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Continued: Sid Hartman: Moss' departure left void for Culpepper

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Last update: November 18, 2007 - 12:07 AM

Gambled on system

Normally a coach in any sport comes up with a system that fits the players he has at hand.

Well, in the case of Tim Brewster, he didn't like the system under previous Gophers coach Glen Mason and decided to put in an offense and defense that could result in a losing season this year but might pay off in the future once players got acclimated to it.

For instance, senior Justin Valentine, an outstanding fullback under Mason, rarely saw action this season until the Illinois game, and he proved very valuable in the final games of the season, even though the Gophers always came up short.

Well the Gophers showed some improvement at the end of the year, even though they still lost close games to Iowa and Wisconsin, with Saturday's score 41-34 in favor of the Badgers.

Now the big question is if the combination of a good recruiting class for 2008 along with the experience of returning players will result in a winning season next year. Brewster insists that will happen.

Offensive coordinator Mike Dunbar, who put in the spread offense, agrees with Brewster and predicts quarterback Adam Weber and wide receiver Eric Decker, among others, will turn out to be great players in this system and will help make the Gophers winners in the future.

"Obviously, [Weber] has improved as our team has, and we've made some improvements here late in the season and Adam ... has a great upside to him. So, we're looking forward to the future," Dunbar said. "I think the kids are all getting better, they're all learning. Obviously it's a new system, a new scheme. I'm very committed to the spread, and that's the road that we're going to take."

Jottings

Freshman David Gilreath, who played high school football at Armstrong, had a big day for the Badgers on Saturday at the Metrodome, with two punt returns of 107 yards and six kickoffs for 119 yards. He originally committed to the Gophers and looked like a solid commitment for a long time. But he changed his mind, went to Wisconsin and he was one of the big reasons the Badgers won Saturday.

Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez, who took over a football program at Madison that was a lot worse than what Brewster inherited and made the Badgers into a powerhouse, said he doesn't have interest in the Nebraska coaching job as has been rumored.

The Gophers football schedule for 2008 is now complete with the opening opponent to be Northern Illinois, a team that fell to 2-9 this year after losing at Navy 35-24 on Saturday. The Huskies still have a game left against Ball State.

Only 20 players on the Vikings were here in 2005, the last year Culpepper was here. ... Speaking of Moss, he has 12 touchdown receptions and is threatening to break Jerry Rice's record of 22 TD catches in a season.

Kevin Garnett has turned down an invitation to be a member of the 2008 Olympic men's basketball team.

Willie Mobley, a highly regarded star defensive lineman for Eden Prairie, was among the Gophers football visitors at Saturday's game. Mobley hasn't committed to any school. Also on hand were verbal commitments Sam Maresh, a Champlin Park linebacker, and Vincent Hill, a wide receiver for Milford Academy Prep School in New Berlin, N.Y. Other guests of the Gophers from out of state included wide receiver Xzavian Brandon of Atlanta Northview, defensive back Tramaine Brock and defensive end Cedric McKinley of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, running back Maurice Greer of Garden City Community College and receiver Broderick Smith of Garden City High School and defensive tackle Joe Marshall of Clearwater, Fla.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Podcast twice a week at www.startribune.com/sidcast. shartman@startribune.com

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