Sunday, September 28, 2014

WE WIN THE JUG

JUG

Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday Night Descent to the Fiery Depths of Despair: Pre-Michigan

Probably worth noting upfront that I’m in a foul mood, so I suspect what little hope I had for a positive outcome tomorrow will be ball gagged and flogged by my present demeanor. Sometimes booze just ain’t enough. You’ve been warned.

Ah, Michigan. It seems like every year we go into this game with the faintest glimmer of positivity, that maybe this time we won’t piss ourselves at the sight of the winged helmets. And every year, but for three, in my entire life, the curb stomp happens. Sometimes we lose in heartbreaking fashion (see 03, 20), sometimes we would have been better off forfeiting (hi, 58 – nil!), but most of the time, it’s just a traditional beat down. We’ll look game for a quarter or two, but you always know what’s going to happen: Michigan will make a big play, we’ll fold ourselves neatly into the fetal position and go quietly off into that good night.

I’ve been thinking to myself all week that games like tomorrow’s are the worst. The Wolverines have been our bugaboo for 50 years – but they look beatable. Their offense is in disarray: their line is weak, Gardner has been a turnover machine and they can’t seem to score any points. They have looked pedestrian at best against every FBS opponent they’ve played. Yes, their defense has been sound, particularly against the run; but, as Gopher fans know well, if you can’t score any points, the greatest defense in the country is of limited value.

And while we haven’t exactly been world beaters, we’ve looked better, more consistent than Michigan. Our defense has been solid against both the run and pass in all four non-conference games and our running game last week was as good as it’s ever been. Yes, we haven’t been able to pass, it’s true. But if we can do just enough, find some way to move the ball through the air, make Michigan’s linebackers hesitate for a moment in their run fits, we should be able to score some points. And our defense should be good enough to contain the Wolverine’s impotent offense.

And there it is. The hope. The dream.

All week we’ve seen and heard prognosticators pick the Gophers to win. Some have said to lose this game would be worse than the way we lost to them in 2011. Pointing to Michigan’s deficiencies, they suggest we’ll be able to do enough offensively to punch them in the mouth early, and turn the 100,000 Coke drinking fans against their own team. From there, we play Gophers man ball through 15-play, 75 yard grind-them-to-dust drives and allow our wily defense to shut them down. Game over. The Jug returns to Minnesota.

Dreams are ephemera. Hopes are broken, white-hot coat hangers shoved into your sinuses.

I want to believe. I do. Part of me genuinely does. And that’s what brings the pain. We may very well be a superior team to Michigan right now. Judging by recruiting rankings we are inferior; but we have been much more consistent functioning as a unit, at least offensively. The Wolverines looked grossly overmatched against Notre Dame and Utah and fairly ordinary against a poor Miami of Ohio team. We legitimately could be seen as the better squad.

But history is a savage. And history is smothering my hope with an old, musty pillow. I hear people saying we have a chance, but all I see the specter of the last 50 years. 1966: 49 – 0; 1972: 42 – 0; 1976: 45 – 0; 1985: 48 – 7; 1992: 63 – 13; 2008: 29 – 6; 2013: 42 – 13. These are inescapable truths. The record is bleak. Players graduate, coaches retire or are fired, teams change and evolve. But the constant has been ignominious failure.

Can we win tomorrow? Absolutely. We can win tomorrow and launch the wretched Wolverine money into the aether with his Nebraska-branded cousin. We can win tomorrow and situate ourselves for a 4-0 start to B1G play. We can win tomorrow and likely end Brady Hoke’s tenure at Michigan. We have the players, the coaches and the system to make it happen.

As a fan, though, I may be too damaged to believe. I hope, I always hope. But, throughout my life one Gopher football maxim has generally held true: football is a simple game – 22 men chase a ball around for 60 minutes, and in the end, Michigan always win.*




* Paraphrasing Gary Lineker’s quote about the German national soccer team, of course.

Know Your Enemy Week 5: Michigan Wolverines

Well, we are where we thought we'd be, right?  I mean both of us here at SGH? correctly predicted the winner of each of the first four games and Tuffy Rhodes Scholars, we are not.

