Jim Souhan analyzes the local sports scene and advises you to never take his betting advice. He likes old guitars and old music, never eats press box hot dogs, and can be heard on 1500ESPN at 2:05 p.m. weekdays, and Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon.

Find him on Twitter

Posts about Gopher quarterbacks

Wrapping up the weekend in sports

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: September 25, 2011 - 6:35 PM
BLOG…
Congratulations to the Lynx for winning the Western Conference Finals. This sets up a big basketball week for me despite the lockout – I’ll be covering the Lynx in the WNBA finals, and Rick Adelman’s introductory press conference.
It’s nice to be able to say this about Glen Taylor’s operation without a hint of sarcasm: This is a great time to be a basketball fan in Minneapolis, even with a lockout.
On to the Vikings’ latest collapse. My column in the Monday paper will deal with the Vikings’ quarterback situation. Right now I’ll deal with the decision to try for a first down on fourth-and-1 from the Detroit 17 with 12 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Vikings led, 20-17, at that point. They hadn’t scored in the second half. The field goal unit ran onto the field, then was waved off. Donovan McNabb handed the ball to Toby Gerhart, who was lined up as a fullback ahead of Adrian Peterson, and Gerhart was stopped.
There are a number of problems with this sequence. Wouldn’t you rather give the ball to the NFL’s best running back? Yes. Of course.
But the first second-guess is the best second-guess in this case. The Vikings should have kicked the field goal. (And, by the way, I believe in first-guessing. So you can go back and see on my Twitter timeline that I said, before the play, that I’d kick the field goal.)
Even with Peterson carrying the ball, here’s the problem with going for it on fourth-and-1 from the 17: Even if you make the first down, you aren’t guaranteed an eventual touchdown. Odds are, you’d just wind up kicking a field goal, anyway. And you could turn the ball over, or take a sack, or get penalized, and wind up farther back than you started.
Kick the field goal, and the Lions have to score a touchdown to beat you. The Lions didn’t score a touchdown the rest of the way, winning the game with two field goals in regulation and one in overtime.
But if you’re going to go for it on fourth down, wouldn’t you want Jimmy Kleinsasser leading Adrian Peterson? Don’t you want your best player making the deciding play?
Lost in the loss is the outstanding play of the Vikings’ defensive ends, Jared Allen and Brian Robison. They dominated the line of scrimmage.
Both came into the season facing questions. Allen started slowly last year. Robison is considered undersized, and I wondered whether he’d hold up over the course of a game. Both have been excellent and relentless.
That’s the troublesome part of the Vikings’ struggles: They have a lot of admirable veterans who are seeing their last good year(s) wasted because the Vikings can’t get decent play out of the quarterback position.
I don’t doubt the effort or will of many of the Vikings’ veterans - Adrian Peterson, Antoine Winfield, Allen, Chad Greenway, E.J. Henderson, Steve Hutchinson. But the NFL is not about willpower; it’s about coaching, design, and offensive skill players. Discovered this stat as I was researching my Monday column: As offenses explode all around the NFL, the Vikings and McNabb have produced just one pass play longer than 24 yards. It was a screen pass that Toby Gerhart carried 42 yards.
That’s pathetic.               
Gophers football coach Jerry Kill is having more health problems.
I mean this seriously: He should take off the rest of the season. He needs to get control of his health. He also needs to understand that nobody ever wants to see him writhing on the sideline again.
His health issues aside, the Gophers have lost to New Mexico State and North Dakota State at home. Kill and his staff deserve blame, especially for their handling of the quarterback position. I’ll also blame Tim Brewster. He was supposed to be a great recruiter, yet the Gophers do not have better athletes than New Mexico State and North Dakota State. And their best athlete, MarQueis Gray, is playing out of position.
Max Shortell hasn’t won the starting quarterback job, but Gray has lost it. Start Shortell, start developing him, and put Gray at a position where he can help this team – slot receiver. You’d be improving two positions at once.
 
 
 

What an awful weekend

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: September 11, 2011 - 9:09 PM

Let me recap this amazing Minnesota sports weekend:

1. Jerry Kill suffers a seizure.

2. The Gopher football team loses to gawdawful New Mexico State at home one week after inspiring hope (at least for a sucker like me) at USC.

