FanPost

Hoegher's 2013 Previews: MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS

So ideally: this part of my FanPost would be taken up by something relevant to the previewed Big Ten team. Unfortunately, I was schooled as an engineer, and writing/communicative skills don't come to me as easily as they should (I try, though!). So instead, I'll offer a recent anecdote from my life with the whispers of relevancy to Minnesota football.

I ran a half-marathon this past weekend. Only my second, and much slower than the first one that I ran (hoegher had a bit of a rough patch over the last two years and tried to cure it with pizza and beer), but I was happy with my time all considering. Anyway, I ran the Green Bay Half-Marathon, which finishes inside Lambeau Field (GAG). In fact, the evening before the race, a pasta dinner was held for the participating runners (carbo-load!) inside the Lambeau Field Concourse. I went, of course, and stuffed my face with under-cooked rotini.

As I was sitting and eating my energy for the next day, I noticed a single person in the concourse. A young lad, middle-school in age (I guess). He was wearing an Adrian Peterson jersey, which was pretty much the most awesome thing ever. Also, hopefully foretelling future events that will occur in the fall :)

THE PAST

NOTE: all historical data is taken from James Howell's excellent resource and/or Sports-Reference (college football edition)

Minnesota Overall Ratings

Minnesota Adj Off/Def

Minnesota Win Pct/Luck

Winning percentage and "Luck" are plotted on a win-pct basis (mind-blowing, I know). Adj Off/Def/Eff/Marg and Resume rankings are plotted on a percentile-ranking basis. Thus, a team rating out in the 99th percentile would be awesome, a team rating out in the 1st percentile would be not-so-awesome.

Minnesota football history can essentially be broken down into two parts:

1) With Bernie Bierman

2) Not Bernie Bierman

His five national titles between 1934 and 1941 probably demonstrates this enough on their own, but there is quite simply no equal to Bierman in Minneapolis. Earlier than these rankings go, it seems that Henry Williams had a decent run in the early 20th century (three undefeated seasons in five years), but trust me when I say that football of that era really can't offer a good comparison. We'll throw Murray Warmath a bone because his early 1960's teams were pretty darn good, even if that 1960 AP title was completely un-earned (as their Rose Bowl loss to Washington showed).

Other than that fortuitous run, though, Warmath (and pretty much every other Gopher coach) was decidedly average. Is it a coincidence that the decline of Minnesota football occurred almost exactly when the Vikings were established as an NFL franchise? Maybe! Okay, probably not. I can say that I didn't give a crap about the maroon-and-gold clad team that played in the Metrodome when I was growing up in the Great White North. That meant that I missed great moments like this one, but such is life.

By the by, Glen Mason came out looking a lot stronger here than I anticipated. For someone who apparently gave up after he didn't get the Ohio State job, a 10-3 Sun Bowl winning season in 2003 (and 12th in the all-important Hoegher rankings) isn't too bad of a phone-in. That's also the only season that Mason managed to post a positive "luck" rating (EDIT: Guess I read my own graph incorrectly. Glen Mason posted positive "luck" rating in 2002). I don't tend to put a lot of stock into that as a mark of a coach's aptitude, but I can see why Minnesota fans were okay to be rid of him.

Of course, the most important part of Minnesota's history is illustrated in this chart:

IT IS INEVITABLE. SUBMIT TO YOUR FATE MINNESOTA FANS.

THE FUTURE

CFBStats.com and FBSchedules.com are used for reference here. I highly recommend both sites.

Projected Rating: -0.131 (78th)

Conf Proj Rec Conf Rec Adj Off rk Adj Def rk Adj Eff rk Adj Marg rk
B10 5-7 2-6 0.822 92 0.945 58 0.465 80 -0.123 78