Except, of course, all of the death.  The universe is Carl Spackler and he's been blowing up Gophers by the handful.
Sandy: I want you to kill every gopher on the course!  
Carl Spackler: Check me if I'm wrong Sandy, but if I kill all the golfers, they're gonna lock me up and throw away the key...   
Sandy: Gophers, ya great git! The gophers! The little brown furry rodents!  
Carl Spackler: We can do that; we don't even have to have a reason. 
Mitch Leidner and Maxx Williams remain questionable for Saturday, but both have practiced the last couple of days.  Maxx of course would be a great help in the passing game, as anemic as it is.  It would be good to have Mitch back too, but you already know my feelings if you read my post from the other day on Chris Streveler.

What's happening in Michigan these days seems nothing short of implosion.  Brady Hoke's neck is in the noose and at least half of the Big House is willing to pull the lever at this point.  Utah beat them at home.  Notre Dame gave them a little how's-your-father as a send of to that great rivalry.  Their wins have come against Appalachian St and Miami OH.

Michigan is a team divided.  The defense is good, maybe great and features linebackers Jake Ryan and Joe Bolden or Joe Ryan and Jake Bolden...I forget.  These two guys each have twice as many tackles as the #3 tackler on the team.  Defensive ends Frank Clark and Brennen Beyer are also very disruptive.

The offense on the other hand has been very turnover prone.  It's like they all have Daunte Culpepper mini-hands.  Devin Gardner doesn't look the same this year.  He's thrown 6 interceptions and has been sacked 9 times.  He doesn't even run that much anymore, its pretty weird.  Michigan isn't without playmakers though on offense.  Running back Derrick Green has 391 yards rushing in 4 games, which is a pretty big accomplishment when the team is constantly turning the ball over and getting blown out by Utah and the Irish.  Devin Funchess is another in a long line of big time Wolverines wide receivers.

I've heard a lot of internet "experts" and even some of my non Gopher-fan friends picking Minnesota to at least cover in this match-up.   Covers.com has it at 51% picking Minnesota and the points.  Jim Souhan's crazy ass thinks the Gophers will win outright.

Three things probably need to happen for the Gophers to win:

1.  The Gophers are able to run it well despite Michigan's stout front 7.
2.  Michigan's offense continues to sputter and the ball-hawking Gophers continue to screech.
3.  The Gophers complete more passes than those old-timey leather helmet teams.

Speaking of that, check out this smarmy headline: Gophers look to join 21st century, complete multiple passes against Michigan.

Also, if the Gophers have been holding some secret plays in their pocket like many are saying/hoping, now is the week to show some of it.  It would be especially juicy if those plays could involve Michigan snub, Berkley Edwards.

Let's take a look at the Michigan Roster for some All Namers:

Drake Harris/Drake Johnson, WR/RB - recruit all Drake strategy
Freddy Canteen, WR - keeps being forced to be water boy
Jack Wangler, WR - Letter R the difference between pervert and cowboy
Taco Charlton, DE - Fuck yes.
Jake Butt, TE - Subject of my "Gardner finds Butt" caption from a couple weeks ago
Ondre Pipkins, DT - Don't laugh, he's 6'3", 306 lbs


TRE's Prediction

I think all of these narratives that have the general public hankerin' for an upset might play if this game wasn't in the Big House.  Despite Brady Hoke's best efforts, they still have a ton of talent on this team and I'm not ready to write of Devin Gardner after a couple of sucky performances.  You may recall a little game last year where he threw for 235 (13-17) in an absolute stomping of our heroes.  Prove me wrong, Gophers.  Please?  Gophers 13, Michigan 34


Frothy's Prediction

I agree with TRE, as much as it pains me to admit it. I'll write more about this later, probably at length, but Michigan is our nemesis. I'd really like to think we can take advantage of a Michigan squad with a dysfunctional offense and a head coach on the ropes; but the winged helmets have effectively meant auto-defeat for Minnesota for the last 50 years. Hoke might not survive this season, but we won't be able to contribute to his ouster. Gophers 10, Michigan 28

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Time to Get Down with the Blues Streveler

Is that an airplane bottle of Grey Goose in his sock?
Is it time to get on board with Chris Streveler?