3. The Twins take half-measures, firing two members of the Triple-A staff, while the big-league team continues to bumble around like drunks.

4. The Vikings unveil their new quarterback and offensive coordinator and manage two passing yards in the second half of a 24-17 loss.

Reactions to the four?

1. I wish Mr. Kill well, but please don't try the ``This puts things in perspective'' line on me.

Does that mean that because Kill was stricken in public that we should all pretend the games don't matter, or that sport doesn't matter?

Really? So the University of Minnesota is paying Kill and his staff millions for no reason? The billion-dollar industries that are the NFL and MLB don't matter? Kill's ability to create a great life for himself, his family and the coaches and players whom he values doesn't matter?

Bad stuff happens every day, all over the world. You know how these events help me ``put sports into perspective?'' By making me enjoy and value sports even more.

Sport is not a bunch of kids playing pickup ball while blowing off their homework. Sport is commerce. Sport is human drama. Sport is entertainment. Sport is a means by which many people improve their lives, either directly or vicariously.

Are they overdone sometimes? Certainly. But the only reason they're overdome sometimes is because so many of us care about them, and care about the people who play them.

A man falling ill doesn't ``put sports into perspective'' anymore than it puts theater, or car ownership, or eating donuts into perspective.

I admire Kill because of his story and his gumption. I wish him a speedy and full recovery. And when he's back, I'm sure he'll tell you that his seizure isn't reason to pity him or care less about the games. I'm sure he'll tell you that he's doing what he loves and plans to throw himself right back into the business of trying to win games and influence people.

That's what he's chosen to do with his life. Don't diminish it with this nonsense about ``perspective.''

2. I'm back to what I thought of the Gophers entering the season. They have few outstanding players and will struggle to win five games. Six would be a triumph.

I do believe that MarQueis Gray can help this team more as a slot receiver than a quarterback. I'd make the move now, putting in Max Shortell, and allowing Gray to play multiple roles, including Wildcat quarterback.

Gray was often spectacular at receiver last year. Shortell is the future, for the moment, at quarterback. You're not going to the Rose Bowl regardless of which one plays QB. Play for the future - Shortell's as a quarterback, and Gray as an NFL prospect at receiver.

3. How do you spell ``Bleeechhhh?''

4. I expected the Vikings offense to be somewhat boring. I'm shocked that it was this ineffective in the second half.

Donovan McNabb threw for two yards in the second half. Two. (2). Dos. Brett Favre on his worst day would do better. So would Fran Tarkenton - today.

I don't blame McNabb solely. The play-calling was highly predictable, especially on first down, from the end of the first half until deep in the fourth quarter. I counted running plays called on seven straight first-down plays.

After the game, Percy Harvin hinted and Mike Jenkins came right out and told me that the offense was predictable. (More in my Monday morning column.)

McNabb wasn't the only problem - Charlie Johnson and the lack of speed at receiver were also factors - but he's got to be a lot better than this. The Vikings ran for 159 yards and a 6.1 yard average, and McNabb and his receivers didn't come close to taking advantage.

------------------------

I'm hearing the Wolves are negotiating with Rick Adelman. Two things I don't know:

1. Whether they're willing to meet his demands of a long-term deal worth $5 million a year or more, when they're still stuck with Kurt Rambis' contract and the league is in a lockout.

2. Who's their fallback? It's probably either Sam Mitchell or Don Nelson. I hope for Glen Taylor's sake that it's Mitchell. I keep hearing bad things about Nelson's last couple of stints. I think he'd burn out quickly and the Wolves would be going through this again next summer.

Adelman would be a great hire at the right price. Mitchell would be a promising hire and would make sense for this franchise. Nelson? Could be trouble.

-------------------------

Upcoming: My new slot on 1500espn is 2 p.m. each weekday. My twitter handle is @Souhanstrib.

 

Slowey. Really?

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: September 4, 2011 - 6:54 PM

When Kevin Slowey took the mound on Sunday, he could have had any number of goals.

He could have wanted to win a game. That's always good. Whether he wants the victory to help his teammates, or to help himself in arbitration, or to enhance his trade value, doesn't matter. You've got to want to win, right?

Or he could have wanted to help his team out, and save the bullpen for Monday, when the Twins have to play a doubleheader with a thin, injury-depleted pitching staff. Saving the bullpen would be a baseball moral victory.

