Gopher Football Blog
GOPHER FOOTBALL BLOG
Notes and other interesting items from behind the scenes and around the Minnesota Football program will be found here in the Gopher Football Blog throughout the Golden Gopher season. If you have an interesting Gopher football story to pass along, or would just like to ask a question or pass along a comment about the blog, please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
September 26, 2008
We promised we'd have a little more information on what some of the Ohio natives and their families will be up to this weekend. So here you go ...
Sophomore guard D.J. Burris is expecting 30 people to be in attendance at Ohio Stadium for the game tomorrow. The Burris family is also expecting a crowd of somewhere near 50 people to get together at their home in Kenton, Ohio tonight. Family members of other Gopher football players -- including the families of Willie VanDeSteeg, Jay Thomas and the Tow-Arnetts -- will all gather at the Burris household, much like they did three weeks ago on the eve of the Bowling Green game.
Burris' linemate Dom Alford (a native of Cleveland) says he is also expecting around 30 friends and family members at the game tomorrow. Alford says his injured ankle is feeling pretty good and he's hoping to get on the field tomorrow. I know he would love the opportunity to play in front of all the folks who will come to Columbus to support him Saturday. Punter Justin Kucek, who is from Canfield, Ohio, will be playing in front of around 15 members of his family and friends.
The Gophers were loose and enjoying themselves for the early portion of the walk-through. Near the end, when there was a little work to be done and a need for focus, it was there. There is really no way to tell what the reaction will be for so many Gophers who haven't played in front of an Ohio Stadium crowd. I guess we'll find out at around 12:03 p.m. EDT tomorrow. There seemed to be a feeling of confidence from the team throughout the week.
Buckle up, Gopher fans ... Big Ten play is less than one day away.
Chances are, most of them are hitting up teammates for extra tickets. Garry Bowman and I had a conversation with Burris after practice last night. He is expecting nearly 20 of his family and friends to be at Ohio Stadium Saturday. I'm sure the other five guys are in a similar situation. All six of the Ohio natives on the Gopher squad enjoyed their trip to Bowling Green a few weeks ago, getting to play in front of a number of people who don't get to see them play on a weekly basis. This week has the possibility of being even more special, if the Gophers pull off the upset over a nationally-ranked Buckeyes' squad.
We'll hopefully have more from the Ohioans and some details on what their families are up to for this weekend's game tomorrow after we arrive in Columbus.
I'm assuming that if you're reading this blog, you're a hard-core college football fan. Why else would you be reading, right? Well, if you are a hard-core college football fan, the NCAA has a pretty cool new way to keep track of your favorite team's schedule. You can now download any FBS (formerly Division I-A) or FCS (formerly I-AA) team's schedule into your e-mail/calendar provider. Go to http://www.ncaafootball.com/ or just click here to go directly to the football schedule download page.
The NCAAFootball.com software, created by a company called SynchEvents, supports all available operating systems and once a user is signed up, downloading a schedule becomes as easy as a few clicks of the mouse. When game times are announced or changed, this unique program will automatically update the user’s calendar providing the most up-to-date schedule information. So when the game time for the Minnesota-Michigan battle for the Little Brown Jug or the time for the Axe game with Wisconsin is announced in a few weeks, your calendar will automatically receive the change.
I received an e-mail from Ed in Wisconsin, who is a transplanted Gopher fan over in America's Dairyland. Ed had a number of questions regarding Minnesota Football and I'd like to share answers to some of those questions here in the blog.
Ed's first (and longest) question had to do with the wide receiver position. He wanted to know why the Gophers' highly-touted young wide receivers hadn't contributed a single catch yet this season. The question came in prior to the Florida Atlantic game when Brandon Green recorded the first reception for the freshmen wideouts. But his question is valid, nonetheless. The answer as to why they haven't shown more production is quite simple. Adam Weber has completed 40 percent of his passes to Eric Decker and that's simply because nobody has found a way to cover him to date. Also, Ben Kuznia has been tough to get off the field. The junior has made some pretty clutch receptions, is a very good route-runner and a pretty tough blocker. The young guys are getting reps and opportunities. As the Big Ten season unfolds and defenses do more to take Decker away, I would expect these youngsters to see more balls coming their way.
Ed also asked about two freshmen on the defense -- Jewhan Edwards -- how much are they seeing the field and will they red-shirt? Edwards has actually seen quite a bit of duty and is listed as the backup to defensive tackle Garrett Brown. Cooper has not played this season and it looks (at least right now) like they plan on red-shirting him.