Its early, certainly, but I think I may have already seen enough.  Sure, we haven't really seen him throw at all and his only start has come against a San Jose St squad that wasn't ready for the for the crushing running game (again); but aren't you a little excited?

I'll be the first to admit I felt the same exact level of excitement last season when Mitch Leidner romped all over SJSU to the tune of 151 yards and 4 touchdowns.  Leidner even passed the ball better (not exactly well) in that game going 7-12.

However, watching Streveler run the read option was a thing of beauty.  When he saw he could take the edge he just exploded out there like flippin' rocketship.  He's got speed and power and has shown the ability to make good decisions on the run.  He was named co-Big Ten freshman of the week with his 161 yards on the ground and now finds himself 3rd all-time for a Gopher single game rushing by a quarterback.

The passing obviously wasn't anything to write home about, but I have a few thoughts.  First of all, how many times have we all heard the old cliches about getting your quarterback a few completions early to get into the flow of the game?  Especially in big games like the Superbowl you'll hear about getting the quarterback a short completion or two just to ease the nerves.  I imagine Strev's nerves were at about an 11 for this game, and with only throwing the ball 7 times and just twice in the first half, it's hard to expect much at all.

That being said, the deep ball he threw was on target and certainly could have been caught, but the WRs are probably as cold as the QB is on plays like this.  There was another play that looked a little interference-y to me too.  It also seemed to me that Streveler was either making the right reads or his number one targets were getting open, which is good.  His release seemed quick, but a couple of the throws it looked like he threw them a tick too late and by the time the ball got there the receiver was no longer quite as open.  The good news on those types of things is that the arm is there, the release is there, its just getting a feel for the speed on the field.

We've also gotten a heavy dose of Streveler's personality in the past week.  His celebration on a monster run (which my drunken memory believes was called back, but who cares) was epic and he had this to say about it on twitter:

He also was quoted in Marcus Fuller's blog comparing his game against SJSU to Leidner's from a year ago:

“Mitch and I were talking before the game on the similarities,” Streveler said. “I wasn’t really expecting to do anything like that, I was just trying to help the team to be honest. We were more talking about the passing game. I think he had 71 yards (last year vs. San Jose State) I had like seven, so he got me there. The rushing, I got him.”
That's good self-deprecation right there.  CStrevy has the funny.

For all of you saying you can't give up on Mitch Leidner yet, you're right.  However, we've seen much more of him throwing the ball and I'm starting to get a little worried it might not get better.  There's still plenty of time of course and when Mitch gets healthy I'll welcome him back.  For now, I hope Kill resists the urge to bring him back too soon and that his coy comments this week are typical gamesmanship.

When Mitch does return I would support playing both quarterbacks.  Let's keep getting Streveler touches (drives?) and let him be a the spark plug that he's shown to be so far.  All bets are off though if Streveler unleashes some bombs on Michigan in the Big House.






Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Company Matching for Gopher Athletics Drive

FIRST: This is informational only. Don't take anything here as gospel. This is informational only. Don't come back to me and say that I screwed you out of some tax shelter because I you got bad advice here. I'm not giving advice. This is informational only.

SECOND: Go http://www.giving.umn.edu/giving_opps/matching/index.html for details and all of the associated documents.  This site is informational only.

THIRD: This is informational only.

So, as you've no doubt heard, the public phase of the facilities campaign has kicked off with this fantastic site. It looks amazing and I've had facilitiesboner for going on 24 hours now. Anyway, you've probably read all about the splendor elsewhere; the point of this is to talk about fundraising - about which I know nothing. Specifically, I'll be talking about the company match. This is an overlooked aspect of fundraising, but the gist of it is many employers will match their employees contributions to charitable organizations. It just so happens, public colleges and universities are generally classified as such - this includes our beloved U of M.

