By Justin Gaard
It's been a while since we've emptied the old Gopher football notebook, and what better
time to do it than after a thrilling, exhilarating, exasperating, tense, crazy
win at Indiana on Saturday?
Before we get to Saturday, let's go back to a Thursday afternoon practice late last fall. I
was standing on the sidelines watching when Jerry Kill walked over to me. After
a few minutes of mostly small talk Kill kind of sighed and said, "It
usually takes us about 4 years to get things rolling, but I'm starting to see
stuff that makes me think we can get this thing going next year (year 3)."
I've thought about that brief conversation a lot the past 2 weeks.
Brad Childress once uttered those words to describe how 12 men ended up in a particularly
important huddle. Luckily for the Gophers this over communicating clarity had a
much different ending. With :25 left on Saturday,
the Gopher 9. A field goal would send the game to overtime; a touchdown would
win it for the Hoosiers. Tracy Claeys called timeout. As the timeout ended,
Brock Vereen held back to double-check with secondary coach Jay Sawvel exactly
where he was supposed to blitz on the next play. While he would later make fun
of himself for not picking up the loose ball on the ground, Vereen was exactly
where he was supposed to be and did a heck of a job knocking Hoosier Tevin
Campbell off the ball.
Jerry Kill has repeatedly said the last few weeks that you don't fix what isn't broken. Many
of us assumed that meant that Mitch Leidner would continue to start at
quarterback with Phillip Nelson coming off the bench. We weren't the only ones
that were surprised by that move: Nelson told me postgame he was shocked when
they told him he was starting. Guessing the starting quarterback week to week
with this team has become a fool’s errand but it's pretty clear that Nelson has
re-established himself as the top guy.
What's up with Ra'shede?
It's come up the last 2 weeks via Twitter and email and I wish I had the answer. The Gophers
have always tried to play a lot of defensive lineman, but there have been long
stretches during the last 2 games with Ra'shede Hageman on the sidelines. He
had his left wrist taped on Saturday and also had his right arm treated for turf
burn but to my knowledge there isn't another injury keeping him off the field.
His status is something to watch this week.
Bowling, but where?
A quick scan of bowl predictions:
-Jerry Palm, CBS Sports: Gator Bowl
-Tom Dienhart, BTN: Gator Bowl
-ESPN Big Ten Blog: Texas Bowl (otherwise known as the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas)
My 2 cents on bowl possibilities? The Gophers need 8 wins and 2
to play on New Years Day. The Gator Bowl (on New Years Day) gets 5th choice for
a Big Ten team. With
probably be the 6th pick. The bowl picking 6th? The