the Gophers have played are the Dakota schools which are full of players from Minnesota that feel snubbed by their hometown team. Against, New Hampshire that personal motivating factor will be lacking. Chalk up a W for the Gophers.

Sept. 15 - Western Michigan - WIN
The Gophers face their first true test of the season against an underrated Western Michigan team. The Broncos have a returning senior starter at quarterback in Alex Carder that can put up points in a hurry, as he racked up 31 TDs last year while completing 66% of his passes. Ultimately, he ranked 8th among all players in IA by averaging 335 yards of offense per game. This will be a huge test for the Gophers secondary to see if the holes from last season have been filled. Ultimately, the Gophers improved secondary led by Stoudermire, Carter, Vereen and Shabazz prove up to the challenge while the Gophers young, but talented, offensive line controls the trenches. Gophers win a close one.

Sept. 22 - Syracuse - WIN
The Gophers build on the impressive Western Michigan performance and feed off the energy crowd at the Gophers only night game under the lights at TCF Stadium. Meanwhile, Syracuse comes in flat after an uncompetitive trouncing of Stony Brook and can't recover from the early hole they dug for themselves.

Sept. 29 - at Iowa - WIN
From a coaching perspective, Iowa has been arguably the most stable program, perhaps other than Penn State, in the Big Ten for a decade and was a key reason for the success of the program. However, that all changes in 2012 with Coach Ferentz having to replace his offensive and defensive coordinators. The instability on the coaching staff and significant departure of defensive talent to the NFL the past two seasons proves to much to overcome. The Hawkeyes spend the prior two weeks coasting past Northern Iowa and Central Michigan, while the Gophers come in battle tested from wins against Western Michigan and Syracuse. The Gophers hang on to Floyd of Rosedale for a 3rd straight year in a tight contest.

Oct. 13 - Northwestern (Homecoming) - WIN
Northwestern has beaten the Gophers the previous two seasons, but Dan Persa, Drake Dunsmore and Jeremy Ebert  have all graduated. New starting quarterback Kain Colter is unable to make up for the team's lousy running game. With the Wildcats forced to be one dimensional, the upgraded Gophers secondary shines again and MarQueis exposes a suspect Wildcat defense in an inspired Homecoming effort
.
Oct. 20 - at Wisconsin - LOSS
The Gophers blazing 6-0 start comes to a sudden halt with a defeat at Camp Randall Stadium to the hated Badgers. While the Gophers play inspired football and demonstrate a closing of the gap between the programs, the Badgers simply beat the Gophers at their own game as the Gophers young offensive and defensive lines lose the battle in the trenches.

Oct. 27 - Purdue - WIN
Jerry Kill forces his players to remember the disastrous performance against Purdue in 2011 when the team lost 45-17 and surrendered 24 first quarter points. The Gophers play inspired football to purge the bad taste left by last year's defeat. In particular, MarQueis Gray continues to show his development as a quarterback and put his athleticism on display in a high scoring affair.

Nov. 3 - Michigan - LOSS
Sadly, Michigan has dominated the Gophers seemingly forever and you need look no further back than last year's 58-0 dismantling of the Gophers. Michigan shows some chinks in their defensive line that MarQueis and the running backs expose, but the Gophers simply have no answer for Denard Robinson.

Nov. 10 - at Illinois - WIN
Illinois is mired in a difficult season with their first year head coach and arrive at this game 3-6 on the year and having lost 4 of their last 5 games while getting drilled by Penn State, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio State. In addition, the Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio State games were all on the road. The battle weary Illini simply get out of the gate slow and the Gophers offense takes advantage. Gophers win a game that was never as close as the score indicates.

Nov. 17 - at Nebraska - LOSS
Gophers enter Lincoln one of the major surprises of the season and the program appears to be leaving the Tim Brewster era behind. Nebraska comes into the came sluggish having just wrapped up consecutive games against Michigan, Michigan St. and Penn St. However, Nebraska reminds the Gophers that they are not an upper echelon team yet by coming from behind in the second half to earn the victory and stay on track for the Legends division title.

Nov. 24 - Michigan St. - WIN
Gophers continue the trend of wrapping up the regular season on a high note by upsetting the Spartans. The Gophers defense and offense benefit from their growth throughout the season and put together one of their most complete games on both sides of the ball. Troy Stoudermire cements first team All Big status with a big time interception late in the game and breaks the NCAA all-time kick return yardage record. The Gophers go bowling for first time since 2009!

