And they’re off

Posted on August 10th, 2009 – 4:36 PM
By Kent Youngblood

Greetings.

Just got back from the half-hour’s worth of practice that coach Tim Brewster allows us to watch each day. That half-hour, by the way, includes stretching, some individual drills and the like. Not a lot of meat on that bone. And no full pads on the players either.

That said, here are some impressions from day one of Camp Brewster:

–Hayo Carpenter looks a little stronger than you might expect of a 5-11, 185 pounder. He is also very, very fast and appears to run routes fairly fluidly. Of course, I didn’t see him going against a cornerback.

–Ra’shede  Hageman looks like a beast. He already looks like he has an NFL body. Man. He’s 6-6, looks to be over 250 and he can run.

–Duane Bennett was among a small group of running backs working with the first team (along with Kevin Whaley and DeLeon Eskridge). Bennett is moving well and appears bigger than he was last year. He’s up at least 15 pounds. We’ll see how the extra muscle affects his game. He was practicing today without a knee brace, a good sign. Of course, it was a no-pads practice today.

–None of this is exactly surprising, but: Jeff Tow-Arnett is working with the first team at center, with Chris Bunters at left guard. Trey Davis and D.J. Burris were backing up Tow-Arnett, with Dom Alford the backup left guard.

–Early on it was Anthony Jacobs and Cedric McKinley as the first-team defensive ends outside of tackles Garrett Brown and Eric Small. Lee Campbell and Simoni Lawrence were joined by Nate Triplett at linebacker. I think it’s going to be difficult to keep Keanon Cooper off the field. He’s fast and he looks to have added some weight to his 6-0 frame.
That’s about it. I’ll throw some more stuff up later tonight after writing my story. It will be rather late, as practice doesn’t end until 6:15 or so.

I had one other item , one I’m tired of already. I spent a good bit of time today going through and deleting comments that contained profanity, threats and all sorts of crummy stuff. I was looking for suggestions as to how to deal with this. I am leaning this way: A no-tolerance, one-strike-and-you’re out policy. One profanity? You’re out. One homophobic comment? Gone.

What do you think?

Brewster speaks

Posted on August 7th, 2009 – 12:29 PM
By Kent Youngblood

Greetings. Just got back from coach Tim Brewster’s pre-training camp press conference. I’ll put more up on the blog later, but I wanted to hit on a few things before I listen back to the tape.

 Here are some tidbits:

–Ryan Wynn is battling a back problem that will keep him out of the start of camp. Brewster wasn’t specific as to how long Wynn would be down. But, for the start of camp, it looks like Trey Davis and Jeff Tow-Arnett will battle at the center spot while D.J. Burris, Dom Alford chris Bunders will compete at left guard.  Brewster said Tow-Arnett, who had reconstructive knee surgery that ended his 2008 season is 100 percent.

–It looks like one of the most intense battles for playing time will come at running back. Duane Bennett is 100 percent ready to go, but Brewster wasn’t ready to name a front-runner at the position. I will say this: Brewster would like to have a big, strong workhorse back, but there might not be that person on the roster. I think a number of folks will play there. I do know that Brewster mentioned more than once — and I’ve heard it elsewhere — that Kevin Whaley has had a very good spring and could be a factor this season.

–Defensive tackle Joey Searcy, fron Grand Prairie, Texas, did not qualify academically to enroll and is not on the roster. He could grayshirt.

I’ll get back to you with more this afternoon.

Weber on O’Brien watch list

Posted on August 3rd, 2009 – 2:55 PM
By Kent Youngblood

Greetings.

Just got an email from the folks at the O’Brien Award, which honors the nation’s best college quarterback each year.

The Gophers’ Adam Weber is one of 33 quarterbacks on the pre-season watch list for the award, a list that includes all the big names (Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy, etc.).

Weber is one of four Big Ten quarterbacks on the list. Daryll Clark (Penn State), Terrelle Pryor (Ohio State) and Juice Williams (Illinois) are the others.

The O’Brien foundation will follow the performances of all eligible quarterbacks — which means they play at one of 120 Football Bowl subdivision schools — until semifinalists are selected in late October. Semifinalists will be named Oct. 26, finalists on Nov. 23 and the winner on Dec. 10.

Have a good day.

A football future for Decker

Posted on July 31st, 2009 – 12:12 PM
By Kent Youngblood

Greetings.

Well, we’re counting down to training camp. Today is the last day of off-season workouts. The players will take most of a week off before reporting for training camp.

Just thought I’d post some tidbits from Big Ten media days in Chicago.