Or he could have wanted to prove that he's a tougher guy than everyone thinks he is, after he bailed to the disabled list earlier this season because he didn't want to pitch in the bullpen.

So Slowey throws 95 pitches through seven innings. He looks sharp. He strikes out four, doesn't walk anybody, and he's down just 2-1.

If he goes out for the eighth inning, he has a chance to get a victory, or at least has a chance to save the Twins' bullpen for Monday.

Instead, he complained of a tight hamstring, forcing the Twins to bring in two relievers to pitch the eighth. The Twins lost 4-1, and Slowey didn't accomplish anything other than fortifying his reputation within the organization as a malingerer.

They need to trade this guy. The problem is, he's got a 5.31 ERA and a bad reputation. The Twins need to wait until teams are looking for pitching help this winter, and trade him for the best offer.

---------------------------------------------

I can't mention any names because of the sources of my information, but I was told that three different Twins were laughing or giggling or smiling in the late innings on Sunday, as the Twins lost 4-1.

It's amazing how a bad farm system has taught a bunch of young players that losing is the norm, and that there's no reason to get down about it.

That's one of the subjects of my Monday morning column.

----------------------------------------------

I keep hearing people saying that Rick Adelman and Don Nelson are better candidates than Sam Mitchell.

Well, Adelman is an excellent coach, but he's 65. When is the last time a 65-year-old coach took over an NBA rebuilding project and wound up being the right guy? (I'm sure there are examples. I'm also sure there aren 't many.)

The more I talk to NBA insiders, the more I hear that Nelson would be a ticking time bomb who would quickly fall out of favor with ownership and the front office. He might not last a season.

Mitchell may not be the first name you think of when you decide you want to hire an NBA coach, but he shouldn't be dismissed, either.

He was the NBA coach of the year in 2007. His winning percentage with the Raptors was .452. Not impressive? Well, consider the context. The only Raptors coach who has done better was Lenny Wilkins, at .459. Mitchell's replacement, Jay Triano, won at a .380 clip. I can only wish Dwane Casey, the classy former Wolves coach, luck in turning that franchise around.

Mitchell is 48. He's experienced but not old. He fought his way to the NBA with a gritty style of play that hid his lack of talent. He is an experienced NBA assistant. He'd force the Wolves to play with fire, and to play defense. If he had success, he wouldn't use this job as a golden parachute into retirement or a steppingstone to a better franchise. He'd stay.

He'd reconnect with Wolves fans who remember this franchise when it was competent and competitive. He'd be a credible connection to potential free agents. He has the right personality to make owner Glen Taylor feel included without allowing Taylor or anyone else to impinge on his authority.

Would he succeed? I have no idea. Circumstances are more important than will in some cases. But he seems to me to be the best fit out of all the candidates.

------------------------------------------

My favorite moment of the day: FSN's Robby Incmikoski asking Twins manager Ron Gardenhire if he took solace in the fact that his rotation is settled.

Gardenhire looked at him like he had cotton candy leaking out of his ears.

Settled? Gardenhire has one member of his original five-man rotation healthy: Carl Pavano. His other starters this week will be reliever Anthony Swarzak, Rule 5 draftee Scott Diamond, TBA (probably callup Liam Hendricks), Pavano, and the out-of-favor Slowey.

The Twins' rotation is about as settled as the San Andreas Fault.

Sometimes I hear the stupid questions people in my business ask and I hate the media, too.

------------------------------------------

My thanks to Gophers coach Jerry Kill for joining Sunday Morning Sports Talk. For once, I see Gopher fans falling all over themselves about a new coach, and I think they might be on to something.

------------------------------------------

Interesting week coming up for me: I'll be in Green Bay on Thursday night for the Packers opener, then heading to San Diego for the Vikings opener. I guess I could drop by Target Field, too, but I don't like being lonely.

My Twitter handle is @Souhanstrib. Follow me, Kevin. Please.

 

Monday Morning Quarterbacking

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: May 23, 2011 - 8:30 AM

I watched the Heat and Bulls last night, but didn't realize until this morning, watching Mike & Mike, that Joaquim Noah used a slur against a fan in Miami - the same slur that got Kobe Bryant into trouble earlier this season, when he yelled it at a ref.