I'll be listing some of the employers below, so if you happen to work at one and are considering donating to the facilities bonanza, make sure you fill out the necessary paperwork to get your company to match. It could go a long way to getting us to that $190MM mark.

This is informational only. Check with your company, accountant, tax advisor, attorney, God and whomever else before making any financial decision. This is informational only.

Company - Maximum match amount: URL for additional information. Unless otherwise noted, company match ratios are 1-1.

Ameriprise Financial - $2k: http://forms.matchinggifts.com/AmeripriseGuidelines.pdf

Best Buy - $1k: https://secure18.easymatch.com/bestbuy2/CustomerContent/common/Guidelines2.asp

Cargill - $2k: http://forms.matchinggifts.com/CargillGuidelines&Form.pdf

Carlson Companies - $1k: [not available]

Deluxe Corporation - $500: http://forms.matchinggifts.com/DeluxeCA.pdf

Donaldson Company - $1k: http://www.donaldson.com/en/about/content/032036.pdf

Ecolab - $1k: [not available]

General Mills - $5k: https://generalmills.yourcause.com/yourcause-sso/alternatelogin.aspx

Land O' Lakes - $1k: http://forms.matchinggifts.com/LandOLakesForm.pdf

Medtronic - $50k(!): http://forms.matchinggifts.com/MedtronicGuidelines.pdf

The Mosaic Company - $1k: http://forms.matchinggifts.com/MediaMosaic.pdf

Piper Jaffray - $1.5k: http://forms.matchinggifts.com/PiperJaffray14Guide.pdf

Securian - $2k: http://forms.matchinggifts.com/Securian.pdf

St. Jude Medical - $1k: http://www.sjm.com/corporate/careers/life-at-st-jude-medical/benefits-and-compensation

Supervalu - $500: http://www.supervalu.com/careers/employee-extras.html

Toro - $1k: [not available]

U.S. Bank - $1k: http://forms.matchinggifts.com/USBankForm.pdf

Xcel - $2k: https://secure1.easymatch.com/xcelenergygive/Applications/MatchingGifts/default.aspx?skip=guideline

3M - $250?: [lots of divisions - you'll need to figure this one out]


That's all the easy ones. If you've got any to add, holla at your boy!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Saturday's Talkers on Monday or Tuesday: Numerology and Epistemology

Well, you know Gopher football season is in full swing when the fan base has torn up the social contract and formed warring factions. The innertronz has been a rowdy place for the last few days as feuding parties have lobed small-pox ridden posts into opposing camps. The nuclear option for forum managers, the ban-hammer, has been used on posters who push antagonism to its limits. Right or wrong, this is where we end up. More on that in a bit.

Seven passing yards on seven attempts. Damarius Travis had an interception. His jersey number? Seven. Cobb ran for 6.1 yards per carry: 6 + 1 = 7. David Cobb and Chris Streveler were the only two Gophers with offensive yards until the 43rd minute of the game. Cobb got all of his yards on 34 carries. 4 + 3 = 7. The final score was 277. Eerie, right?

Frothy the Seer believes the frequency of the number seven from last Saturday’s game is a positive omen for the team going forward. After reading up on numerology over the last three minutes, I’ve learned that seven is the perfect number and a symbol of divine abundance. Unless the divine is a fan of man boobs, dog farts and gout, this can’t be a bad thing. Further, the number seven suggests positive change and renewal following the completion of a cycle. My training in mysticism tells me we are now fully free from the decade of futility, the malignancy of those one- and three-win seasons burned from our cellular memory. The cycle is done, broken, and, in the words of the immortal Smashmouth, we could all use a little change.

Let’s hope the divine, the noumenal essence of number, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, DJ Khaled, Cerberus, John Galt and/or Sweet Baby Jesus are happy with this incarnation of the Gophers team, because there is a significant percentage of our fans who are not. At all.

Like I said, Gopher Nation has split apart into factions. And I mean faction in the traditional, Madison-esque shit coming straight at you from Federalist 10 sense of the word: “a number of citizens, whether amounting to a minority or majority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion.” Now, Madison was referring to political factions, particularly those associated with property, and how a direct democracy or small republic may be unable cope with the vagaries of the human condition. Who cares about such ephemera? We’ve got real-life Gopher football factions!

