Return to Glory

Return to Glory

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Keelon Brookins decommits from Gophers to Badgers

The first Gopher commitment of the 2013 Class has just decommitted from the Gophers today and sadly committed to the Badgers. TheBadgerNation broke the news and Star Tribune picked up on it soon after. Keelon is a native Minnesotan that is playing his high school football at Tartan, so losing him to the Badgers is a tough blow to Jerry Kill's attempts to solidify the Minnesota border. Keelon is a solid 3 star defensive back recruit that would be a valuable addition to the Gophers. The good news is signing day is still roughly 7 months away, so who knows what will happen between now and then. Remember that last year highly regarded Andre McDonald decommitted from the Gophers, but ultimately signed his letter of intent to play with the hometown Gophers.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Realistic Expectations for Indiana Hoosiers

Sept. 1: Indiana St. WIN
Sept. 8: @Massachusetts WIN
Sept. 15: Ball St. WIN
Sept. 29: @Northwestern LOSS
Oct. 6: Michigan St. (homecoming) LOSS
Oct. 13: Ohio St. LOSS
Oct. 20: @Navy LOSS
Oct. 27: @Illinois LOSS
Nov. 3: Iowa LOSS
Nov. 10: Wisconsin LOSS
Nov. 17: @Penn St. LOSS
Nov. 23: @ Purdue LOSS

3-9 Overall Record
0-8 Big Ten Record

Over the last 4 seasons (2008 - 2011) the Indiana Hoosiers have averaged just over 3 wins per season, so my 2012 prediction falls right in line. The bottom line is that thanks to the Hoosiers the Gophers haven't been the worst Big Ten team over the past four years. The Hoosiers are coming off a terrible 1-11 year and just there doesn't appear to be a quick turnaround on the horizon. The Hoosiers have a few possible bright spots on offense in quarterback Tre Roberson and running back Stephen Houston. However, they do lose both starting tackles in Justin Pagan and Andrew McDonald who combined for 62 career starts. I don't anticipate the Hoosier offense being anything above ordinary. The real problems are on the defensive side of the ball. The Hoosiers fielded arguably the worst defense of any team in a BCS conference and they now look to replace essentially their entire linebacking corp and are still seeking a pass rush. The good news is that Indiana has some winnable non conference games against Indiana St., Massachusetts and Ball St. Keep in mind Indiana managed to lose to Ball St. and North Texas last year, so any improvement over 2011 must begin with winning some of their non conference games. The remaining non conference game is against Navy,which will probably be a loss. The bottom line is, I don't see any way that Indiana reaches a bowl, as they would likely have to win a combination of 3 games against Northwestern, Michigan St., Ohio St., Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Penn St. and Purdue. Their easiest Big Ten games are essentially all road games: at Northwestern, at Illinois and at Purdue. Indiana is facing home games against Michigan St., Ohio St., Iowa, Wisconsin. When Iowa is your best chance for a home win it all adds up to a dismal 0-8 Big Ten record.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Washington Times Ranks Gophers 80th in Preseason Poll

Ah the beauty of meaningless preseason polls, we now have something to get fans to experience a wide range of emotions spanning elation to enraged. Unless of course the fan base has already entered the dangerous doldrums of complete apathy. The Washington Times is doing their annual countdown ranking of all the D1 schools and the Minnesota Gophers find themselves ranked #80 out of 124 teams. It is interesting to note, the Gophers are actually ranked behind non conference opponent Western Michigan who finds themselves at #76 in the countdown. There are 68 teams in the "BCS" conferences, so essentially this poll ranks the Gophers as close to the worst BCS conference team. The only BCS conference teams to rank lower than the Gophers are:

Indiana #95
Kansas #91
Colorado #90
Kentucky #88
Boston College #85
Temple #82

In theory, this puts the Gophers as underdogs in every game except the opener against UNLV and FCS opponent New Hampshire. Call me a biased Gopher fan, but if we are going to rank on projected 2012 performance I believe this ranking is low. The fatal flaw with most preseason polls is the exaggerated emphasis placed on prior seasons performances. There is no doubt the Gophers will be an improved team heading into Year 2 of the Jerry Kill era.

Other notable facts:

Gophers Opening Week opponent UNLV ranked #115

Big Ten the only BCS conference to have two teams ranked 80th or lower.

