The Gophers football team lost at Illinois on Saturday, and it's amazing how all the people who were loving a winner fell off the bandwagon once the team suffered an unexpected loss.
Listen, Jerry Kill inherited a tough situation when he took over the Gophers football program. While a lot of people criticized former coach Tim Brewster, and he had his issues, Brewster had a hard time getting kids into school, and that was one of the reasons he didn’t win much.
It’s not easy to get the average kid into school at Minnesota, and when they cut out the General College at the university in 2005, it was a big blow of the ability of all major coaches at the university – football and basketball especially – to recruit kids who didn’t have strong academic record in high school. General College helped those students get started at the university.
The basketball programs and football programs at Minnesota are still hurting because of the absence of the General College. And Minnesota is one of the toughest schools in the Big 10 to stay eligible because of their rules concerning advancing academically from the freshman year to the senior year each semester.
Jerry Kill needs more time to recruit good players to put Minnesota in a position with Iowa and Wisconsin, similar programs.
One last thing – there is a danger of the Gophers losing a couple of coaches after this year, and that would be a big blow.
Stay patient with Jerry Kill. He will continue to improve the winning records at Minnesota. Just give him time.
On the Fox postgame NFL show following the Vikings’ 19-13 overtime victory over Tampa Bay, ex-Dallas coach Jimmy Johnson sang the praises of Vikings coach Mike Zimmer.
“Zimmer is winning without Adrian Peterson, without a lot of veteran players, and with a bunch of young players like Cordarrelle Patterson, Jerick McKinnon and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater,” Johnson said.
Johnson gave the impression that Zimmer is doing a great job in his first year as a head coach and that, in time, the Vikings will be winners.
On another subject, the Vikings’ schedule now is in their favor. They could get tight end Kyle Rudolph back this week, and a number of other players are healing – like Chad Greenway, who had nine tackles on Sunday, to mention one of many.
They should be able to beat Washington next Sunday and go into the bye week at 4-5, and be a threat to win more games at home then they have in the recent past.
Bridgewater’s real test will come Sunday against the Redskins and we’ll find out more about him. He had a good day on Sunday against the worst defense in the NFL. But we’ll see if Bridgewater is taking to the coaching of Norv Turner, and also Christian Ponder, who spends a lot of time helping Bridgewater. He will need to stay in the pocket and get rid of the ball quickly.
I’m a great booster of the Wilf family, and I think it was fortunate when they bought the Vikings. Any other owner wouldn’t have gotten a stadium because they wouldn’t have put forth the money that the Wilfs have.
But one thing I disagree with them was the firing of Mr. Leslie Frazier last season. Fortunately, they got a break when they got a great coach in Mike Zimmer. But Frazier, in my mind, did a great coaching job last year. It wasn’t his fault that they lost all those close games in the final minutes, and in my opinion, he shouldn’t have been fired.
Now the Vikings go to Tampa Bay, where they have to play a team where Leslie Frazier is the defensive coordinator. If the way the Vikings players love Frazier is any indication how the Bucs love Frazier, I expect those players to play their best game against the Vikings, and it won’t be an easy game to win.
One favorable thing for the Bucs is they had some defensive linemen injured who will be back for the Vikings game. I look for Tampa Bay to give the Vikings every bit as tough a game as they got from Buffalo.
I often have told this story when writing how important the center is for a National Football League team.
The Vikings were another example today, missing injured John Sullivan (concussion) as they scored only one touchdown and lost 17-16 at Buffalo on a last-second touchdown pass by Kyle Orton.
It was a draft I attended in 1968, and Paul Brown was drafting for the expansion Cincinnati Bengals, who had the No. 2 overall pick. The Vikings took USC tackle Ron Yary No. 1. There were some great quarterbacks and running backs available, but when it came time for Mr. Brown to announce his draft choice, he said “The Bengals select Bob Johnson, center of the University of Tennessee.” Knowing Brown as I did, I asked him, “Why are you doing that?”
He said “Bob Johnson will play a dozen years for me, and without a good center, you can’t win.”
And he was right. Johnson played 12 years, and his No. 54 is the only number retired by the Bengals.
So when Joe Berger, who hasn’t played much center in the NFL, and hardly any for the Vikings, came in at center for the injured Sullivan, the team was in trouble. Rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was sacked five times.
The Vikings just don’t score touchdowns, and until they find a way to score touchdowns without Adrian Peterson and without Kyle Rudolph and without Matt Cassel and without Brandon Fusco, and now without Sullivan, it’s going to be more difficult.
The score was Detroit 17, Vikings 3. The problem wasn’t the quarterback, even though he was sacked eight times for 45 yards in losses … and when he did complete a pass, he was running for his life, and getting physically handled by the Lions.
The quarterback, one Teddy Bridgewater, is not a franchise quarterback, at least not yet, but he proved in the second half that he has a great future, not as a rookie, but once he gets an offensive line in front of him and a running game to go with it. You can’t win games without a running game, and the Vikings maybe have one of the worst running games in the league. You take Adrian Peterson out of the lineup, and all the opposition has to worry about is defending the pass to be effective.
Coaching isn’t the problem either. Mike Zimmer is a good head coach and has a good staff, but when you lose your starting right guard, your starting tight end, and other people aren’t performing, and you don’t have a running attack, the defense can’t win the game, even when it plays well.
This will be a good football team when Bridgewater gets some experience, Adrian Peterson comes back or a running back of his caliber is obtained, and the other injured players are healthy.
Until then, they will struggle, and I predict they will not win at Buffalo, and they might even have trouble winning at Tampa, where the Vikings, even with outstanding teams, always had a battle in the heat of Florida.
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