Final Record 9-3 and goes to a bowl game
The Gophers show dramatic improvement in the secondary thanks to the return of a healthy Troy Stoudermire, the long awaited maturity of gifted Michael Carter, the steady play of Brock Vereen at saftey and the influx of JUCOs make an impact, much the way Traye Simmons and Trumaine Brock did at the start of the Brewster era. The linebacking core is rock solid with seniors Keanon Cooper and Mike Rallis. The Gophers decision to emphasize speed at the defensive end positions with Theiren Cockran and Michael Amafuela generates the spark the pass rush has craved for years and big Ra'Shede Hageman proves to be a dominator in the middle. Meanwhile, the offense takes significant strides as MarQueis translates his immense athletic ability into a dynamic season and earns 2nd Team All Big Ten honors behind Denard Robinson. The young offensive line delivers on its promise and leaves fans excited for the years ahead.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Night Games Hard to Come By for Gophers

With the track record of the Gophers over the past decade it is not surprising that when the Big Ten announced its prime time schedule for the upcoming season the Gophers were nowhere to be found on ESPN or ABC. The Big Ten Network selected the Gophers non conference game against Syracuse on September 22, 2012 for a 7PM kickoff, but that is it. All the Gophers other home games will be day games, but starting times have yet to be announced. It should be pointed out that the Gophers first game of the season against UNLV will also be a night game, but that is an away game for the Gophers. Primetime games are a great way to gain exposure for a program, which the Gophers could clearly benefit from. First, the Gophers are going to have to become relevant in the Big Ten. Hopefully in the coming years we will see the Gophers listed more then once on the primetime schedule. However, there are still some great games on tap for the upcoming season. The Michigan vs Nebraska game could be the key game to decide who heads to the championship from the Legends division. With Ohio State not even being eligible for post season play, I must admit I am disppointed that somehow Ohio State still finds itself on ABC/ ESPN twice this year and an additional game on the BTN. For instance, on October 27th, I would much rather see Michigan St. at Wisconsin in primetime.

Here are the Big Ten prime time games for the upcoming 2012 Season:

August 31st: Boise State at Michigan St. 8pm ESPN
September 1st: Indiana St. at Indiana  8pm BTN
September 8th: Vanderbilt at Northwestern 8pm BTN
September 15th: Notre Dame at Michigan St. 8pm ABC
September 15th: Utah St. at Wisconsin 8pm BTN
September 22nd: Syracuse at Minnesota 8pm BTN
September 29th: Wisconsin at Nebraska 8pm ABC, ESPN or ESPN2
October 6th: Nebraska at Ohio State 8pm ABC, ESPN or ESPN2
October 13th: Ohio State at Indiana 8pm BTN
October 20th: Penn State at Iowa 8pm BTN
October 27th: Ohio State at Penn State 6pm ESPN or ESPN2
October 27th: Michigan at Nebraska 8pm ABC, ESPN or ESPN2

Per conference rules, there are no outdoor night games at Big Ten stadiums after October
All listed times are ET

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Ra'Shede Hageman Arrested

It has been a quiet off season for the Gophers on the police blotter, but unfortunately that changed last Thursday. Starting defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman was arrested last Thursday after being involved in a bar fight outside Sally's Saloon and Eatery near campus. Per the Pioneer Press, Ra'Shede was booked into Hennepin County jail on suspicion of disorderly conduct at 2:40AM and posted bond. He has a May 24th court date. http://www.twincities.com/localnews/ci_20592356/gophers-football-rashede-hageman-cited-disorderly-conduct

Gophers spokesman, Garry Bowman, said "Hageman was breaking up a fight at the bar." However, the police reported that Hageman was the only person arrested that was involved in the incident. I would find it strange that the person trying to break up a fight proves to be the only one that gets arrested.

Bowman also said, "Hageman's status with the team has not changed, but Jerry Kill will handle it according to team policy."

I think this will ultimately prove to be a minor incident, but it is still a troubling sign from a player that the Gophers plan to rely on heavily this upcoming season. Hageman really has an opportunity to step up and be a leader on this defense with the graduation of Kirksey and Jacobs, but behavior like this will not sit well with Jerry Kill. Perhaps this proves to be a wake up call and gets Hageman focused in on having a solid season.