Happy hump day! Or, if you're me at my workplace- Happy Omelet Wednesday! Love Omelet Wednesday. This week I thought I'd be glad to have Wedneday Nugz, since the media and interwebs would have moved onto this Saturday's game against Michigan. Turns out not quite yet. Join me, if you dare, to look further at the debacle/embarrassment/sh*tshow that was last Saturday's loss to Iowa.
Joe C has a few notes from Tuesday's presser with Kill, including injury updates that Brock Vereen and Derrick Wells are both probable for Saturday, while Mike Henry, who didn't play at all last week, remains questionable. While there was so much blame to go around for last Saturday's embarrassment, one thing that has been overlooked (certainly by me, at least) was Henry's absence. From Coach Kill:
"We had to move people around because of (Henry's) injury. I probably should have played Gabe Mezzenga [at fullback] much more and left Maxx alone. We moved [Drew] Goodger, and we had a lot of moving parts we probably shouldn't have had. And you learn; we should have handled it a little bit differently. "I think it hurt us. I think it hurt our execution that we had two or three guys out of position. Not good on our part."
Matt's post from Monday asked the tough question of why Minnesota's offense never even tried to establish the power run game, and perhaps not having Henry played a part. He's the only true fullback on the roster, and as Kill explained, it pushed some other guys into spots they weren't used to. Now, we can definitely make the point here that the "next man up" mantra Kill and Co continually push should apply to your fullback too, but it shows the importance of the senior Henry to this offense and, perhaps, to their ability to run their power formations which are vital to their success.
"I can't be taking sacks, especially when we're getting closer to the redzone, maybe in the field goal range. That's definitely something Coach Kill said to me, 'You've got to learn from that' ... That was definitely a valuable lesson I learned Saturday."
Sandell also says the Gophers are trying to put the Iowa loss in the rearview mirror. I did that before the start of the fourth quarter.
Tyler Mason of FSN opens his Gopher mailbag for this week. This may surprise you, but none of the questions are positive. One guy even asked about Jim Tressel's availability. Hey, thanks for writing!
M Go Blog looks at four key plays that could affect Saturday's battle for the Little Brown Jug. For Michigan's offense they could have just listed "run play" as the key to beating Minnesota, since judging from last week's Gopher "effort" all of them should work. For when Minnesota has the ball, one play is a midline read-option, a play Nelson didn't keep himself much at all. Part of it was Iowa played that play well and forced the handoff, but part of it too might be that Nelson just wasn't 100%. They also diagram a pass play which is funny because who worries about Minnesota's passing game?
Gopher Hockey has an exhibition game this Saturday with Lethbridge, then officially begins next weekend at home with the "Ice Breaker" series (We'll have Gopher Hockey preview stuff starting today or tomorrow, depending upon how Job A goes for me). USCHO has been running "10 players to watch at each position" and two Gophers have been mentioned: co-captain Kyle Rau is one of 10 forwards, and there'll be some pressure on him to carry the scoring load with Erik Haula and Nick Bjugstad gone. I'm very, very interested to see how the lines shake out, but I think we safely assume one thing that won't change is Kyle Rau on the top line. His linemates? We'll have to wait and see. Goalie Adam Wilcox is mentioned for the defensemen- kidding, he's obviously one of 10 goalies to watch in college hockey this year. Wilcox was one of the country's best last season, and he'll need to be again with a much younger team in front of him. Rau was also named to the Pre-Season All-CHN Second Team.
In a shocking upset, Minnesota State is CHN's pick to win the WCHA. How can they not pick the Gophers?!? Oh, that's right...(Shakes head...Curses Terry Pegula and Jim Delany...sobs...)
In a shock to zero people, Gopher Women's Hockey begins the season as the unanimous #1 team in the country. An undefeated season will do that for you.
Finally, I was going to throw in a few basketball links, but then remembered GN doesn't read anything anyone else writes, so I'll skip it. Somebody who cares about Gopher Hoops should give you tons of links later in the week.