When that thing that happened on Saturday happens, there is a predictable (almost traditional) reaction in Minnesota. There is gnashing of teeth, prognostications of imminent doom, and then the columnists start writing a couple loads of "same old" filler that relies on the fears and painful memories of the fanbase to drive clicks and fill their comments with more "THE END IS NIGH!" type commenting.
You might be thinking that I'm about to explain why Saturday was actually not that bad. If you are thinking that then you would be very wrong. Saturday was icky. Yes, I'm 5 years old and I declared it to be icky. It had horrible Illinois cooties and now I have them. That said, we have Illinois cooties not Ebola and the season is not over. In any case, the reason the first paragraph was written is because I wanted to call out that this Nugz will not wallow in the sorrow pit and give our metro's cynical airbags the clicks they crave. If you want to ruin your life punching yourself in a sensitive area then you'll have to use your own bookmarks or the Google to get it done. I won't be assisting you.
Bourbon (and Beer?) Bye Week
Welcome to bye week. To help you through the A) pain of a bye week following...things...and B) the fact that bye weeks suck to begin with we here at TDG will be writing multiple posts (daily if possible) offering bourbon (and possibly beer) reviews and recommendations.
We STRONGLY encourage everyone who is part of this community to consider doing the same thing in the Fan Posts. I'd love to pull together a great collection of TDG recs for delicious beverages. You don't have to be great with describing flavors (i.e. don't worry if you can't write a review that says "has a delicious caramel flavor with a hint of nutmeg combined with the charred mahogany barrel it was aged in" or anything similar). Just share what it is, why you like, a picture if you've got one, where you can get it today (or where you've gotten it in the past), and an arbitrary grade on any scale you'd like (e.g. I give this bottle 7 gold doubloons out of 8.25 gold doubloons).
And with that, HAPPY BOURBON (& BEER?) BYE WEEK and on to the links!
You might have heard that Drew Wolitarsky has a high ankle sprain caused by an especially strong dose of Illinois cooties. This is not a good outcome for Minnesota, as a thin WR core might result in the coaches having to pull a redshirt if the depth drops further (per Joe C):
Wolitarsky had just hauled in a 35-yard pass from Mitch Leidner when his right ankle rolled under the Illinois defender. Wolitarsky limped to the sideline and was unable to put any weight on the ankle. The sophomore has 10 catches for 106 yards this season.
On his Sunday radio show on 830-AM, coach Jerry Kill said Wolitarsky's injury is "not good."
Later, Kill told the team's beat writers, "We’ve got four or five [receivers] who can play, but do you pull a redshirt off? Because if one more goes down -- you know, you’ve got five games left. That’s the whole bad thing about all that. So we’ve got a lot of work to do this week, got a lot of healing to do and a lot of work to do."
The Gophers had true freshman Jerry Gibson on their 70-man travel squad to Illinois. He has yet to play this year, but that's one redshirt that could be pulled. He can play tight end, but the Gophers had him ready to play receiver at Illinois.
Also not cool?
* RT Ben Lauer re-aggravated his ankle injury.
* Kill said RT Jonah Pirsig, TE Maxx Williams and TE Drew Goodger all threw up on the sideline during the game. RB Berkley Edwards had thrown up on Friday night.
COOTIES COOTIES COOTIES. Damn you Illinois.
The Gophers held their maroon on gold scrimmage this past weekend and Amelia had some thoughts. Picking out a couple of the most notable or enjoyable:
Nate Mason is going to see playing time, and a lot of it. The freshman looked like the real deal on Sunday night, connecting on five of eight three-point attempts and leading the Gold team with 17 points. But perhaps even more impressive than his clear scoring ability? His poise. He played great defense on DeAndre Mathieu throughout, and exuded the kind of steady presence that doesn't often come packaged in a freshman. Gophers fans, I think you'll get to know him well.
I like this. More of this.
Turnovers? Yeah, that's still a problem. So some things haven't changed. The Gophers squads had 15 slip-ups each, for a grand total of 30, with Mathieu (7), being the biggest offender. "That's been an issue," Pitino said. "We've tried to correct it as much as possible. We want them playing aggressive, we want them playing fast, we're really trying to stay away from running as many sets as we did last year, so maybe that's a little growing pains from that. We'll fix it."
BOO THIS. Less of this.
Bakary Konate isn't quite as raw as you thought he was. We saw the freshman at center and at power forward -- which is still a bit of an experiment -- and witnessed some good post moves and a strong defensive presence (despite fouling five times). The biggest trick for Konate now, is learning the nuances of the college game, including not being quite so anxious to score each time he gets the ball. But there is plenty of potential there.
Pre-season optimism is optimistic.
Daquein McNeil looked as offensively aggressive as ever. Now a sophomore, the Maryland guard looked a world away from his 2013-14 campaign. He finished with a game-high 20 points while looking more confident than he did through all of last season. He covered Andre Hollins like a blanket. At one point he huddled his teammates and called a play for himself. "He would have never done that last year" Pitino said.
Did I mention pre-season optimism?
These newcomers are exciting. Not since I've been on this beat has an incoming class been so intriguing. Carlos Morris started the firestorm. Nate Mason looked like a legitimate star. Bakary Konate showed enough promise for Gophers fans to dream about. Zach Lofton, though redshirting, flashed his pro potential. Josh Martin nearly jumped through the rafters. It could be a fun year to watch.
WHERE IS MY KOOL-AID?
One of the things I enjoy most about watching hockey at Mariucci is that moment when I'm riding the escalator up from the Oak Street entrance and I just soak in the All-American mural. I never tire of that moment. Hopefully Mike Reilly never does either, as he's got more to enjoy than most of us now that his part of Gopher history was unveiled on the mural this past weekend:
However the moment that will stand in Gophers hockey history took place during a TV timeout early in the second period.
Reilly was sitting on a far end of the bench when the game was paused to welcome him into elite company as the program’s 33rd first team All-America. He lifted his head to watch his own highlight reel on the jumbotron and then soaked in an ovation that followed the unveiling of his portrait on the large All-America mural in the northeast corner of the arena.
Senior alternate captain Ben Marshall skated to Reilly’s end of the bench and celebrated the moment by tapping his helmet. The song "Be like Mike" echoed through the ears of 9,849 fans for about a minute and then the attention turned back to the game.
"It’s a tremendous honor to be a first team All-American and be on the mural. I’m sure 20 years from now when he’s back in Mariucci Arena it’ll mean even more when he’s with his own family," Gophers coach Don Lucia said. "Obviously Mike is a go-to player. He’s improved tremendously every year he’s been here."
Jason Gonzalez also has a nice multimedia round up complete with videos and pictures like this one:
TCU scored so many points on Saturday that they used up their SEASON SUPPLY of fireworks. No I am not kidding:
How prolific is @TCUFootball's offense this year? In yesterday's 82-27 romp over Tech, we shot all the pyro we ordered...for the season.— Drew Martin (@TCU_Drew) October 26, 2014
@AlexAppleDFW My guy radioed me after we hit 68 and said "I only have enough for one more touchdown this season." Then we scored two.— Drew Martin (@TCU_Drew) October 26, 2014
The Big Ten really has issues with its football officials sucking very, very badly: