Yesterday a fellow Gopher blogger, Buck Bravo over at The Daily Gopher, wrote an article titled "U Pesci Fet d'a Testa." As Buck explains, this is an old Italian phrase that translates to "a fish smells first from the head."
Buck is a man after my own heart as this saying, although not the original Italian version, or at least some derivative of it, has been a favorite saying of mine for a long time.
He also happens to be a man after my own heart because he cleverly compared the fish to the Fisch, or Jedd Fisch, the Gopher's ex (thankfully) offensive coordinator, who I believe was an idiot. The Italian-English hybrid of the saying might be "U's Fisch fet d'a." (At this point, let me point out that I'm neither a speaker of Italian, nor a great orator of my own first language, so feel free to spare me the translation lesson.)
What Buck has to say about Jedd Fisch is significant.
"Fisch was an accomplished assistant coach in the NFL, but had no experience as a coordinator. There's no doubt that Fisch understood offensive schemes and strategy. Unfortunately, in my opinion he didn't understand the college game... Rumors were abound last year that Fisch had burdened the offense with a "300 page playbook"... He set NFL-level learning curve expectations for college kids who also had to study math, social studies, and science."
So the guy is gone now, and that is just fine with me. But as we look forward to 2010, I think it's worth looking at what happened to the Gopher offense, and specifically Adam Weber, in 2009 as a means of looking forward.
The 2009 Gopher football season opened with a buzz as TCF Bank Stadium opened to incredible excitement. Unfortunately, the product that the Gophers put on the new field-turf at The Bank didn't quite compete with what the fans were experiencing in the stands and the offense was the biggest offender.
When Mike Dunbar left the Gophers "to pursue other opportunities" and Tim Brewster hired Jedd Fisch, the reaction from Gopher fans was similar to our reactions when Joel Maturi hired Tim Brewster... "WHO?!?!" But the "offensive genius" tag had been placed on Fisch and he had been anointed by Mike Shanahan.
Let's flashback to last fall at this time. Adam Weber was coming off of shoulder surgery and was out of shape. Additionally he was trying to learn Fisch's NFL style offense.
So here's Weber, a 3rd year starter, recovering from a shoulder surgery that kept him from conditioning in the off-season the way he wanted to, and he's having to learn an offense that is ultimately going to ask him to see things and do things that, despite his natural physical talents, are well out of his comfort zone.
At this point I'm sure you're thinking "great, another Gopher homer who's making excuses for Adam Weber... pah-lease!!!" That's fine, I understand, and I'm not saying Weber couldn't have had a better season, because he had an AWFUL season, and he is certainly a least partially to blame. All I'm pointing out is that the deck was very much stacked against A-dub.
Weber talked to Marcus Fuller of the St Paul Pioneer Press recently this quote says it all:
"We've had only 15 practices with coach Horton so far, but I already know that we're not going to try to trick ourselves," Weber said. "This style of play is more of a traditional style of football. For a while the spread became very popular, and it still is, but this style of play is more suited for the talent we have on our team. For me, I feel most comfortable in the I-formation with play-action fakes and being under center. That's what I was recruited to play. I wish I had more seasons with it."
Even considering the abysmal 2009 that Adam Weber had (where Fisch's offense often forced Weber to make the type of out passes that he is so uncomfortable with... but why would an offensive coordinator bother to know something like that?), he's starting his fourth season as a starter for the Gophers, he holds, or will hold, every single Gopher passing record that ever existed, he's in the best shape of his career, and he's more comfortable with the offense that Jeff Horton is installing.
Here is the bottom line for me: he's got no excuses this fall, and I am expecting big things out of Adam Weber this year.
Having said that, if he performs like he did last year, I'll assume the same position that I did last year at the head of the Bench Adam Weber bandwagon.
You can commence ripping me for being a homer now.