There is nothing quite like the impenetrable optimism of the preseason. It's a fresh start for most teams, a chance to put the bitter memories of last season in the rear mirror and start anew. For the Gophers, the start of camp represents the first step towards rectifying the disappointment of a season mired with missed opportunities, which was due in large part to an injury bug that decimated the depth chart a year ago.
I won't go down the list of injuries, but it was... not good. *shudders*
The Gophers, now healthy, appear poised for a strong season under new head coach Tracy Claeys, at least in the eyes of most fans and certain members of the media.
Except, maybe, for that part about being healthy.
Claeys said RB Shannon Brooks has a foot injury, being evaluated, and will update the media on Saturday.— JoeChristensen (@JoeCStrib) August 9, 2016
It could be nothing. Or it could be a significant setback for last season's leading rusher (and the Gophers' chief home run threat in the running game). We won't know for sure until Saturday, but until then Gopher fans' imaginations will be running wild with worst case scenarios. On top of this, middle linebacker Cody Poock has been sidelined with a minor ankle injury, and left tackle Garrison Wright had the first of several scheduled off days as the staff evidently intends to be very careful with him.
Several of you reading this now are having flashbacks to the trauma of last season, as four words echo in your head: "Here we go again."
It's certainly discouraging that this is happening a week into preseason training camp, but injuries are a part of the game. It's unreasonable to expect that the Gophers would be completely immune, even after being subjected to the horrors of last season. So I've compiled a list of coping methods as we weather this storm and hope that the football gods are feeling more merciful than usual.
Stock up on bubble wrap
There will be five open practices over the next week, so if you are planning on attending, be sure to bring lots of bubble wrap. You can't force the players to wear it, but if they see plenty of it in the stands, they might be inclined to take advantage. You know, better safe than sorry, as mama always says.
Brush up on your dark arts
Defensive tackle Steven Richardson missed half of last season after pulling a calf muscle during practice, so don't try to convince me that there isn't a supernatural factor in play here. Hit the books and start finding how to counter curses and spells. If there is a local recluse rumored to be well versed in witchcraft or wizardry, you better be knocking on their door with a plate of delicious brownies.
Find the Holy Grail
If Indiana Jones can find it, so can you. It can't be that hard. Could you imagine the possibilities? A team field trip to drink from the Holy Grail would do wonders for this team and put an entire fan base at ease. Just as long as they choose wisely -- but with no millionaire Nazis on the roster, I like their chances.
Pray to the football gods
Let's be honest, the football gods have not been kind to the Gophers for a long time. Just last season, there was the debacle against Michigan that I refuse to talk about in any more detail. So consider this a measure of last resort, because your prayers might be falling on deaf ears. At the very least, ask that they leave Mitch Leidner's foot alone.
Now you know what to do while we wait for an update on Brooks and whatever other injuries the Gophers have in store this preseason.
Or you can start drinking heavily.
The choice is yours.