Ed also asked about the status of Sam Maresh. All signs are pointing to a very good recovery for the Champlin Park product, who signed with the Gophers last spring. In fact, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune had a piece about his recovery a couple weeks ago. For those of you who haven't seen it, click here.
Speaking of stories in the Star-Tribune, Gopher beat writer Kent Youngblood had a couple very good articles this week. One focused on Eric Decker and the school shooting at Rocori High School five years ago. The other was a nice look into the background of Simoni Lawrence. Again, if you haven't had a chance to see these, click on the links.
The Gophers, with their 4-0 start, have generated some national attention. Head coach Tim Brewster will be appearing on a national radio show tomorrow. The Gopher mentor taped an interview with Tim Brando earlier today for use on Friday's Tim Brando Show on Sporting News Radio. The interview will air on Brando's show at 11:25 a.m. Central Time. Sporting News Radio can be heard in numerous markets across the United States. It is also heard on Sirius Satellite Radio on Channel 127 and on XM Satellite Radio on Channel 144. The show can also be heard live on http://www.sportingnewsradio.com/.
Minnesota has also gotten a fair amount of publicity on ESPN.com in the last few days. Click here to read a piece from Adam Rittenberg on the Minnesota defense, its confidence and ability to take the ball away early through the first month of the season. Follow this link to the Forde Yard Dash, where ESPN's Pat Forde mentions Gopher head coach Tim Brewster and says he believes the Gophers will go bowling at the end of the season.
That's it for today. We'll have more Friday when we get to Columbus.
September 19, 2008
Tiana Channer and her husband Steve have been Gopher Football season ticket-holders for 11 years. The Channers also hold memberships in the Goal Line Club and attend as many Minnesota Football events as they possibly can. That’s where this story gets its start.
The Channers attended the 2007 St. Paul Chamber Kick-Off Luncheon, with a group of friends who they tailgate with and attend Gopher home games with. The Channers were among a group who was seated at a table with then-junior tight end Jack Simmons. Tiana said they had a great time talking with him and learning about the Gopher program from him.
“But I think the main thing we took away from that encounter was what an articulate, gracious young man Jack was,” Channer said.
After getting to know Simmons that day, the Channers took it upon themselves to “adopt” him and become his own personal cheering section. Since then, the Channers have been at every Gopher Victory Walk with signs and shouts of encouragement for him.
According to Tiana, Simmons was always gracious about it and would smile and wave to them. Then, at this summer’s Fan Fest, the Channers tracked him down and re-introduced themselves to him. Simmons remembered them and spent a few minutes chatting with the Channers, who told Jack to watch for them at the Victory Walk again this year.
At the season-opener this season, the Channers were there at the Victory Walk once again. They had their signs made up and cheered for Jack as he made his way into the Metrodome. Simmons, as usual, had a big smile and a wave for them. A couple weeks later, prior to the Montana State game, Simmons even paused to have a picture taken with the Channers and their group. That photo is included above.
“I think Jack is an example, among many affiliated with the Gophers, of a young man who really represents the U. and the Golden Gophers in such a positive way,” Tiana said. “He has humored our cheering and screaming and helped to make us even feel more engaged as football fans. We appreciate what Coach Brewster has done in terms of making this program accessible’ to the masses and Jack has been a great ambassador of that philosophy.”
With Simmons being a senior this season, the Channers have also found their newest “adoptee” on the football squad. They sat with offensive lineman Matt Carufel at this year’s St. Paul Football Kick-Off Luncheon and have already added signs and cheers for him as well.
I heard about the Channers’ story through an e-mail from Tiana, who was hoping I could pass her feelings along to Jack’s parents. As a parent, Tiana felt Jack’s parents should know what sort of an impact their son was having on them. Jack’s mother Cindy even sent Tiana a note back thanking her.
I also wanted to pass this along. Marcus Sherels has been solid at cornerback through the first three weeks of the season. Here’s what ESPN.com’s Adam Rittenberg had to say about him in his Big Ten blog.
September 9, 2008
Ironically, his other Big Ten Conference Player of the Week award was also shared (only with just one other player) and it was also in Week 2. Here's hoping Weber wins a few more of these over the next few years, and not just for his performances in the second game of each season.
As for Weber's performance, it was quite possibly one of the more efficient performances I've ever seen from a quarterback. No, he didn't throw for a huge amount of yards. But anytime a QB throws 25 passes and completes more than 80 percent of them, that's a darn good night. Throw in the fact that he tossed three TD passes and didn't throw a pick and it adds up to a pass efficiency rating of 201.89. For those of you that don't follow the pass efficiency rating closely, a rating of more than 200 is outstanding. For comparison, the single-season record for pass efficiency rating is 186.0 and Weber is currently at 171.14.
Minnesota's big win at Bowling Green surprised a lot of people, considering the Gophers entered the game as underdogs of anywhere from 4-7 points. In fact, the Gophers have received more attention than I've seen from ESPN.com in a long time. A quick look at the website of the "Worldwide Leader in Sports" shows numerous positive references to the Gophers. Here are a few of those:
In his weekly column, On The Mark, Mark Schlabach praises Gopher coach Tim Brewster as one of the nation's "Hot Coaches." On the College GameDay Final page, Minnesota got a mention for picking up its second win (bottom right-hand corner) and Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg proclaims the Gophers are "turning the corner" in his entry entitled Big Ten lessons in Week 2.
September 5, 2008
The trip was relatively uneventful today, which is always a good thing when you're traveling with this number of people. The Gophers' flight left Minneapolis-St. Paul International at about 12:15 p.m. this afternoon. After a 1 1/2-hour flight to Toledo and a short bus ride to Bowling Green, the squad held a brief walk-through at Doyt Perry Stadium on the Bowling Green State University campus. We've also posted a Photo Album from today's walk-through.
Following the walk-through the team headed back for Toledo to the Hilton. As of this writing, the team was out at a movie, but will be back in the hotel shortly. They'll hit the sack, then have most of the day to wait tomorrow before the 7:34 p.m. kickoff.
Here are a couple quick notes to pass along regarding tomorrow's game ...
First of all, remember the Gopher-Falcon matchup will be aired nationally on ESPNU. We've received a number of questions this week in the athletic communications office about why the game is on ESPNU and not the Big Ten Network, etc. The television broadcast partner has everything to do with the home team, so the TV situation for this week's game has nothing to do with Minnesota or the Big Ten.
A sellout is expected tomorrow night at "The Doyt" as they call Perry Stadium here in Ohio. The Falcons and their fans are excited to have a Big Ten team visit their home stadium. It is the first time a Big Ten team will play at Perry Stadium, which was built in 1966.
Bowling Green is no stranger to games vs. BCS-level teams and under head coach Gregg Brandon, they have faced Big Ten opponents numerous times. Since 2000, Bowling Green ranks fourth among non-BCS teams in victories over BCS conference teams with 10. Only Utah (14), Fresno State (12) and TCU (11) have more. The Falcons are 3-5 against the Big Ten under Brandon.
Minnesota and Bowling Green have met twice previously with the series tied at 1-1. The Gophers have a long history with the MAC, with a 25-3-1 record dating back to 1969. But Minnesota has only played three road games vs. the MAC, going 2-1. The Golden Gophers aren't currently scheduled to play another MAC opponent until 2011, when they are slated to face Miami (Ohio).
That's it for tonight. We'll have another Gopher Gameday Blog for you tomorrow
August 27, 2008
For 13 of Brewster’s Gopher players, this past Saturday was an opportunity to give back to the community. The group got up relatively early, made a short trip over to St. Paul and did a clinic with third- and fourth-grade football players at Oxford Recreation Center. The Gopher players spent some time talking with the youngsters and also took them through some football drills. Mostly, they just wanted to show these kids that they cared.
“With us being Big Ten athletes, we get looked up to by a lot of people,” sophomore left tackle Dom Alford told me. “We were just hoping to be a good influence on these kids. I know when I was growing up, some members of the Cleveland Browns came to talk to a group of us. That really inspired me to continue playing football and to work hard at it. I hope we were able to do that with these kids, too.”
This group of Gopher players who made their way out to the Oxford Recreation Center deserves some recognition for their efforts. The Minnesota football student-athletes who were there are: Dom Alford, Xzavian Brandon, Tramaine Brock, R.J. Buckner, Steve Davis, Jacob Glickstein, Curtis Hughes, Da’Jon McKnight, Marcus Singletary, Nathan Tow-Arnett, Logan U’u, Willie VanDeSteeg and D.L. Wilhite.