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B1G 2015: Minnesota Cocktail Party

Sit back and enjoy this concoction of vodka, peach schnapps, lemonade, and exceeded expectations.

Goldy loves all of you.
Goldy loves all of you.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Come on in! How's it going?  I know it's Monday, but go ahead and get yourself some hotdish and a drink and let's talk about Gopher Football, shall we?  Wait, where are you going? Come back!  I HAVE GOOD ALCOHOL!  WE CAN TALK ABOUT THE TWINS INSTEAD!! MIGUEL SANO IS GOOD!!!

About Last Season

The Good News…

Jug! Pig! Chair!  Going into the season, I thought we’d go 6-6.  As I’ve said many times during my many years of suffering through Minnesota sports: I like being wrong.  3-1 through the non-conf is doing the job, and then the first THAT happened.  Minnesota looked like it was trying to pay Michigan back for everything dating back the early 1960’s when desegregation and our own administrations put Gopher football underground for decades.  The 2nd half was a bloodbath and was the most lopsided rivalry game the Gophers have dominated in a very long time.  It was a feat considered many to be unrepeatable, and it was for at least for another 6 weeks.  But we’ll get back to that, because after a bye and what was thought to be the soft, creamy center of the schedule consisting of justNorthwestern, something called Purdue, and Illinois turned into a slog with a pair of one-score wins that still counted at wins and the Illinois game.  Sitting at 6-2 and staring at a seemingly revitalized Iowa team was a daunting task that was difficult for all of quarter, and then the elevator doors opened and there was Herky blood everywhere.  The Gopher program went about exorcising some 55-0 demons with the ease of drowning a baby bear (Hi Burch!) in the 51-14 debacling that wasn’t even that close.  Kirk Ferentz used the hurry-up and a timeout with 21 seconds left to help his team get a "Fuck me" touchdown to bring the score to a respectable 37 point deficit.  The last win of the year was the first on a trip to Lincoln since about 350 days before my mother was born.  It was hectic, frantic, and was capped off with a unbelievable turnover at the 2 yard line of what should have been Nebraska’s go-ahead touchdown.

The Bad News…

I’ll get this out of the way first and foremost: there’s no good excuse for pissing away a 17-13 3rd quarter lead when you’re Minnesota.  That’s supposed to be safe. Run the ball, play defense, and leave that shitbox in Madison with our Axe, our rematch/curbstomping date with tOSU, and our dignity.  Whoops.  Instead we lost the game, tOSU gave football fans the best B1GCG ever, and nobody in the stadium had any dignity when the game over.  There’s also the little matter of TCU taking our lunch money and spitting blood in our face, SEC East Runner-Up Mizzou playing with our defense like it was a ball of string, and…and…nope.  I can’t do it.  Nothing bad happened on October 25th against Illinois.  And because it was a loss the game against tOSU belongs here too, but nobody played the eventual National Champions tougher after November 1st than we did in the 7-point loss.

On the Offensive Side of the Ball

The Good News…

Do you like Novocain?  Boring, dependable, maybe the occasional surprise when something goes wrong and there’s sudden pain?  If so, you’ll love this offense.  Meet the boring run game with occasional pass mixed in, same as the old boring run game with the occasional pass mixed in.  The fat kids are going to do what they've been doing for the last couple years, which is maul people without conscience or pity.  The line returns 88 starts spread among 6 players.  There will be a bit of intrigue surrounding the running game situation with a slimmer Rodrick Williams and a hopefully more-reliable burner in Berkley Edwards stepping up.  Additionally, nobody knows if the prototype Jeff Jones will end up at RB or WR. (TANGENT TIME: In my opinion, one of the most important things for the long-term growth of Gopher football is Minneapolis city kids being stars.  Ra'shede Hageman and Jeff Jones will hopefully revitalize a depressing, moribund product that was the lifeline of the program in the past.)  If it is WR, he'd add something special to the potential of Drew Wolitarsky and the last chance for K.J. Maye.