Start with Eric Decker. We all know he’s chosen to play his senior year rather than sign a baseball deal. But it sounds like he’s decided that football is his future, period.

Here’s Decker this week: ”My love, now is in football,” he said. ”I love baseball. I love the opportunities it gave me. But I think my avenue is towards football.”

Decker said much of that decision rests on the lifestyle differences between the two sports. ”That’s a consideration,” he said. ”The lifestyle is so different between the two sports. Baseball it’s 162 games, you’re on the road all the time. In football you have 16 games, then playoffs. It’s more stable. I’m looking for more of that kind of career in my future.”

Brewster spent Monday and Tuesday telling everyone he could find in Chicago he thinks Decker is the best wide receiver in college football. Well, he’s up there, for sure. And there is no question his profile is higher in football than it is in baseball.

Incidentally, the shoulder he banged up during the baseball season has healed and Decker said he’s feels better physically than he has in months and months.

–Meanwhile, Lee Campbell spent much of his time in Chicago spreading the word on TCF Bank Stadium. Before leaving for the windy city, Campbell went over to the stadium and took some videos and pictures on his cell phone. Then he showed them to just about everybody he could in Chicago; the players went to a Cubs game on Monday night and Campbell was showing off the stadium to all of them. ”You’ve got to rub it in your face all you can,” he joked.

That’s about it. Have a good weekend.

More from Chicago

Posted on July 27th, 2009 – 4:15 PM
By Kent Youngblood

Back again from the Big Ten media day here in Chicago.
  Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald was the first coach up this morning, and he started with a joke:
  ”I did vote for Tim Tebow,” he deadpanned. ”I want to make that very clear.”
  This was a reference to the SEC media days, where the Old Ball coach — Steve Spurrier — managed to leave Tebow off of his preseason all-conference list.
  Got me to thinking that it would be kind of nice to have a little drama here with the Big Ten. But there was nothing like that here today. In fact, it was about as predictable as it gets.
  Every coach who made his way to the podium had to deal with some form of question dealing with the conference’s national reputation. Man, I bet they’re getting tired of that issue. As Illinois’ Ron Zook said, the answer is simple: Win BCS bowl games.
  There were a number of ideas thrown out in regards to making the Big Ten more competitive. Gophers coach Tim Brewster was asked about his decision to schedule USC in a home-and-home starting next year and whether other schools should follow his lead in making nonconference schedules tougher.
  It’s good for recruiting, Brewster said. ”To be honest with you, I want the University of Minnesota to be on that stage. I want to play nationally-televised games where a tremendous exposure is put on our program. And when you play USC, that happens. … I don’t think there is a downside, I really don’t.”

  But, generally, the coaches were fairly bland. Nobody took shots at each othere. There was no hot-button item. But that doesn’t mean there weren’t a few good lines.
  Fitzgerald started it with his Tebow comment. Here are a few more:

  Fitzgerald on what he did with his extra money now that he’s signed a contract extension: ”I bought a couple whiffle balls from Target for my boys,” he said. ”We had knocked too many into a couple yards over.”
  Indiana coach Bill Lynch made a tour of campus fraternities and sororities trying to drum up interest in his program. ”The sororities were a lot better than the fraternities,” Lynch joked. ”Shoot, they paid attention and listened. The fraternity guys wouldn’t even look up from eating.”
  Not surprisingly, Penn State’s Paterno had some of the better lines.
  On why he came back for yet another season: ”I missed you guys.”
  On whether he tires of defending his non-conference schedule: ”For me to get up here and worry about what people think about our nonconference schedule? Hey you guys have to talk about something. The fans have got to put something on those — what do you guys call those things, Twittle-do, Twittie-dee?”
  Ah, coach, it’s Twitter.
  Here’s another line from the elderly Paterno about his nonconference schedule: ”I try to stay out of the scheduling because we schedule so far ahead. And, obviously, I can’t be lookign who we’re going to be playing in the year 2020. I’m dumb, but I ain’t that dumb. And I’m optimistic, but I ain’t that optimistic.”
 

  Here are some other items I wasn’t able to fit into the paper today:

–Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany dealt with a number of issues. Here are his takes, in brief:

–On running the season into December, limiting the break before a bowl game: ”It’s a trend. You’re noticing something that hasn’t been there before.”
–Five of the Big Ten’s bowl agreements end after the upcoming season, and Delaney said there has been a lot of interest expressed from bowls looking to become a part of the Big Ten mix. Delaney said he’s talked with 11 or 12 groups, including those whose agreements with the conference end after this season. That group includes the Capital One, Outback, Alamo, Champs Sports and Motor City.
 
