To bench or not to bench... THAT is the question
Whether tis nobler on the field to suffer
The sacks and throw-aways of outrageous fortune
Or to throw with your arm into a sea of troubles
And by opposing them, end them?
Ouch, that hurt my head.
HOLY CRIPES, the blogosphere has been abuzz today with Adam Weber talk... play him, bench him, lynch him, buy him a Coke.
It all started with this...
The Daily Gopher's "A desperate plea for Gopher fans to take a reasoned approach to the QB situation."
"The notion that Adam Weber is terrible or unwatchable or that another QB on the roster gives us a better chance to win is 100% wrong. Adam Weber has been guilty of being horribly inconsistent, but the accusations and charges that he is unwatchable or has no business in a Gopher uniform are unfair and misguided."
It is a very well thought out post, and brings up some good points. I encourage you to read it.
This was followed up by Gopher Football Blog's "Why Adam Weber should not be the starting quarterback by default."
"I love The Daily Gopher blog. Love it. Read it everyday, and link to it often. The guys on there are very intelligent, write well, are as passionate about the Gophers as any fans you will ever meet, and they have probably forgotten more about Gopher sports than I'll ever know. This is especially true about one of their founders, and head writer, Gopher Nation. GN is a quality human being, loves the Gophers, and only wants to see the football program succeed. But a post he wrote today over on TDG about Adam Weber makes me so incredibly frustrated, I can hardly stand it. In fact, I'm going to write a point/counterpoint style post about it because I just cannot believe someone as smart and passionate as him believes what he wrote about Adam Weber. I just can't."
A well thought out post, countering some of TDG's points. I encourage you to read it as well.
Both of these fine men, who I happen to know personally, are passionate Gopher fans, and because I would like to remain friends with both of them, I am going to toe the company line: I agree with both of them...
... to a point.
Graham also gave his two cents on why Weber should be benched...
...which was followed by Weber throwing for 416 yards and 5 TD's against MSU.
Hey Graham, do you think you could call for Weber's benching again before the Iowa game?
This has been a very hot topic lately in Gopher Nation, or Gopherland, or Gold Country... whatever we are calling it this week. So I'm going to attempt to find a happy place, somewhere squarely in the middle... you know, like Switzerland.
Has Adam Weber played poorly enough to be benched?
The easy answer is yes. As I pointed out yesterday over at Gopher Football Blog, Adam Weber...
...has thrown more TD passes than INT's only twice this season, (NW, MSU)...
...has thrown more INT's than TD's four times (Cal, Purdue, PSU, OSU)...
...has had two games where he threw as many INT's as TD's (Syracuse, Wisky)...
...and has thrown more INT's than TD's for the year (13 INT's, 12 TD's)?
Unfortunately the easy answer isn't always the right answer. (Just ask the four law students who write around here.) If you want to answer the question of whether or not he's played poorly enough to be benched and then move on, then the answer is yes, he has... now enjoy your perogies.
But the more in-depth answer is... well, kinda. Adam Weber has the ability to put up 400 yards and 5 TD's in a game. We know this because he did that exact thing against Michigan State. Weber was given time, he showed poise, and he found open receivers. He put up a MONSTER game. No doubt. The problem is that Weber usually isn't given time, he usually doesn't show poise, and he quite often has trouble finding open receivers.
He certainly has the ability to be the starting QB of the Minnesota Gophers... but the circumstances surrounding him may not make him the best option.
Has MarQueis Gray played well enough to be named the starter?
No chance, no way, no how. If Weber has played poorly enough to get benched is one issue, and if it is the case, then Gray is your starter to be sure. But based on the merits of his in-game performance so far, MarQueis has not earned the job.
And this might be the bigger issue. You don't just bench a 3 year starter for a freshman QB in the Big Ten unless you have seen flashes of absolute greatness from that freshman. We have seen some very good things from MarQueis in streaks, but we haven't seen greatness.
Looking at resumes alone, Weber has to be your starter. Now, again, that's the easy answer. Is it the right one? In this case... well, kinda.
How does it feel to sit on a fence?
Not bad actually, thank you for asking. I told you... Switzerland.
So far I've said Adam Weber hasn't quite played poorly enough to be benched, and MarQueis Gray hasn't quite played well enough to earn the job, and as you can probably tell, I struggle with this. The question is always going
to come down to this:
Which QB gives your squad the best chance to win?
Unfortunately for Minnesota the answer might be nobody. So maybe the better question is: which QB gives your squad the best chance of not completely blowing the game for them?
And here is the most Swiss answer possible: BOTH.
Look, you can't completely bench Adam Weber (and by the way, I know that Jeff at Gopher Football Blog wasn't advocating a complete benching), and you can't just hand the ball the MarQueis if he hasn't earned it. We don't know what has gone on in practice, granted. But what we do know is that MarQueis Gray has provided a nice change of pace for the Gopher offense at times... but in my opinion that change of pace has not been used often enough, or in the right way.
With Adam Weber when it rains, it pours. His mistakes tend to get compounded by more mistakes. The dude is fragile, and when he gets down he has trouble pulling himself out. This is when it would be nice to have a back-up with some game experience. But with two games left in the season, Brewster hasn't given Gray that kind of experience... I have a huge problem with this, but I digress.
What needs to happen is that Adam Weber should be the starter, but MarQueis Gray should be given the opportunity to run the offense every 2nd or 3rd series, FOR THE ENTIRE SERIES. Let him make his own bed, and make him lie in it. No more of this Weber throws incomplete on first down, Gray comes in and runs a draw on second down, and Weber is left with 3rd and long... that isn't working.
By taking this approach you do two VERY important things:
1. You take some of the pressure off of an Adam Weber who already feels the weight of the world on his shoulders after losing Eric Decker. You give him an opportunity to step back and watch the offense happen, without having to be a part of it. He sees the game from a completely different perspective and, hopefully, things begin to click.
2. You give Gray the opportunity to prove whether or not he's ready or getting ready. You give him the chance to get used to the speed of the game, to read defenses, and to understand more than the 5 or 6 plays that he's been a part of so far this season. Additionally, you are building for the future by doing this.
So yes, I'd like to have my cake, and yes, I would also like to eat it. But let's be honest, if you had cake, why would you NOT want to eat it?