Hartman: Claeys' faith in Gophers players is rewarded with victory

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 20, 2013 - 12:08 AM
hide

The Gophers defense was in the face of Northwestern quarterback Trevor Siemian repeatedly Saturday, with Ra’Shede Hageman, left, and Cameron Botticelli knocking down this pass. The Gophers broke up eight passes in all.

Photo: (MARLIN LEVISON • mlevison@startribune.com,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Not many Gophers football fans, nor media members, nor the Las Vegas sportsbooks who had Northwestern a double-digit favorite Saturday, believed the maroon and gold would beat the Wildcats for only the second time in seven meetings.

However, acting coach Tracy Claeys was one person convinced that the Gophers would upset the Wildcats, who had to play without two of their offensive stars in quarterback Kain Colter and running back Venric Mark, who were injured at Wisconsin.

Furthermore after studying the Gophers 42-13 loss to Michigan, Claeys believed the team had competed well with the Wolverines even though the score was not an indication of how close the game was.

So now the Gophers need one more win to go to their second bowl game in a row.

The Gophers scored only one offensive touchdown on a 29-yard pass from Philip Nelson to Derrick Engel, but they took advantage of the home team’s mistakes.

The turning point came when James Manuel intercepted a pass and took it 24 yards for a touchdown.

Nelson, who alternated at quarterback with Mitch Leidner, completed eight of 11 passes 112 yards and the one touchdown, while Leidner completed only one pass on three attempts for 11 yards. Rushing-wise Leidner had the edge with seven carries for 41 yards while Nelson had nine for 39. David Cobb was the big star on the ground for the Gophers with 20 carries for 106 of the team’s 176 yards.

Well, you won’t have a quarterback controversy. Because like how they operated against Northwestern, the two quarterbacks will do the same against Nebraska this week.

Vikings inconsistent

How can you account for a team going 12-4 and coming within an interception of reaching the Super Bowl, to the following season with basically the same personnel, starting 3-7, getting their coach fired and finishing 6-10?

And now that same situation that the Vikings faced in those 2009 and 2010 seasons might be happening again. They have gone from a 4-1 start to what was eventually a 10-6 playoff season a year ago to a 1-4 mark this year that has gotten the quarterback benched.

In 2009, Leslie Frazier was the defensive coordinator when Brett Favre led the Vikings to within a few plays of reaching the Super Bowl for the fifth time.

The next year, Favre decided to re-sign for one last chance at a Super Bowl. But after the team started 3-7, coach Brad Childress was fired and Frazier took over, going 3-3 the rest of the way before having his interim tag lifted in the offseason.

Frazier’s first season as full-time coach would only get worse as the team stumbled to a 3-13 record in 2011, and many thought the Vikings were in for a long rebuilding mode.

But last season Frazier surprised a lot of pundits when he took that last-place squad from the year before and earned a wild-card berth.

Now a year later, the Vikings sit at 1-4, they have removed Christian Ponder as the starting quarterback just a year after he started all 16 games in a playoff season, and their defense has gone from a solid unit in 2012 to one of the worst in the NFL statistically in 2013.

What’s amazing is that both in 2010 and 2013, the Vikings featured almost entirely the same personnel from the previous playoff seasons.

Answers hard to find

Frazier was asked how that happens.

“There are so many factors,” he said. “I mean it’s a new roster [this season] in a lot of ways, a lot of different people playing now. You see the situation that we have at quarterback; there are a lot of factors involved. It’s a new team. It really is a new team.”

He was hesitant to say that the same thing that happened to the team in 2010 is happening again this year.

“Ask me about that [situation] at the end of the season, my friend,” Frazier said. “We’re going to get it turned around and you’re going to say, ‘How in the heck did they turn that around?’ Just like they said, ‘How in the heck did they go from 3-13 to 10-6?’ We’re going to turn it around.”

Still, when pressed about the question of how a team such as the 2010 Vikings go from being maybe the second-best team in the NFL to having their coach fired 10 games into the season, Frazier said that there are often factors away from the field that can impact a team’s performance.

“There were a lot of things leading up to that season that I can’t talk about,” he said. “There was a lot of stuff. You know what it happens a lot in our league.”

Now the Vikings and General Manager Rick Spielman will hope that newly signed quarterback Josh Freeman can lead the team back to success after it has again stumbled out of the gate.

SID’s JOTTINGS
• Giants quarterback Eli Manning has thrown 15 interceptions this season, including two in each of New York’s first two possessions vs. the Bears in a 27-21 loss in Week 6. The 15 interceptions put him on a pace to challenge the NFL record of 42 set by George Blanda in 1962. But how will Manning do against the leaky Vikings pass defense?

• The Vikings have given up 308 passing yards per game, 29th in the NFL, with only the Cowboys, Eagles and the Broncos ranking worse. And the Vikings have only 10 sacks this year, ahead of only the Bears, Steelers and Giants. One plus for the Vikings is that they have intercepted seven passes in five games.

• The just-released 2018 and ’19 Big Ten football schedules have the Gophers closing the season against Wisconsin both years, continuing a tradition of the past. The Gophers and Badgers haven’t finished the season against each other since 2007, but they will do so each of the next six years.

• Former Gophers assistants Kevin Sumlin at Texas A&M and Tony Levine at Houston are having good seasons, but both coaches suffered shootout losses Saturday. Levine, who also played for the Gophers and was an assistant to Sumlin at Houston, was unbeaten before losing 47-46 to BYU. Sumlin’s Aggies fell to Auburn 45-41.

• If you recall the Gophers paid North Carolina $800,000 last year to get out of a home-and-home football series. Well, the Tar Heels are 1-5 this year. However on Thursday, unbeaten Miami had to score with 16 seconds left to beat them 27-23.

• Lefthander Craig Breslow was with the Twins in 2008 and ’09 and posted a 1-4 record with a 2.89 ERA in 59 games. Now he is with Boston and was 5-2 with a 1.81 ERA in the regular season, and going into Saturday he had pitched six shutout innings with five strikeouts this postseason.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Houston 23 FINAL
Pittsburgh 30
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 98 FINAL
Cleveland 107
New Orleans 88 FINAL
Washington 84
Milwaukee 120 FINAL
New York 107
Philadelphia 88 FINAL
Brooklyn 99
Charlotte 114 FINAL
Atlanta 117
Sacramento 99 FINAL
San Antonio 106
Memphis 103 FINAL
Dallas 108
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Arkansas State 7:00 PM
Louisiana
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close