19 "non BCS" schools ranked ahead of the Gophers

Friday, July 13, 2012

Big Ten Preseason Media Days

Big Ten preseason media days are fast approaching, July 26-27, in Chicago. Minnesota's three player selections to participate at the media days are seniors Keanon Cooper and MarQueis Gray and junior tackle Ed Olson.  I don't think the selections of Cooper and Gray come as a surprise, as they are obviously key leaders of the respective offense and defense. However, it is a bit surprising to see Ed Olson tapped as the third member of the group. This highlights that Ed has clearly stepped into a leadership role on this team and hopefully he can help lead our core group of young talented offensive linemen.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

LB Chris Wipson Commits to Gophers

I am excited to announce that in state LB Chris Wipson has committed to play football for Gophers. Again, these are all only verbal committments at this time, since signing day isn't until February 2013. However, this committment holds a special pride for me, since Chris is a fellow Wayzata Trojan. I was a proud Wayzata Trojan graduate in 2003. Chris impressed the coaching staff at last month's summer camp and was able to earn a scholarship offer. I have his measurables around 6'1" 200lbs and during his junior season with the Trojans he racked up 82 tackles, 18 tackles for loss and 2 interceptions. Chris had not generated strong D1 interest as of yet, but some think that would have changed with another strong senior season. Currently, Chris had scholarship offers from Air Force, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota. Here are Chris's own words on why he chose the Gophers, "I really like the coaching staff. The program is going in the right direction. They are on a mission to make the Minnesota football program one of the best in the Big Ten and I want to be a part of that."  It is encouraging to continue to hear in state kids buying into the belief that better days are ahead for the Gophers program. Now if we could start to see progress in the win loss column I really think recruits may take a longer look at playing for the Gophers. Here are junior highlights of Chris that have been posted on YouTube. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Two Time Minnesota All State Receiver to Walk On with Gophers

Two time Minnesota All State wide receiver Hunter Friesen has decided to walk on Gophers football team. Hunter had initially decided to walk on at Minnesota St. Mankato, but Hunter's desire to play D1 football led him to the Gophers. He was lightly recruited coming out of high school due to his size 5'10" 170 lbs, but he does possess solid speed. Hunter was the star wide receiver for Mankato West High School where he racked up 63 catches for 1,181 yards and 21 TDs. He was also the favorite target of his more well known high school teammate, Gophers freshman quarterback Philip Nelson. According to a great article by Mike Blaha at Gophers Digest, Hunter and Philip have played football together since fifth grade. With Philip seeming to be the heir apparent at quarterback for the Gophers, the chemistry he has with Hunter bodes well for his future. There is a great quote in Mike's article where Hunter states, "I'll do whatever I have to do to play. If they want me to play D back, I'll play D back. Anything I can do to play. I'm going to put everything on the line to get on the field and get playing time." I don't think it hurts to bring in a kid with a chip on his shoulder that is willing to work hard and has a proven track record of productivity, especially when it doesn't even cost the Gophers a scholarship. Welcome to the Gophers, Hunter!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Realistic Expectations for Illinois

Sept. 1: Western Michigan LOSS
Sept. 8: @ Arizona St. LOSS
Sept. 15: Charleston Southern WIN
Sept. 22: Louisiana Tech WIN
Sept. 29: Penn St. LOSS
Oct. 6: @Wisconsin LOSS
Oct. 13: @Michigan LOSS
Oct. 27: Indiana (homecoming) WIN
Nov. 3: @Ohio St. LOSS
Nov. 10: Minnesota LOSS
Nov. 17: Purdue LOSS
Nov. 23: @ Northwestern LOSS

3-9 Overall Record
1-7 Big Ten Record

A promising early 2011 campaign came to an ugly end. After starting 6-0 the Illini staggered to a 1-6 finish, which cost Ron Zook his job. As a result, Illinois enters 2012 with significant coaching changes. Illinois has turned to Toledo's head coach, Tim Beckman, to lead the Illinois program. Illinois returns 7 starters on offense and defense. However, key offensive players running back Jason Ford, 1st round draft pick wide receiver AJ Jenkins and 2nd round pick offensive tackle Jeff Allen have all departed. On defense, the Illini lose big time playmaker Whitney Mercilus and his 16 sacks to the NFL. The Illini face one of the most daunting stretches of any Big Ten team this fall with 3 consecutive games with Penn St. and then on the road at Wisconsin and Michigan. as a result the Illini will be 0-3 in the conference before they even get their season started. The Illini's bye week is wasted on pitiful Indiana and then it is back on the road at Ohio St. The Illini's best chance for Big Ten wins are all stacked at the end of the season with consecutive weeks against Minnesota, Purdue and at Northwestern. However, by that time this will be a lost season for the Illini and I would expect to see coach Beckman shift the focus to 2013. The bottom line is coaching changes are always a challenge and Illinois's 2011 record of 7-6 is deceiving. They racked up wins against Arkansas St., South Dakota St, Arizona St., Western Michigan, Northwestern and at Indiana. 5 of those wins were at home. The three quality opponents (Arizona St., Western Michigan and Northwestern) were all played at home and each game was won by exactly 3 points. This year Arizona St. and Northwestern will be played on the road.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Overall view of the Legends Division in 2012

I have now finished analyzing how I see the entire Legends division shaking out this year. The final results are as follows:

Legends Division Conference Record:
Nebraska      7-1
Michigan       7-1 but lost to Nebraska head to head
Michigan St.  6-2
Minnesota      3-5
Iowa              2-6
Northwestern 2-6

