There's not much more to be said about the past two weeks. The BCS human element has taught us that in football, it's not just whether you win or not, but also whether you've got the proper aesthetics in your performance. That's what Penn State and Ohio State hit on with Minnesota. The past two games felt awful. The excitement wasn't there, the coaches didn't perform, they had no answer for Paterno, Tressel and their braintrusts. They have made Gopher football fans feel like nothing much has changed since 2007, especially with the coaching staff. Yes, the talent on the field has been upgraded. Of that there can be no question. However, can there be any question that the talent on the sidelines has stagnated or regressed since 2007?
My dislike for Brewster's coaching stems from attending the Minnesota - Michigan game in Ann Arbor in 2007. I went with a cousin I hadn't seen in 10 years. You may recall the game - MN got a fumble return for a touchdown, Ryan Mallett was impersonating a QB for Michigan, Mike Hart was crocked on the sidelines.
One series stood out in my mind from that game. Near the end of the first half, I believe the Gophers were leading 10-3. Mallett fumbled a snap back to his own 3. There was about a minute left in the half. It was raining and windy. It was also second down, and the Gophers had 3 timeouts. Lloyd Carr called his patented off-tackle run.
And Brewster watched.
And Carr did it again.
And Brewster watched.
And the Wolverines took a knee, went to half, and then bludgeoned the Gophers in the second half to win 38-10.
I was screaming in the stands for Brewster to use his timeouts, to force a team backed up on its own 3 yard line to punt into the wind and rain, and to force its awful 2007 defense to defend a Gopher team which had success moving the ball on Michigan in the first half. I screamed for Brewster to put his bluster about having an aggressive, exciting team into practice. However, he didn't seize the opportunity and he let his players down. I've waited the past 20 games to see any change in his coaching style, any improvement in his sense of time, game dynamics, and schematic awareness. I'm still waiting.
I've taken a fair number of shots at Gopher players over time, some in particular and repeated, all the while recognizing that these kids make the choice to put in an
unbelievable number of hours 20 hours of mandatory work during the season, as well as those preparatory hours during the offseason. They choose to represent this team, the state of Minnesota. They want to play for you as fans. They want to defeat Iowa, Wisconsin, those stupid State schools. They want to win the Little Brown Jug and let you take a picture with it at the State Fair (still a prized picture in my scrapbook, from 2006). It's not their fault if they may just not have that technical or physical ability to get that extra yard, bring down that runner, or make the catch. They try hard. We should not confuse effort with ability. The players deserve our respect for playing for this team.
The coaches, however, should not put players in positions where they are exposed. They should not have players on the field in nickel coverage who are not good cover players. They should not have offensive linemen playing who are not ready to pull block, or are playing injured. They should not put a chain on the foot of a QB who has success throwing in a mobile pocket or improvising. They should not keep the team's most talented player on the sidelines except for crunch time. There is enough talent on this team for a good coach to have pulled an upset, any upset, beyond beating a sub .500 Illinois team last year. How do you think Brian Kelly or Kevin Sumlin would be pulling the strings?
(And let's quit the talk about program building and needing time to bring in your own guys. Danny Hope needed 6 games to beat Ohio State. Paul Johnson needed 12 games to beat, nay, beat DOWN, Miami and Georgia. A good coach can help his team to an upset victory.)
And BTW, Brewster has all you boxed in who are asking for extended Gray time. Do you think Gray's performance warrants more time? We may, yes, but he'll tell you it was in the 4th quarter down 38-0 - heck, even Reggie Ball could perform when the opposition was playing a prevent defense.
The truth is, though, that Brewster has boxed himself in. Compare it to Tressel. Last year the switch was made from Boeckman to Pryor in the first month of the season, when all was to play for in Columbus and the QB switch was seen as a proactive move by Tressel to jumpstart the team. Brewster's chance to switch the QB was during the Wisconsin game, when the season was early and the team could have benefited from a spark. Now, any switch would be reactive, to "save the season," and Brewster is understandably defensive about the topic given that he's being asked about it in EVERY NEWS CONFERENCE. As with the losses to Penn and Ohio State, the aesthetics of any QB switch now are not right. And that's Brewster's fault - he is now stuck with the QB his offensive coordinator has emasculated with his horrible playcalling and random switching with Gray.
Brewster needs to prove his worth. NOW. Sparty is a tough out - Illinois, if it's going to be up for any game, may be up for us - South Dakota State is 6-1 and just beat Northern Iowa - and Iowa should be on a let down after losing in Columbus. Brewster is going to be with us until 2011 at the earliest; however, he needs to prove he can coach NOW.
(1) Gopher hockey is scoring less than AC Green this year. Here are some other WCHA notes.
(2) Minnesota's coaches get the dumbs down from Rittenberg.
(3) Referees aren't doing themselves any favors this year. Here is a recap of yet another blown call during a Florida game. This follows the epic meltdown in refereeing during their game against Arkansas.