The Bad News…

David Cobb’s 2828 yards and 20 TDs on the ground are just a memory now. Let’s just continue the trend of not talking about throwing the football, ok?  The loss of Maxxx Williams will be especially painful early while Mitch Leidner finds new favorite targets.  Good thing we’ve got a soft start to the sea…oh.  Oh no.

On the Defensive Side of the Ball

The Good News…

7 returning starters and the full coaching staff coming back should lead to something very confusing to football fans of any level in Minnesota under age 50: A high-end defense.  Theirien Cockran, Briean Boddy-Calhoun, and Antonio Johnson should all be All-B1G 1st/2nd team players, in addition to the usual breakout surprises that Minnesota has had.  My uneducated guess would be that DE Gaelin Elmore will be one of the breakout stars, thus condemning him to something subpar.  I'm legitimately expecting a huge season from the Gopher defense this year with the amount of returning snaps and consistent talent added over the past few years.

The Bad News…

Some very talented contributors have departed, and Minnesota fans have never been good at assuming that we'll just have somebody step up to replace them (in spite of evidence to the contrary under the Jerry Kill regime).  Michael Amaefula, Cameron Botticelli, Damien Wilson, Derrick Wells, and Cedric Thompson will all be missed.  It also needs to be pointed out that in the losses (except that Illinois outlier) opponents were able to rack up huge rushing and YPC numbers.

On the Special Teams Side of the Ball

The Good News…

Everyone is back!  Preseason All-American Twitterer and All-B1G Punter Pipes Mortell is back to entertain everyone for another year, and misplaced LB/actual K Ryan Santoso should continue to bomb FGs from the suburbs.  Jalen Myrick and Craig James should continue to rack up plenty of yards on KR/PR and hopefully not kill 5 hookers like the other Craig James did.  Allegedly.

The Bad News…

Talking about how your specialists are great contributors to your team is never a good thing.

On the Coaching Side of the Ball

The Good News…

EVERYONE ON THE DEFENSIVE SIDE OF THE BALL IS BACK!  That nobody got poached is a huge victory for the program.  That nobody got fired or reassigned yet again is more of a surprise for long-term Gopher fans that survived Glen Mason's revolving door of over-promoted LB coaches becoming DCs and Tim Brewster's revolcing door of shit coaches. Jay Sawvel continues to put together outstanding secondaries every year.  And at the end of the day, this team continues to get molded in the image of Jerry Kill: tough, resilient, and never knowing that they’re overmatched and are supposed to lose.

The Bad News…

Matt Limegrover’s playcalling is back!  If you’re a fan of RUTM (Run Up The Middle) this is great news.  Really, that's all Minnesota fans have to complain about in regards to coaching.  This staff is fun and good.

On the Schedule

Date Opponent
Sept 3 (Thursday) TCU
Sept 12 at Colorado St.
Sept 19 Kent State
Sept 26 Ohio
Oct 3 at Northwestern
Oct 10 at Purdue
Oct 17 Nebraska
Oct 31 Michigan
Nov 7 at Ohio State
Nov 14 at Iowa
Nov 21 Illinois
Nov 28 Wisconsin
Dec 5 Big Ten Championship Game
Dec 31 Playoff Semifinal (Orange Bowl/Cotton Bowl)
Jan 11 National Championship Game (Glendale, AZ)

If You’re Talking to a Minnesota Fan

Do Mention…

Jug! Pig! Chair! Bell!, How Minnesota still has more National Titles than anyone in the B1G not named Michigan or tOSU, Beer (The new slogan for Gopher Football gameday should be "Want to get Surly?"), Gopher Hockey (Men’s and Women’s), and how TCF Bank Stadium will always be better than that thing the Vikings are building because we can sit outside on beautiful fall Saturdays. Also: Honeycrisp apples.

Don’t Mention…

Axe, Tim Brewster, Glen Mason’s defenses, special teams, and passing games, Tim Brewster, the current streak against Wisconsin, Tim Brewster, Howl long it’s been since we’ve won the B1G/been to the Rose Bowl, and Tim Brewster.