I think there is little dispute that the three heavyweights in the Legends division are Nebraska, Michigan and Michigan St. Those three teams will beat up on each other and essentially who does the best in this three way "round robin" will probably be claiming the spot in the conference championship. Nebraska has the slimmest margin for error as they have the 3 brutal crossover games of Wisconsin, Ohio St. and Penn St. Michigan St. also has to play Ohio St. and Wisconsin, but does swap Penn St. for Indiana. Michigan gets the best of the crossovers as they obviously have their protected game with Ohio St. but the other two crossovers are Illinois and Purdue. The crossovers certainly favor Michigan, but Michigan does have to play at Nebraska. For Michigan St. the challenge will be trying to win in Ann Arbor and keep their winning streak against the Wolverines alive. Conventional wisdom would put Michigan in the title game, but I am riding the proverbial hunch with the Cornhuskers. I think this is a big year for Bo Pelini and something tells me he will have his team ready to answer the bell. No Big Ten team had a toughest schedule last year and that experience will prove valuable this year.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Realistic Expectations for Nebraska Cornhuskers

Sept. 1: Southern Mississippi WIN
Sept. 8: @ UCLA WIN
Sept. 15: Arkansas St. WIN
Sept. 22: Idaho St. WIN
Sept. 29: Wisconsin (homecoming) WIN
Oct. 6: @Ohio St. WIN
Oct. 20: @ Northwestern WIN
Oct. 27: Michigan WIN
Nov. 3: @Michigan St. LOSS
Nov. 10: Penn St. WIN
Nov. 17: Minnesota WIN
Nov. 23: @Iowa WIN

11-1 Overall Record
7-1 Big Ten

Nebraska returns largely intact from a solid 9-4 campaign with 8 starters returning on offense and defense.  The defense does lose star players in Jared Crick, Lavonte David and Alfonso Dennard, but Baker Steinkuhler and Cameron Meredith should help anchor another solid defensive front.  The Cornhusker season will live and die by the progress Taylor Martinez has made as a quarterback. Taylor is unquestionably athletically gifted, but in the past he has simply been to inconsistent and error prone to lead the Cornhuskers to a Big Ten title. I think I am in the minority, but I look for Taylor to make progress this year while leaning heavily on solid running back Rex Burkhead frequently. When Taylor does throw he will have the dynamic Kenny Bell ready to make big plays. This year Nebraska gets Wisconsin and Michigan at home. Plus, Wisconsin has a major overhaul to make to their offense. Ultimately, I see an experienced Nebraska squad that acclimated themselves to Big Ten football last year and are ready to eek out a bunch of close wins against a demanding schedule. Look for the Huskers to be the Legends 2012 division champs.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Realistic Expectations for Northwestern Wildcats

Sept. 1: @Syracuse LOSS
Sept. 8: Vanderbilt WIN
Sept. 15: Boston College WIN
Sept. 22: South Dakota WIN
Sept. 29: Indiana WIN
Oct. 6: @ Penn St. LOSS
Oct. 13: @ Minnesota LOSS
Oct. 20: Nebraska LOSS
Oct. 27: Iowa LOSS
Nov. 10: @ Michigan LOSS
Nov. 17: @ Michigan St. LOSS
Nov. 24: Illinois WIN

Overall Record 5-7
Big Ten Record 2-6

Northwestern is another Big Ten team that is having to replace a solid starting quarterback, Dan Persa in this case. However, there have been numerous other depatures too. In fact, only Wisconsin returns fewer starters in the Big Ten this year. In addition to Persa, Northwestern must find a way to replace the reliable produciton of solid wide receiver Jeremy Ebert. It appears Kain Colter will be the starting quarterback this fall for the Wildcats, which means it is additional 2011 wide receiver production that will be missing in 2012. Tight end Drake Dunsmore has also graduated and moved on to the NFL with the Tampa Bay Bucaneers. Lastly, the Wildcats must also replace 4 year offensive line starters tackle Al Netter and guard Ben Burkett. To be honest those were their best two linemen and the rest of the line is proving to be below average, which will add to their offensive woes. Northwestern has shown a history of being able to generate a quality offense, but I see a signifcant step back this year. The one offensive bright spot would be if 5 star wide receiver recruit Kyle Prater, who transferred from USC, wins his hardship appeal this July that would allow him to immediately suit up for the Wildcats this fall. Northwestern's defense has been stuck in neutral, if not actually going in reverse. Only Minnesota and Indiana gave up more points last year, and there simply isn't a quick fix for 2012. I look for the offense to struggle, as they seek to generate continuity on the offense. Unfortunately, the defense will be ill equipped to make up any shortfall on the offensive side of the ball. Northwestern has road games against Penn St., Michigan and Michigan St. and will face Nebraska at home. If Northwestern has any hope of reaching a bowl game they absolutely have to beat Boston College and either Minnesota or Iowa. The end result is a disappoint 5-7 campaign.