Schedule SOS rk Conf SOS rk n-con SOS rk
Rating/Rk -0.003 56 0.306 29 -0.620 121

Week 1 (H) Week 2 (V) Week 3 (H) Week 4 (H) Week 5 (H) Week 6 (V) Week 7 Week 8 (V)
114 - UNLV 81% 123 - NMState 95% 124 - FCS 98% 69 - SJState 41% 51 - Iowegia 26% 27 - FuMich 14% 0 - BYE 0% 37 - justNW 19%
Week 9 (H) Week 10 (V) Week 11 (H) Week 12 Week 13 (H) Week 14 (V) Week 15 Week 16
18 - CORN 8% 90 - Indy 57% 19 - PennSt 8% 0 - BYE 0% 22 - Wiscy 10%s 30 - Sparty 16% 0 - BYE 0% 0 - BYE 0%

The number next to each opponent represents the projected ranking for that team. The percentages represent projected likelihood of winning a particular game, helpfully color-coded for your benefit (no regard for home/away, though that status is noted). The team names have been adjusted to better fit your screen, I hope they are obvious enough. You are free to ignore everything and tell me why I'm wrong, you're probably right.

Minnesota 2013 Profile

This is an attempt to quickly illustrate a team's outlook for the coming season. These aren't unique (my personal experience was a Pokemon Yellow Guide from my youth): maxing out the pentagon is better. Winning percentage should be obvious, but other than that: the numbers here represent percentile rankings. 99th percentile is good, 1st percentile is less so.

Okay, first I want to comment on something that has been a topic of discussion since Kill came on campus: the schedule. While it was pretty cool that Brewster made a point to beef up the schedule, and thus we got to see home-and-home games like Syracuse-Minnesota, California-Minnesota, USC-Minnesota, that really did the Gopher no favors. I think they won both of the Syracuse games, but they went 0-4 0-3 (EDIT: I thought Cal was a home-and-home, it seems I'm wrong) against California and USC (though they came so agonizingly close in 2011).

If you're a team like Ohio State, Alabama, USC, etc.: go out and challenge yourself. Those teams are aiming for national championships and major bowls, they should go out and play a tough schedule to prove their worth. If your team is on the level of Minnesota? The goal for the season is to qualify for a bowl. There is no reason to make it harder on yourself in that regard when qualifying for a bowl isn't a sure thing. I've got Minnesota at ~25% chance to make a bowl game this season. Playing New Mexico State (by the by: on the road? WTF Gophers) isn't as glamorous as playing USC, but if it means that you get a December (or January, since the Big Ten is packed with them!) football game, I think that's an easy decision to make.

Now, if you're actually good and continue to schedule bad teams (COUGH WISCONSIN COUGH), then there's a problem. Glen Mason obviously falls in this category. Until then: I stand with Kill.

OFFENSE: Marqueis Gray is gone! That gets a decided "meh" from me. I know that he's delighted Minnesota fans at times (especially with the multiple upsets of Iowa), but I've never really been sold on Gray as a QB. His 2012 stats (8.3 yds/att, 5/2 TD/INT) look much better than my narrative sells, but I'm unwilling to give too much credit there, as the vast majority of that came in the first two games against UNLV and New Hampshire (I know injury kept him on the sideline, but still).

I may need a refresher, Gopher fans, because I'm still trying to understand why Max Shortell was given the... short end of the stick (BA-DUM-TISH). His 2012 aggregate stats (7.4 yds/att, 56% comp, 6/5 TD/INT) weren't awful, and I obviousl remember his near-closure at USC. Was it just the Iowa game (3 interceptions isn't great, obviously)? Either which way, Shortell has transferred so he doesn't factor in anymore.

That leaves Philip Nelson (5.7 yds/att, 48% comp, 8/8 TD/INT), which... WOOF. I know his nickname is Mankato Jesus and all, but that's not good (FULL DISCLOSURE: yds/att is the main factor I look at for evaluating QB's). On a brighter outlook, The Daily Gopher seemed to like his spring game performance in their way-too-optimistic recap, and he played pretty darn well against Texas Tech in the bowl game (their defense was over-rated, but it's still a solid performance in a bowl game). Chris Streveler (3-star) is the only 2013 recruit that I can see for quarterback, but I think this is Nelson's job to lose. Yes, I'm clearly offering deep insight here.

