Chip Scoggins is a Star Tribune sports columnist. He previously covered the Minnesota Vikings for four years, starting in 2008. In addition, he covered college football for five years. Chip has been with the Star Tribune since January 2000. He can be followed on twitter at @chipscoggins.Find Chip on Facebook.
I wasn't sure what to expect from Gophers coach Jerry Kill at his weekly press conference Tuesday. It was the first time I had seen Kill in person since he suffered a seizure in the final seconds of the New Mexico State game.
Kill made it perfectly clear that he isn't slowing down despite suffering more seizures while he was hospitalized. Our Gophers writer Phil Miller has some of Kill's spirited reaction on his blog right here.
I asked Kill about Saturday's opponent -- North Dakota State -- and how a number of players on the Bison roster are from the Twin Cities and wanted to play for the Gophers but were not recruited by Tim Brewster.
Kill didn't need any reminders about how motivated those players will be Saturday night.
"Well, I've heard about it since I took the job," he said. "Shoot, I was told I wasn't good enough for the job. So I'm one of those guys. You don't think I don't compete or I don't think about that from a day-to-day basis? So you bet your tail end they are going to come in here and be ready to play, and they are going to play with a chip on their shoulder.
"You don't have to convince me and tell me how hard those son-of-a-bucks are going to play. That's a subject that doesn't need to be discussed. I know they are going to play their best game, and I know they are going to play hard. I've got to make sure I our kids understand that. And, you know, if they don't understand it, they are not very educated, because it is what it is. They got beat in 2007 here and they had to block a field goal (to win in 2006).
"I lived with that I-AA and Division II label and all that, and I'm the same guy that ... we were I-AA and we went to Indiana and kicked their butt. Those things you can throw out the door. That's why college football is such a great sport. You don't know who is going to win from week to week. That's why you play. It don't matter what [darn] level it is, you'd better hook it up. They have some good players now, I'm telling you.
"So you're not going to hear me say anything because I know. I've lived it. Now, some of these people may not have lived it, and we have got some kids in the program that should have lived it still. [Duane] Bennett ought to remember it. So hopefully he'll get the message across."
The Vikings had a stunning second-half collapse in their 24-20 loss to Tampa Bay on Sunday after doing so many things right in the first half.
The Bucs deserve credit for pulling themselves together at halftime. I did a column on the drastic change in their performance for Monday's paper.
There is plenty of blame to go around on the Vikings side for the second-half failures. The offense managed just 114 yards in the second half. The defense had trouble stropping LeGarrette Blount, which slowed down their pass rush and allowed Josh Freeman to get into a rhythm.
Freeman completed 15 of 20 passes for 191 yards in the second half.
But the troubling part of the Vikings second half was their self-inflicted mistakes. Brian Robison jumped offsides on a third-down play that ended with the Vikings recovering a fumble.
Antoine Winfield and Husain Abdullah both missed tackles that turned what should have been a short gain by Preston Parker on third-and-12 into a 51-yard play.
Jared Allen was called for roughing the passer after he unnecessarily bumped Freeman after a throw, costing the Vikings 15 critical yards. The Bucs scored on a 25-yard touchdown pass to Arrelious Benn on the next play.
On the ensuing kickoff, Lorenzo Booker unwisely brought the ball out from six yards deep in the end zone and got stopped at the 9-yard line.
Then, with the Bucs in easy field-goal range inside of two minutes, Leslie Frazier opted not to use a timeout to stop the clock and save more time for his offense.
The Vikings simply aren't good enough to overcome all those mistakes.
"The offside (penalty on Robison) killed us," Allen said. "We could have had the ball at the 5-yard line. Roughing the passer on me. I wouldn’t have intentionally done it, obviously, but that’s a knucklehead move on my part to get a penalty in that situation. Still, at the end of the game, we had a chance to stop them, and I’ll take our defense against any team in the NFL. We have to find a way – if we have to stay on the field at halftime, I don’t know – but we’ve got to come out of the locker room and be better. The last two games, we’ve been pathetic. To have a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter and blow it, with this defense, Jiminy Cricket."
Vikings quarterback Donovan McNabb held his weekly press conference on Wednesday and his 39-yard passing total in the loss to San Diego in the season opener was the focus of conversation.
McNabb's passing statistics were even more alarming when you consider the league set a record for passing in Week 1 with 7,842 yards, including 517 from Tom Brady. The league average per team was 245 yards.
McNabb attempted to downplay the significance of his poor start statistically compared to his peers around the league.
"I’m not here competing with any other quarterbacks. I’m here to win ballgames," he said. "If you throw for 300, 400, 500 yards and you still lose a game, you’re still 0-1. We can look at QB ratings and everybody else’s numbers and stats, but it’s about being 1-0 at this particular point and we’re not. So now it’s just correcting it so we can possibly be 1-1."
His response was fairly predictable. But the manner in which the Vikings lost is what makes fans so uneasy. Not too many people predicted the Vikings would win Sunday. Probably fewer thought they would pass for 2 yards and have two first downs in the second half.
"You have to have short-term memory first of all," McNabb said. "You have to be patient and you have to understand it’s all about winning in this game. If I pass for 37 yards or whatever it may have been, or if I pass for 400, we lost the game."
The Vikings have so many new parts in their offense that it's probably unrealistic to think they would hit on all cylinders from the start. McNabb, however, isn't buying the "time to develop" angle.
"That’s something you say when you’re young," he said. "Do I have time to sit back and let it grow? No. I want it to happen now so that’s the way that I prepare. We prepare to win now. We have that type of team here and we expect to put it out on the field."
Our Timberwolves writer Jerry Zgoda has confirmed that the team has hired Rick Adelman as their new head coach.
To that I say: congratulations. Job well done.
For an organization that has too often made poor decisions and blunders, the Wolves got it right this time and should be commended for that. Adelman was the best candidate for the job and the Wolves step forward and made it happen.
Zgoda has reported along the way that Adelman was seeking a five-year, $25 million contract. It wasn't immediately known if that was the deal he got, but Wolves owner Glen Taylor obviously stepped up and made a hefty financial commitment to get the right guy.
Adelman brings instant credibility to an organization that sorely lacks it. They need direction and some life, on and off the court. Adelman is a veteran coach with a proven track record of making teams better. He's the real deal.
I know there was a lot of talk throughout the coaching search about the style of play the Wolves were looking for from the new coach. To me, that was secondary. I always felt they needed a strong coach first and foremost, someone who can teach their youthful roster how to play the game. I believe that's what they're getting in Adelman.
Their style of play and identity will come in time. But everything starts with competency on the bench.
Taylor and David Kahn have received their share of criticism in recent years and deservedly so. But today they desire something different. They should be praised for getting the right guy to try and lead their organization out of its current mess.
Not much gets fans and media whipped into a frenzy quite like a good old-fashioned quarterback controversy. I wouldn't call the situation in Dinkytown a quarterback controversy just yet, but something is brewing.
Yes, freshman Max Shortell looked calm and poised in relief of an injured MarQueis Gray in a season-opening loss at USC. Shortell rallied the Gophers with an impressive touchdown drive that gave them a chance to pull off an upset on the final drive.
That didn't happen because of a last-minute interception by USC, but Shortell's performance coupled with Gray's first-half struggles have resulted in questions about what the Gophers will and should do at that position going forward.
I'd be stunned if Gray doesn't start Saturday against New Mexico State, but I will also be surprised if Shortell doesn't at least get a series or two. That was a big question I had going into the season: How much playing time would Shortell get after having a solid fall camp in which he won the No. 2 job.
Gray struggled with his accuracy in the half-dozen practices and scrimmages I attended. That was somewhat to be expected because he is still learning to play the position at this level and is getting used to a new offense. It was unrealistic to think he would just flip a switch once the season started.
But he looked and played tight Saturday. I assume some of that can be attributed to first-game nerves. But he just didn't look comfortable throwing the ball.
Gray's ability to make things happen with his feet gives this offense a dimension that puts pressure on defenses. And he spent spring practice and fall camp as the starter. I don't think you change direction after one bad half.
But I can see the Gophers using some sort of rotation. Maybe not 50-50, but enough to give Shortell a chance to run the offense in different situations, such as early in the game.
I've never been a fan of teams using multiple quarterbacks. I wouldn't want my quarterback constantly worrying about making mistakes or looking over his shoulder to see if he's coming out.
But I'm intrigued by Shortell's performance and would like to see more of him.