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Minnesota Football: No Backup Plan for Brewster and Horton

In this morning's Daily Nugz, GN linked to a Phil Miller story in the Strib with Jeff Horton about why Adam Weber is still his guy. Touching story, really. Horton gives many, many reasons why it makes no sense to pull Adam Weber at this point of a 1-8 season with NOTHING to play for. On the second page of the article, Miller lists five reasons Horton says he won't play Marqueis. Reasons 1,2, and 5 are the usual coach-speak, BS excuses for why it makes sense to continue playing a fifth year senior instead of a promising sophomore in a lost season:

1) It's not Weber's fault. The senior quarterback has thrown 17 touchdown passes and only eight interceptions. The passing game ranks seventh in the Big Ten.

"Like everybody else, Adam could play better," Horton said. "But I don't think anybody competes any harder. You could put Brett Favre in a tough situation, and he's going to struggle."

2) If Gray throws passes, who catches them? The Gophers are thin at receiver behind Gray and Da'Jon McKnight, particularly with Troy Stoudermire having switched to cornerback. Horton said he plans to recommend to the next coach that the Gophers recruit a couple of junior college receivers to beef up the depth.

5) The coaches are trying to win in 2010, not 2011. Horton said he's sensitive to the argument that playing Gray now might benefit him next season. But he hasn't given up on winning again this season.

Seriously, those are just lame (well other than point #1. It isn't Weber's fault. That is the only thing I'll agree with Horton on). I suppose I can see why some people would buy these as legitimate reasons as to why Gray hasn't seen the field at quarterback, even in blowouts, but I don't buy it.

But not to worry, because it gets better. Horton's other two reasons for NOT playing MarQueis is not only indefensible, it's an indictment of both him and Tim Brewster, and why neither will ever be a collegiate head coach or offensive coordinator again.

3) Gray hasn't practiced at the position. Horton estimated that Gray normally takes less than 10 percent of the snaps in practice, because his time is spent with the receivers.

4) The change is bigger than one position. Gray wouldn't thrive in an offense designed for Weber, Horton said; playing Gray at the position makes no sense unless the offense is retooled to suit his running ability. (The coaches already had planned to install the "Pistol" offense, with Gray taking snaps two steps behind center and reacting to the defense to make plays, this spring.) But asking the backs, receivers and linemen to learn a new offense with only three games to play is a lot to ask, Horton said.

I didn't notice either of these at first for being anything other than what his other three reasons were: just more coach-speak BS. But then I really thought about it: wait a you're telling me that despite having no major injuries at receiver, having FOUR recruiting classes under your belt of YOUR players, having plenty of depth to begin the season with Troy Stoudermire and Mr. JUCO All-Universe team Hayo Carpenter to backup the three guys who are already playing, you're STILL going to complain about depth?

That, combined with his next point, shows that what Horton is saying is that the Minnesota Golden Gopher offense is completely and totally reliant on the health of Adam Weber to function. If he gets hurt, there is NOBODY available to run it. No one. You're a D1, Big Ten, BCS conference school who has FAILED TO DEVELOP A BACKUP QUARTERBACK. I realize in a 1-8 season this might not mean a big deal, but think about this: what if- and I realize it's an IF the size of Starr Jones if she had eaten Rueben Studdards- this coaching staff had actually been able to, you know, coach? What if they actually had this team playing up to its true talent level? What if this team had beaten South Dakota, Northern Illinois, Northwestern, and Purdue and were sitting here with five wins, and with just one more in their remaining three games, could be bowl eligible? Then what if Adam Weber gets hurt? Suddenly, any bowl chances we had are gone because this coaching staff could not, and would not, develop a backup QB.

At any other school, this would be inexcusable. Seriously, what if Terrelle Pryor got hurt at OSU? Would Jim Tressell say "sorry OSU fans, we just don't have a backup QB who can run this system. Our 'supposed' backup has been practicing all season at WR. Sorry." Yep, that would go over well with Buckeye fans, wouldn't it? Yeah not so much. Tressell, or whomever was responsible for this, would be canned, and would be lucky to find a job in college football again. At Minnesota? Hey no big deal. We're not very good and we're not going anywhere this season anyway, so who cares if Horton has completely and totally failed to do one of his main jobs (well besides win), which is to develop a viable backup at the most important position in football?

It shows just how overmatched Brewster and Horton are for major college football, and it's amazing either one had a job here in the first place. Remember, despite ties to Mack Brown, Brewster was never even a coordinator before Joel Maturi thought it'd be a swell idea to make him a head coach. And since being fired as the head coach at UNLV in 1998, nobody thought enough of Horton to even give him an offensive coordinator position, let alone another shot as a head coach. That is until Tim Brewster needed to hire yet another coordinator.

Like GN said this morning, I really don't care about the 2010 season any longer, and really, how can I? It's clear the interim coach is as clueless as the head coach, and that there's nothing to be gained from the last three games except more one-sided losses. If fans are looking for someone to blame right now, don't blame Weber and don't blame MarQueis, because they're just doing what they're told. Also don't blame new interim OC Thomas Hammock because he was the running backs coach before he started calling plays (and I'd still rather have him calling plays than Horton. Oh and Hammock is also the staff's best recruiter). The man you can point a finger at is Jeff Horton, and Tim Brewster, and Joel Maturi, for putting this program, and us fans, in such an insufferable position.

There's hope for 2011 with a new head coach and to see what he can bring to this program with these players. But after reading this article on Horton's BS, coach-speak reasons that he hasn't been able to develop a suitable backup QB, it's clear all hope, and this season, is lost.