The Daily Gopher is all a-flushed about new recruit Berkley Edwards (RB, 3-star) which would make sense as two of the top four rushers from 2012 were quarterbacks. Donnell Krikwood (4.2 yds/att) and Rodrick Williams (4.5 yds/att) return, and they seemed to do okay in the spring game (though Edwards is supposed to offer more of a speed asset). Okay... I'm actually a little embarrassed because I've spent about three lines on the Minnesota running backs so far, and I don't have much to say. Edwards is the only recruit that I can see (unless you count the athletes, which I'm not) and I can honestly say I've never been terrified of a Minnesota running back since I've paid attention to college football. Maroney and Barber are long gone, but Kill's philosophy should start to change that.

A.J. Barker is gone (577 yds, 19.2 yds/rec), and as the leading receiver from 2012, that's a bit of a blow. Fortunately, the Gophers look to have a lot of depth, as they only lose Barker, John Rabe (TE, 10.2 yds/rec), Gray (multi-back, 10.1 yds/rec), and Brandon Green (WR, 6 rec, 11.7 yds/rec) from their top-10 2012 receivers (by yardage). So pretty much the opposite of last year's Michigan State (and this year's Purdue, holy heck did their receivers suck last year) Drew Goodger (TE, 8.9 yds/rec) should step into the TE role next season, and Eric Carter (WR, 3-star) looks to contribute right away. With the state of the running backs in Minnesota, I'm expecting some BOMBS-AWAY tactics during the season (NOTE: I am no expert and may be wrong). Get your arm on Nelson, but be sure to still pull plenty of interceptions come Badgers.

DEFENSE: Things I learned today: RaSheed Hageman is a beast. So much so, that Bruce Feldman put him on his 2013 "freaks" list. As the top-returning TFL's leader, I'd say he's earned it. And though the leader for TFL's D.L. Wilhite graduates, the defensive line looks pretty solid otherwise with Roland Johnson (SR), Michael Amaefula (JR), Scott Ekpe (SO), and Alex Keith (SO) all coming back. With that depth, Owen Salzwedel (DE, 3-star) looks to be the only recruit that might see time, though Demaris Peppers (DT, 3-star) might sneak in there.

The issue for the Gopher's defense seems to be at linebacker, mostly. Of the top-5 linebackers (by tackles), Minnesota loses 3: Mike Rallis, Keanon Cooper, and Spencer Reeves. To his credit, Kill has recruited several linebacker prospects for 2013 with De'Vondre Campbell (3-star), Rayfield Dixon (3-star), Damien Wilson (3-star). I'm having a difficult time finding spring evaluations for the linebackers, but I suppose that makes a bit of sense with the losses they had this past year.

The final part of this "hoegher tries to act knowledgeable about defense" is the defensive backs. Since I'm tired, I'll just note the facts. Troy Stoudermire and Michael Carter are gone. Even though Minnesota lost out on 2013 recruits Nate Andrews (to Florida State), their top recruit is still a cornerback (Jalen Myrick (3-star)). He's going to play.

HOEGHER'S BIASED PREDICTION

6-6. I'm going to give you 4-0 in the non-conference Gophers. San Jose State was prety good last year, and they return a solid QB. However, they lose their coach to Colorado, and the game is at home for y'all. New Mexico State is on the road, but if you manage to lose to New Mexico State (again) you should go sit in a corner for the rest of the season.

Within the conference, I'm going to chalk up Michigan, Northwestern, Nebraska, Wisconsin, and Michigan State as losses. Wisconsin is at TCF, but (tr)uck you and go Bucky. That leaves Iowa, Indiana, and Penn State. I'm feeling generous and so I'm inclined to give you 2-1 through that slate, especially since Greg Davis is still employed at Iowa. That's 7-5 and undeniable improvement. If you manage to steal Nebraska (as SC&S seems to have been promoting), that'd just be icing.

QUICK REFERENCE:

Adj Off - analogous to scoring offense, adjusted for opponent strength.

Adj Def - analogous to scoring defense, adjusted for opponent strength.

Adj Eff - analogous to scoring ratio, adjusted for opponent strength.

Adj Marg - analogous to scoring margin, adjusted for opponent strength.

Luck - difference between actual winning percentage and expected winning percentage.

Resume - analogous to win/loss record, adjusted for opponent strength.

For for information see here: HOEGHER'S PRIMER.

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