No big news came out of Gophers coach Tracy Claeys' segment on Thursday's Big Ten teleconference, but he had some interesting thoughts on the recent TCU series, responding to a question from the Chicago Sun-Times.
"We really didn’t mind playing [TCU]; we wish it would have been backed up one more year, the series, so the second game would have been this year," Claeys said. "The first year we went down there, we knew we still had some work to do.
"If you’re at the right timing in your program and you have some upperclassmen and kids who’ve played well, you don’t mind playing a game like that. But at the same time, if it’s a year where you’ve replaced a bunch of people, playing one of the top five teams in the country, opening up, I don’t think is in your best interest."
Claeys noted how hard it is to find the right timing for those games since schedules are set so far in advance. TCU clobbered the Gophers 30-7 two years ago and escaped Minneapolis with a 23-17 win in last year's season opener. Minnesota went on to squeak past Colorado State (23-20, OT), Kent State (10-7) and Ohio (27-24) to close nonconference play.
Asked if the lingering disappointment from the TCU loss might have affected the Gophers, Claeys said, "You put a lot of time into getting ready for that one, and the disappointment -- ." Claeys caught himself, adding, "But part of it was those teams that we played against really played awfully well when they played against us."
This year, the Gophers open with all three non-conference games at home, playing Oregon State (Sept. 1), Indiana State (Sept. 10) and Colorado State (Sept. 24). They open the nine-game Big Ten slate at Penn State on Oct. 1.