Will Minnesota Gophers start with win at Southen Cal?

Probably not.  Chances are maybe 10% or less.  But in a perfect storm kind of a situation, the Trojans will be typically cocky and overconfident and the Gophs will be relaxed and play over their head and pull off a surprise.  A big part of that would come from Marqueis Gray, the new quarterback.  Virginia surprising USC in the Coliseum in last year’s opener probably reduces the likelihood substantially – but a fellow can dream, can’t he?

NBA Timberwolves prediction

The Wolves will win 30 or more games this year, at least doubling their meager total of 15 wins last year, and putting them higher in the standings that predicted by SI – and others.

I base this opinion on hearing Dave Kahn, the Wolves’ GM or whatever title he goes by, being interviewed on KFAN this afternoon. I am impressed that he has an excellent grasp of the types of players he will need to assemble a good team. Whether or not he has the judgment to select those players remains to be seen, but I believe that he and Kurt Rambis have substantially improved the talent level, adding height, length, defensive ability and athletic ability.

Now let’s see if Kahn and Rambis are right about the minds of the young players assembled and if they can get the latent talent out of them that will be needed. The most questionable and likely the most important will be Darko Milicic.  With him, my prediction will be easy to achieve.  Without, the rest of the new players (and the few remaining) will really have their work cut out for them.  Darko’s rep in the NBA is that of a joke – the biggest draft bust in recent history, but there is no doubt that he has the physical ability to be a force if the Wolves can get his head right.

Back to Minnesota

Yep, we’re back – to 10 degree weather and a pile of snow almost as tall as me where the snow plow piled it up clearing our driveway!  Already missing Arizona…

Arizona

Well, we arrived in Arizona Tuesday, and surprise – unlike last year when the temp never got out of the high 50s/low 60s, the temp is 72 today.  Picture us next to the pool, martini in hand and toasting all our Minnesota friends and relatives – well, actually no martini, since glass is not allowed by the pool, but substitute a diet coke and you get the idea.

Hold onto the dang ball!

As much fun as I’ve had watching the Minnesota Vikings this year, savoring the leadership of Favre and the running of Peterson, I can’t see them going anywhere unless Peterson learns to hang onto the ball.  Now that he has a rep as a fumbler, defenses are out to strip it from him.  And the better defenses he’ll face in the playoffs will be better at it.  I just cringe at the thought.

Ball carriers don’t often lose a rep like that, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

The Gophers weren’t prepared

The simple fact of the matter is that the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers lost to the underdog University of Illinois (35-32) because they weren’t mentally prepared for the game.  I knew my prediction of an easy win was in trouble when Kent Youngblood of the Minneapolis Star Tribune wrote in his blog that the Gophers weren’t showing the same energy and enthusiasm for preparation as they had shown the previous week while preparing for Michigan State.  And it turned out he was right!

46-287951284Winning the second half 25-7 doesn’t mean much if you lose the first half 28-7.  Losing the first half by that margin can only result from coming out flat.  And the responsibility for that does not belong to the players.  Nor does it belong to the Offensive or Defensive Coordinators.  It belongs squarely on the shoulders of the head coach, Tim Brewster.

To be fair, the Gophers haven’t played a lot of games lately where they were easily favored, so it easy to see how a solid victory the previous week over the favored Michigan State Spartans would give the Gophers a sense of well-being that obscured the warning signs of self-satisfaction and over-confidence.  That isn’t something Minnesota has had to deal with much in recent years.

This should be a learning experience for Brewster.  It shouldn’t happen to the Gophers again in the next year or so – until it has faded far enough into memory that Brewster needs to learn the lesson again.  Just as Mark Dantonio wasn’t fired for losing to Minnesota and Ohio State’s Jim Tressel wasn’t fired for losing to Purdue, Brewster shouldn’t be fired  for this.  If it happens again repeatedly, then you start talking about length of contract….  Let’s see what happens this week against serious underdog (FCS) South Dakota State.

What a difference a week makes…

Last week, it was a sad time in the Sugg residence, with everyone losing. This week, the reverse is true – will except for the evil empire known as the Yankees.  The local Minnesota Golden Gophers pulled off a minor upset by downing the Michigan State Spartans – in spite of a record 17 penalties – an embarrassing number of which were personal fouls – Brewster’s gotta talk to those guys about discipline!  And wonder of wonders, the Duke football team surprised by winning their third straight ACC game against UVA.  Sorry about that, Cavalier fans, but that was really a pleasant surprise.  Tarheels next! Wait! What? Aren’t they supposed to play the Heels at the end of the season?  I knew I didn’t like the new ACC lineup….  One more win and the Blue Devils will be bowl eligible!  Who are those guys and where did David Cutcliffe come from.  (Well, I know, but that’s another story….)

Then Sunday the Vikings followed up with a win and season sweep against the arch-rival cheeseheads – I mean Packers.  Ah, basking in the glory…..

To focus more on the Gophers, they won Big Ten offensive AND defensive player of the week, with Adam Weber, the QB from Shoreview MN  throwing for over 400 yards, and Garrett Brown earning several tackles for loss and a forced fumble and recovery.  Wow.  Looks like they rebounded from the beatings by PSU and tOSU – let’s just hope they can keep it up.  Hopefully they will, with the next opponent being Brewster’s alma mater, Illinois.  Woo hoo!  I smell a bowl game in Minnesota’s future.