If your office is like mine, it’s a ghost town on this gorgeous July Friday in the Twin Cities. Everyone is out enjoying the last weekend of July before college football officially begins next week. So whether you are reading this from your office willing the hours away until you can start your weekend, or you are already up at the cabin sitting out on the dock with a beer, here are some nugs for you to enjoy.
As I said, fall camp officially begins on Wedmesday for the Minnesota Golden Gophers. We are just 34 days away from the Gophers opening the 2018 season under the lights against New Mexico State Aggies. If you haven’t read some of Blake Ruane’s work from Big Ten media days including interviews with Rodney Smith, Carter Coughlin, and Thomas Barber...why the hell not. Its some of the best football content we have had in a while. Check it out.
Also Gopher Nation has begun his Upgrade/Downgrade series previewing the players headed into fall camp. He has gotten most of the offense published so far with the defense yet to come.
The Gophers wrapped up their summer training this week before Fall Camp starts next week. It involved lots of work in the weight room, and some intense arm wrestling duels. I don’t think I would want to be a defensive lineman lines up across from Danial Faalele any time soon. Dude..
Gopher players continue to get named to 2018 watch lists for the various end of the season awards. On Thursday Rodney Smith added a nomination for the Paul Hornung Award which is given to the most versatile player in college football. He allready has been named to the watch list for the Doak Walker Award (best running back) and the Maxwell Award (best player in college football).
Meanwhile, Gopher kicker Emmit Carpenter has been named to two watchlists for very different reasons. On Wednesday Carpenter was named to the watch list for the Lou Groza award which goes to the best kicker in the country. Thursday Carpenter was named to the watch list of the Wuerffel Trophy. The Wuerffel Trophy goes to the best FBS player in college football that best combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement. It is known as “College Football’s Premier Award for Community Service”.
The Gophers will have their annual recruiting BBQ this Saturday along with their last day of summer camp for prospective recruits. Minnesota will bring in a couple of 2019 recruts they have their eye on, as well as some 2020 recruits who are starting to pick up offers from across the country.
One of those recruits who the Gophers hope may pull the trigger this weekend is 3-star wide receiver from Ohio Michael Brown-Stephens:
You can see some highlights of him tearing up a 7x7 tournament in Ohio here:L
7on7 Powerade Tournament pic.twitter.com/mrhXPlRuM2— Michael Brown-Stephens (@MikeBStephens7) July 25, 2018
NFL training camps are starting to ramp up as well, as several ex-Gophers will have a chance to win a job. Nate Atkins of mlive.com previews the Detroit Lions punting battle—which showcases former Gopher Ryan Santoso with a chance to steal the job away from a veteran punter.
Marcus Fuller of the Star Tribune gives us a couple of articles this week on the Gophers incoming freshmen for next season. In his first article he profiles Jarvis Omersa and Gabe Kalscheur and talks to Gopher coach Richard Pitino on what he hopes to get from his freshmen.
In his second article he talks about Daniel Oturu’s recovery from shoulder surgery. From all accounts he is ahead of pace to be cleared to practice with the team and should be 100% ready by the beginning of fall practice according to Pitino.
And yes, while it may have been a staged marketing picture, this photo from Oturu’s instagram page has got to make some Gopher fans salivating:
In case you want to have some fun, a week or so ago for World Emoji day (yes, this is actually a thing apparently), the Golden Dunkers which is the basketball version of the Goal Line Club posted this on their instagram page as well:
Gopher Women’s Basketball:
It has been nothing but good publicity for the Gopher women’s program since the hiring of Gopher legend Lindsay Whalen as their new head coach. Whalen gets another fawning article this week in Sports Illustrated written by Minnesota native Steve Rushin. In case you think Whalen isn’t golden at everything she touches, this excerpt from the article is my favorite:
Greve was on the golf team when he met Whalen in college, and he is now the two-time defending champion of the Minnesota Open. Two Septembers ago Greve was playing at Minneapolis Golf Club with a former Gophers teammate when Whalen—who hadn’t swung a club all summer—joined them. On the 322-yard, par-4 14th, she drove the green and buried a 20-foot eagle putt. (“Walking it in,” Greve says with a sigh.) On the next hole, a par-5, Whalen reached in two and two-putted for birdie. “You guys do this every weekend?” she said to her husband and his buddy. “It’s not that hard.”
Gophersports.com also takes a look at how the three current former Gophers in the WNBA are doing at this point in the season. Whalen is having a bit of a down season for her standards but still has started all 25 games this season for the Minnesota Lynx and leads the team with 3.3 assists per game.
Rachel Banham has played in all 26 games this year for the Connecticut Sun with five starts and is averaging 5.5 points, 1.7 assists, 1.1 rebounds and 0.5 steals per game. She leads the team at the free throw line, making 25 of 27 attempts, or 92.6 percent, which would rank second in the league if she had enough makes to qualify.
Amanda Zahui B is playing for the New York Liberty. She has played in all 25 games while averaging 7.0 points, 2.4 rebounds, 0.6 assists, and 0.4 steals and blocks per contest. She ranks second on the team by shooting 33 percent from 3-point range and is third on New York with a 48.3 shooting percentage from the floor.
As we said last week, the NCAA officially approved the new OT rules on Thursday, which with the exception of getting rid of the shootout in non-conference games is exactly the same.
However, as Randy Johnson of the Star Tribune points out, the Big Ten has said they may look at switching from the 5 minute 5x5 ot straight to the shootout to the 5x5 ot into the 3x3 ot and then shootout that the NCHC and WCHA men currently use. In fact, new Gopher coach Bob Motzko is definitely in favor of the switch having coached in the 3x3 ot system at St. Cloud State. He says the Big Ten coaches will “ have a conference call in the next couple of weeks to determine the format that will be used. “I don’t know the consensus of the coaches in our league, but we’ll get to the bottom of it and see where it goes,’’ Motzko said.
Guess we will see soon. Enjoy your weekend!