We’ve got two fairly well-defined camps. While I’m sure neither camp represents a majority of Gopher fans, it makes for a better narrative if you pretend everyone is in one or the other. There is no Dana only Zuul, where we replace “Dana” with “gray area” and “Zuul” with “black or white.” What fun is pumping out opinions if you can’t use the written word to assault straw men and false dichotomies?

The issue at the heart of the disagreement is the offense. Not even sure why I typed that sentence because, if you’re one of the thirteen people who read this, you already know. The positions roughly break down into “shit, we’re fucked” or “settle down, we’re fine.”

We’ll start with the latter, which we’ll refer to going forward as ENJOY THE SEASON (ETS). These peeps are happy that we’re 3 – 1 and don’t understand why people are so angry. We dominated three of our four non-conference games and happened to run into a better team against TCU. While there may be some reservations about the Gophers’ offensive potential come conference play, the maxim here is we’ve done what we needed to do to win. Why do we need to do more than that for people to be happy?

Folks in this camp usually go for the counterpunch. They’ll wait for someone to open a vein about how angry they are that we have no passing game in year four, how the team isn’t any better than it was when Kill took over and how we’ll struggle to win a conference game with a one-dimensional offense, then strike. Their responses are usually pragmatic, if laced with condescension. Suggestions that we wait for nine months, only get 12, maybe 13 games, so it seems silly to be miserable even after winning. Threads about focusing on the positives rather than dwelling on the negative. Practicality is king.

The central premise for ETS is, effectively, that each game is an individual event rather than a progression from one to the next. Consequently, a strong or weak performance in one aspect of one game – or many games – has little to no bearing on how the team will perform in the following weeks. So, to ETS, less is known about the remainder of the schedule than is known. We should have a chance in every game, we have our strengths and weaknesses, as do our opponents. We’ve got good coaches who will figure it out, so let the season play out and savor the process regardless of the outcome. To worry about what will happen next week is akin to being frightened of the boogeyman – it’s merely a manifestation of fear of the unknown.

The offense, then, has had three good games and one poor one. It hasn’t been flashy, but it hasn’t needed to be flashy to get the job done. That we’ve been unable or unwilling to pass is moot – we haven’t needed to pass to win, and to win is the single important objective. Maybe we won’t be able to pass against Michigan and other B1G teams; but we don’t know that yet. Why worry about the monster under your bed when you’re outside on a beautiful summer day?

The other camp, the Oceania to ETS’s Eastasia, we shall refer to as FAHK. While there may be some measure of satisfaction that we’re 3 – 1, at the forefront of this faction’s mind is the Gophers offensive ineptitude. We are one dimensional and will be exposed against better defenses. TCU was a harbinger of the Gophers B1G season, where we go belly up when the running game is stopped. It’s nice to assert our will against lesser opponents, but that part of the season is done and what do we expect to do now?

FAHK is looking at the 2014 season as a repeat of the 2013 season through this point: maul FCS- and non-BCS-conference teams only to get shut down and pantsed against your real competition. Very recent history is on their side and, somehow, they’ll point out, the passing offense appears to have regressed even by last year’s low standards. Generally speaking, FAHK is more assertive in sharing this view and are genuinely piqued when confronted by arguments from ETS. There is dismay that this season is playing out identically to last season and others aren’t acknowledging it. Imagine you and some friends have seen two trains race toward each other on the same track and produce a fiery wreck. Now, some time later, you’re watching two trains on the same track, moving at full bore toward the same point, yet your friends state they don’t believe they will crash. You would have difficulty muting your disbelief. Past performance must be some indication of future result.

Thus, there is an air of certainty, a knowledge, of you will, associated with FAHK’s view on the program. We saw last year’s first five games and we’re suffering from the same pratfalls now as we did then. In fact, we’re objectively worse than we were in 2013 with respect to passing the ball. We played poorly in all four games and only won three because we outclassed them in talent – that won’t be the case going forward. Contrary to ETS, FAHK believes that past games are indicative of where the program is, that history is progressive and directional. FAHK isn’t afraid of the boogeyman. FAHK knows what ETS is calling the boogeyman is really a rabid St. Bernard who will chew your throat out. To suggest otherwise is to deny knowledge to make room for faith in the coaches.

So, who’s right? I’ll use the author’s prerogative, find a third way and say they’re both right and both wrong. I tend to agree with ETS that it’s absolutely worth celebrating any win. Guise, we’re not that far removed from losing to New Mexico State and the University of fucking South Dakota and here we are puling over what is, by any measure, three pretty dominant wins. None were terribly pretty, but we’re doing what decent teams are supposed to do and beating lesser opponents fairly decisively. 

I also think we’ve got more to the offense than we’ve shown thus far, so there’s an element of knowledge that’s missing at this point. Limegrover has shown he can be fairly creative; but only in instances where the game is of particular importance and we need to do things a little differently. None of the games this year have been that important, so we’ve been given the non-flavored gruel and we’ll damn well like it.

But I can’t accept there isn’t any cause for anxiety. This season is shaping up to be identical to 2013, where TCU played the part of last year’s Iowa. If that holds true going forward, this weekend’s game against Michigan will be uncomfortable. There is no way we get to six or seven wins as one dimensional as we are on offense. We are under 50% in completions and have two passing TDs versus five interceptions. We simply have to be further along in the maturity of this offense than we are right now. But we have seen no evidence that’s the case. Perhaps the coaches will open things up against Michigan and we’ll see a more robust passing game. But, again, there is nothing to support the belief that even if we did open things up, we have a quarterback on the roster who can execute it. Frankly, if you’re not a little bit concerned I want some of your Xanax.


So, here we are. Fighting amongst ourselves heading into one of the bigger games of the year. This is a game ripe for the taking, as Michigan is astoundingly weak offensively. They lead the nation in turnovers and we are second in takeaways. Santa Claus meets a greedy child. Hopefully, our friends in ETS are right, the coaches have been holding things back and we’ll run four verts for sixty minutes. Nothing will be held back in this game, so this time next week, we will know who will win our Gopher civil war.

(Frothy's starting word count: 24,241; Finishing word count: 26,018)

Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday Night Descent to the Fiery Depths of Despair - Pre-SJSU

Here we are. Another Friday night, another mountain of booze to drink to take the edge off. Things are still a little raw from last weekend. I mean, even a week later I still feel a little jilted. That’s totally not fair, of course; it’s one game and was probably a couple of standard deviations worse than we’ll play in any game for the rest of the year. But it’s hard to come into this game with a lot of swagger. Hence, the gallon of Bushmills I’ll be consuming tonight. Wheee.

I know nothing about SJSU other than their run defense wasn’t very good last year and David Fales no longer plays for them. I would typically lean on TRE’s astute analysis of this week’s opponent, but he’s been travelling this week and might not get one done. I could fill in, of course, since that’s what friendship in the bloglyfe is all about. But I’m way more about laziness than I am about friendship in the bloglyfe.

Here’s what I’ll say about SJSU: it’s a team we should definitely beat. We let them hang around in the first half last year, basically because Fales was using lasers and satellites and shit to hit his receivers where only they could make the catch. He was spitting fire, man. In the second half, we switched to some radical 3-1-7 defense and basically shut them down. Our offense may not have improved very much, particularly if last week was the benchmark of what we can expect going forward, but our defense is still solid. Since SJSU won’t have a bro on the team as talented as Fales using sorcery and time travel to make throws, we should be able to keep them contained defensively while flaying them with #RUTMs.

Two reasons why I’m confident we’ll win. SJSU has zero Apostrophe in Name Players. None! Do you even recruit SJSU? Also.

GERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRG

Effing Greg Robinson? Really, guise? I’m sure he’s a nice guy and probably throws a hell of a Christmas party, but dude has been anathema in college football for a decade. What the hell was the interview process?

SJSU: “Tell us about a time you were successful as a coach.”

