A few morsels for you today. I'd start here, if you haven't seen this already. Seantrel Henderson's dad has announced Seantrel's likely official visits to be: Ohio State, Notre Dame, USC, Oklahoma and Florida. This isn't a deal-breaker for Minnesota, since he'll be at every home game if he's in town. But, that list of teams is ominous, and it's rare for a guy to commit to a school where he doesn't take an official visit. One of the last? OU's Gerald McCoy, who will likely be a top-5 pick in the 2010 NFL Draft.
Other interesting news:
(1) The Manning Award announced its watch list for the 2009 season. Adam Weber is on the list. Of course, as long as Tim Tebow doesn't get assaulted during one of his prison fellowship sessions, he'll likely win. Of course, if the Mannings want to commemorate a college player who, like Peyton and Eli, couldn't win the big one and ultimately came up short as collegians, Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy currently look like nice choices.
(2) If Ron Zook can be on the hot seat two years removed from the "Rose Bowl Game," well, keep Brewster in your thoughts this year if the team doesn't improve.
(3) Heard of Bret Bielema? He deserves all the scorn he gets for being a mediocre, at best, coach. Over the weekend he suspended two backup safeties, Shane Carter and Aubrey Pleasant. Well, the players plan to fight the suspensions. The season threatens to unravel for Wisconsin before it even starts.
(4) Finally, an interesting post over at Brian Cook's MGOBLOG. An extremely bored Michigan fan decided to look at the "effect" of Michigan rotating on and off a Big Ten rival's conference slate since the practice began in 1993. By and large, a team plays WORSE when Michigan has been absent from their schedule. However, as you can see, Minnesota is one of the only teams that bucks the trend. If the winning percentage holds true, get ready for a 7-5 season and a loss to Nebraska in the Insight or Alamo Bowls.
EDIT: Breaking news (6:00am CST) - Syracuse has named former Duke antagonist Greg Paulus as their starting QB for the opener against Minnesota. He has apparently beaten out Ryan Nassib and Cam Dantley for the job. (credit buddylee853, who was on this last night as well).
There are two pretty obvious ways this will play out. One, Syracuse's returning QBs were so terrible that playing Paulus is a no-lose situation, but the Orange ultimately get no production and Paulus counts the lights in the Carrier Dome.
However, we support Minnesota, and we know what's likely to happen. Paulus throws for 400 yards and 5 TDs, and Syracuse springs the upset.
After all, if Syracuse is going to derive any benefit of surprise from Paulus, it's going to be in the first game, where Minnesota has no idea what kind of offense Coach Doug Marrone is going to run, and Minnesota has essentially no film on the Orange by which to game plan against their schemes. Now, without even Nassib or Dantley on the field, Syracuse will have at least the first two drives to try and spring surprises against the Gophers. It seems to me that Paulus would be used for his arm, as he threw for over 3,000 yards and 38 TDs in his senior year in high school, and he can throw to Mike Williams, who sat out 2008 after a 60-reception, 10-TD haul in 2007.
Even though Syracuse has had at least 15 players leave its program since Marrone was named coach, this is going to be a serious test for the Gophers, and especially, co-defensive coordinators Kevin Cosgrove and Ronnie Lee. They will have to exhibit an ability to recognize, diagnose and counteract Syracuse's method of attack by the end of the first quarter, or else, the Gophers will be in serious danger of losing. Nothing I've seen out of Cosgrove after 2004, or Lee at any point during his career, gives me confidence they can handle the job. I hope they prove me wrong and come home from New York with a 1-0 record. However, if they can't, it won't bode well for 2009.