Sometimes being a Gopher football fan is tough. Other times, it sucks. Someday, I feel like all of this is going to pay off, or maybe that's just the sliver of hope I'm clinging to right now. Saturday's loss and events in Ann Arbor weren't the worse possible way for things to go, but it's hard to imagine them going much worse. The team got blown out, their coach missed another game due to a seizure, and we may have a QB controversy on our hands. This is not where any of us wanted or saw the program being six games into Year 3 of the Kill Era, and yet here we are.
Before we get to the Nugz, just a reminder that while we may disagree with each other on what this all means and what direction we believe this program is going, remember we're all Gopher fans and we all want to see the program succeed. Unless you're a total jackhole, I'm assuming at the heart of every comment the past few days is the desire to see this program succeed. I'm not going to tell you what is the right or wrong way to react here, I'm just going to remind everyone to respect each other's opinions and don't let it get personal. One of the many things I love about this blog is that we've shown the ability to have discussions and disagreements and not let it get ugly.
This is an excellent community that I love being apart of, especially now when times are tough, or, um, tougher than usual. There's two weeks until the next game, which is good to get people rested (we apparently wouldn't have a secondary if they had to play this weekend) but when things are this down, it also gives us far too much time to worry. So keep it civil, and know that if I could electronically give you a bottle of bourbon or beer right through your monitor to you I would. If only they let us drink here at work...
Obvious news is obvious, but Kill's absence in the loss to Michigan is the big story of the weekend. The head coach is expected back to work soon, but in the meantime it's DC Tracy Claeys who has been answering questions and talking to the media:
“He loves the University of Minnesota, he loves the state, and our football team,” Gophers defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys said Sunday. “As long as he feels he can keep that moving in the same direction, he’ll keep battling.”
We should note here that Claeys and others close to the team have said this latest seizure is the result a change in Kill's medication as they try and regulate and gain better control of his epilepsy. One would hope that's all this was and he won't have any more incidents the rest of the season, but missing six quarters of the first six games due to his condition is certainly troubling.
Nate Sandell of 1500E!SPN talks to both coordinators, who are confident Kill will stay with the Gophers. Derek Whetmore also of 1500 says The U needs to discuss how Kill's heath is affecting himself and the program moving forward. His last paragraph sums up his feelings:
We can simultaneously accept these two truths: people with epilepsy need not be defined by the condition; and that Kill may not be capable of successfully running the program if his condition persists and his doctors cannot better control his gameday seizures.
In the interest of fairness, Jim Souhan of the Strib, who got rightly blasted for an ignorant and ridiculous column after Kill's first seizure this season, wrote a pretty good column yesterday. It's the one he SHOULD have written a few weeks ago.
We now turn our attention to the team, and it inevitably turns to #QBGAZE13. Shockingly, Marcus Fuller of the PP has his QB Controversy meter turned up to 11, saying the coaches hoped Leidner would spark the offense but, in his words, didn't, and also quotes Leidner as saying I don't really know what's going to happen...They haven't told me anything." Sandell, on the other hand, believes Leidner's play against Michigan justified the coaches making the QB switch. While Fuller's story claims that Nelson didn't start because he reaggrivated a hamstring injury, Sandell seems to think it was just a move to give Leidner another shot, and perhaps admit not playing him against Iowa was a mistake:
By going with Leidner on Saturday, not only did it concede, to a degree, that not putting him in for at least one or two series against Iowa was a mistake, but it also gave the redshirt freshman another audition to earn the starting spot outright.
Personally, Leidner has done enough, both against Michigan and in five games this season, to have earned the start over Nelson. Not that either of them have been lights out, but Leidner has a better passer rating, completion %, and more rushing yards and a better rush average than Nelson. There's also the eye test, which I know isn't scientific, but thus far Leidner has passed it, Nelson has not. I'm sure we haven't heard the last of this, and we'll hear about both of them starting right up until kickoff next week against Northwestern.
If there was a silver lining Saturday, it was the play of Maxx Williams. The redshirt freshman proved to be a true receiving threat in the B1G, and he better be a focal part of the offense going forward. Now if we can just get anyone else involved in the passing game, we might actually have a passing game.
Gopher hockey survived a very physical exhibition game Satruday against Lethbridge with a 5-1 win. Hudson Fasching, Ben Marshall and Travis Boyd had two points apiece, and got goals from Fasching, Boyd, Michael Brodzinski, Taylor Cammarata and Ryan Reilly. All three Minnesota goalies got playing time in the win, but the real story was how physical, and frankly dirty, the Canadian University squad was. Canadian college teams are usually chalk full of former Canadian juniors players who weren't good enough to go pro either in North America or Europe, and apparently they felt like turning the game into a real-life version of Slap Shot. No truth to the rumors Lethbridge, or the Reilly Brothers for Minnesota, were seen "puttin' on the foil" but there were 74 MINUTES IN PENALTIES and four players- two from each side- were eventually booted for rough play. The Gophers face a non-goon squad of real hockey players for their official season opener this Friday against something called Mercyhurst (who, per Nathan Wells of SB Nation, could actually be pretty good, as they're the preseason pick to win Atlantic Hockey) in the Icebreaker Tournament at Mariucci.