Gerg: “Well, I was a pretty good defensive coordinator in the NFL. I coached the Broncos teams that won those Super Bowls.”

SJSU: “Wow, terrific. That’s great. That was when, again?”

Gerg: “1997 and 1998.”

SJSU: “Oh, okay. What have you done since then?”

Gerg: “Well, I helped Texas get their act together defensively last season under Mack Brown.”

SJSU: “Ah, yes, of course you did. What about in the intervening 15 years? What did you do over that period?”

Gerg: “Well, I was probably singlehandedly responsible for a lot of alcohol consumption and cirrhotic livers  in upstate New York and Michigan.”

SJSU: “Great, hired!””

Again, I’m sure he’s a great dude, but I’d seriously consider Kevin Effing Cosgrove before getting 
Gerg on as my defensive coordinator. Of course, now that I’ve said that, we’ll find out dude has become the Gary Kasparov of defensive minds and will hold us to 67 yards of offense. And then we’ll all wake up Sunday morning in a Gerg-induced haze.

*     *     *

So, it looks like Chris Streveler will get his first start tomorrow. That hasn’t been confirmed, but I’m at a 62% buzz and pretend is way easier at this point. I’m a little excited about it, to be honest. Got a guy I know who coached him in little league baseball who has nothing but great things to say about the kid. Dude is clearly a gamer: he skipped that pass at the end of last week’s game and was clearly beating himself up about it as he walked to the sideline. He seems like the kind of dude who, if he played tennis, would get called for racket abuse after missing shots on the reg. Big fan of people who would abuse their rackets.

Not sure what it is, but I’ve been a fan of his beyond the anecdotes from my buddy and belief that he’d need a dumpster full of tennis rackets to make it through a two-set match. He’s pretty obviously faster than any of our quarterbacks since, Gray (and he may be faster than senior-year Gray, who was pushing 250 at that point) and he can’t possibly be a worse passer than Leidner was last week. He has the makings of a Jordan Lynch-styled run-first-pass-when-you-respect-my-running-game quarterback. Maybe that style of quarterback isn’t what we want, but it’s the style of quarterback we deserve. As MV brilliantly articulated in his latest piece for The Daily Gopher, the Kill regime has failed to either recruit or develop (or both) a quarterback that appropriately fits their scheme. And it’s due to the vacillation between an option-oriented approach and a spread-based framework where passing is more critical to the success of the offense. Two different skillsets from a quarterbacking perspective are required and, until the coaches are set on a philosophy, it’s tough to define what we have at the position.

For my money, Strev is perfect for an option-based attack. He’s fast, appears to make the appropriate reads and is a gritty, tough player (gym rat, coach on the field, heady, etc.). He’s got a quirky throwing motion, but if he’s not operating as a traditional pocket passer, that’s not really the end of the world. I think that’s the sort of offense we’re going with tomorrow and we’ll have a quarterback controversy on our hands going into the Michigan game.

*     *     *

Oh, there’s an elephant in the room? Sweet, blessed injuries. We could field a nine-man roster with dudes currently on the injury report. We would change the name of our team to Minnesota-Bethune-Cockran to make it totally legit, too. Multiple hyphens make everything legit.

Cobber, Maxx, Epping. All dudes who are key to the success of this team, all suffering through some sort of injury. The best thing that could happen to us is to get up by a couple of scores early and get their backups in to make sure they’re healthy for the start of the B1G season. Couple of problems, though: I’m neither sure they’ll even be able to play nor that they’ll be healthy enough to produce at a high enough level to get us into a spot where they can be subbed. A lesser, injured Cobb or Maxx is probably superior to their backup; but playing them while injured risks a more serious injury. It’s just an ugly spot to be in.


The injuries make an anxiety-inducing situation all the more, uh, anxiety inducing. We’re already so, so young and adding more youth opens us up to a lot more negative downside. Frosh and sophomores just have a much higher propensity for eff ups, irrespective of their natural talent. I’ll be hitting it hard at tailgating tomorrow to pre-numb the potential pain.

(Frothy's starting word count: 23,080; Finishing word count: 24,241)