 
 

Greetings from the Windy City

Posted on July 27th, 2009 – 8:39 AM
By Kent Youngblood

I’m in Chicago for the annual Big Ten Conference pre-season media days. With all the coaches and selected players getting ready to talk at some length about the upcoming season, here’s a look at how the collected media views 2009 football.

There aren’t a lot of surprises.

In a vote of attending media, Ohio State has been chosen the preseason favorite to win the conference title, followed by Penn State and Michigan State.

So it should come as no surprise that the media also chose quarterback Terrelle Pryor the preseason offensive player of the year. Michigan State linebacker Greg Jones was chosen the preseason defensive player of the year.

 OSU is entering the season looking for a fifth straight title after finighing 10-3 overall last season and tying Penn State for the title with a 7-1 mark. Ohio State returns 12 starters from a year ago.

Ohio State and Penn State return two of the most productive quarterbacks from last season in Pryor and Daryll Clark.

It’s just my opinion, but the pick of MSU for third place seems odd. Last year the Spartans rode Javon Ringer to success, and now he’s gone. But they did finish 6-2 in conference play last year, appearing in a second consecutive bowl for the first time since 1997. they also have 15 starters back, eight on defense. That includes Jones, who finished with 127 tackles last season. he was a first-team all-conference.

That’s about it for now. I’ll get back to you later today.

A mid-afternoon update

Posted on July 23rd, 2009 – 2:01 PM
By Kent Youngblood

Greetings.

Just got off the phone with Cretin-Derham Hall football coach Mike Scanlan. I called him after reading Doogie’s blog today. Doogie quoted gatorcountry.com, an ESPN affiliate Web Site, with Seantrel Henderson saying his choices were, ”Florida, USC and Ohio State. … it’s going to be one of those three. They play for championships and they put a lot of people in the NFL.”
If this is true, it would be a disappointment for the Gophers. Minnesota coach Tim Brewster has done a good job of recruiting top in-state talent, but the top-ranked in-state player has gotten away. In February Bryce McNeal opted for Clemson, but five of the next highest-ranked players by Rivals.com in the state opted for the Gophers.
In 2008 Michael Floyd went to Notre Dame and Willie Mobley opted for Ohio State, but the Gophers got two of the next four top-ranked state players.
As of this afternoon I hadn’t yet reached Henderson. But I did call Scanlan, who told me he had talked to his star tackle player just yesterday. Scanlan said Henderson told him he hadn’t yet narrowed down his list that far. Indeed, Scanlon said it was his understanding that the Gophers were still on the list and that Henderson was shooting to narrow his list to five by the start of school next month.
Henderson, of course, has a lot of time to make up his mind. Like Doogie said, Henderson could change his mind a bunch of times before a decision has to be made. And you can bet, as the top-ranked player in the nation by Rivals, Henderson will hear from a lot of folks before that decision is made.

One other item: Gopherillustrated.com is reporting that Momence, Illinois running back Calvin Phillips has committed to be a part of the Gophers’ 2011 recruiting class.

That’s about it. Have a good afternoon.

Hello Hayo

Posted on July 21st, 2009 – 11:38 AM
By Kent Youngblood

Just a quick update on Hayo Carpenter, the highly-regarded junior college wide receiver. I blogged a while back about how people I was talking to said there shouldn’t be a problem with Carpenter qualifying academically for the upcoming semester.

 Well, Carpenter arrived in the Twin Cities on Monday, has apparently cleared all hurdles and looks good to go when practice starts Aug. 10; coach Tim Brewster officially welcomed ”HC” to the Twin Cities with a tweet.

That’s about all. Enjoy the day.

The Gophers make it official

Posted on July 14th, 2009 – 4:14 PM
By Kent Youngblood

Coach Tim Brewster made it official Tuesday, announcing that running back Hasan Lipscomb, a member of Brewster’s recruiting class last February, would not be a part of the Gophers’ football program.

And, for any of you wondering whether safety Tramaine Brock would be able to work himself back into the mix, the answer is no. Brock, who played in all 13 games last year as a junior college transfer, will officially, not be back.

Brewster also said recent back surgery will keep Josh Campion off the field for the 2009 season, but that the Gophers are looking forward to Campion joining the program sometime in the future.

And yet more stadium stuff

Posted on July 14th, 2009 – 3:56 PM
By Kent Youngblood

pokeintheeye asks about how much premium seating is still available. I just so happen to have gotten this info today:

All the outdoor club seats and all the loge boxes are sold out. Seven of the 37 suites are still available, as are 150 of the 250 indoor club seats.