First of all, I spent a little time around Noah when he played for Florida, and I know a few people who have covered him. I like the guy, and like everything I've ever heard about him.

Was uttering the slur wrong? Of course. But, as Mike & Mike noted, we're getting to a point in player-fan relations where I think we have to start holding the fan more accountable.

I think sports teams should start ejecting fans when they become too abusive. Haven't we evolved? Shouldn't we have reached a juncture in civilization when buying a ticket doesn't allow you the right to scream obscenities?

During the Twins' last homestand, a guy stood up in front of the press box and began screaming and cursing at a Twins reliever - I believe it was Joe Nathan. Why should he be allowed to do that, and ruin the experience of everyone within earshot? (A Twins usher calmed the man down.)

I took my daughter to a Timberwolves game years ago - we're talking the '90s - and we wound up next to a group of people who cursed the entire game. I never brought a kid back.

And that's not a shot at the Wolves. Whatever the state of their team, they work like crazy to make their fans comfortable..

I believe we need to start looking at sports more like theater, and less like a drunken night in a dive bar.

Can you imagine buying a ticket to a show, or a movie, or a concert, and having to sit next to someone who's screaming and cursing the entire night?

I'd say ``No.'' So why should it be allowed in professional sports, where people spend immense amounts of money on the entertainment?

-As I said on Twitter this morning, even if the Twins finish in last place, if they can trade Kevin Slowey, the season will be a success.

-We had ESPN's Chris Broussard on Sunday Morning Sports Talk on 1500espn this weekend, and we wound up talking about how LeBron James is almost like Magic Johnson in his ability to dominate a game physically and win without scoring. Then last night, he played a remarkably even, versatile game while letting Chris Bosh handle most of the scoring.

James has damaged his reputation as a good, down-to-earth guy in the last year. But he may be on his way to establishing himself as one of the greatest players of all time.

-I'll be fascinated to see how the Twins draw the rest of the year. Will people come for the ballpark? Will people show up only if the weather is good? Could the Twins' struggles be good for anyone who wants a chance to attend Target Field, and perhaps find a reasonably-priced ticket?

-Nice piece by colleague Chip Scoggins today on Chris Weinke's passing camp.

I don't know whether Christian Ponder will be a good NFL quarterback. He at least strikes me as an earnest, hard-working, responsible guy. That, combined with his obvious intelligence, should give him a chance to succeed.

Look at the great NFL quarterbacks. Their common denominators aren't exceptional arm strength and tremendous athletic ability. Their common denominators are intelligence, work ethic, leadership and accuracy.

Personally, I think covering the development of a talented young quarterback is the best story in sports. I'm hoping Ponder gives us something to write about, and talk about, for years.

-Had breakfast with Jerry Kill last week, leading to the piece I wrote for Sunday.

I like the guy. I think he's genuine. I also think he has a tough job.

-Upcoming: I'll be on 1500espn at 2:40 p.m. all week, and we'll host The Ron Gardenhire Show and Sunday Morning Sports Talk from the St. Thomas University mobile press box this week. You can follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.

 

Monday Morning Quarterbacking

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: May 23, 2011 - 8:30 AM

I watched the Heat and Bulls last night, but didn't realize until this morning, watching Mike & Mike, that Joaquim Noah used a slur against a fan in Miami - the same slur that got Kobe Bryant into trouble earlier this season, when he yelled it at a ref.

First of all, I spent a little time around Noah when he played for Florida, and I know a few people who have covered him. I like the guy, and like everything I've ever heard about him.

Was uttering the slur wrong? Of course. But, as Mike & Mike noted, we're getting to a point in player-fan relations where I think we have to start holding the fan more accountable.

I think sports teams should start ejecting fans when they become too abusive. Haven't we evolved? Shouldn't we have reached a juncture in civilization when buying a ticket doesn't allow you the right to scream obscenities?

During the Twins' last homestand, a guy stood up in front of the press box and began screaming and cursing at a Twins reliever - I believe it was Joe Nathan. Why should he be allowed to do that, and ruin the experience of everyone within earshot? (A Twins usher calmed the man down.)

I took my daughter to a Timberwolves game years ago - we're talking the '90s - and we wound up next to a group of people who cursed the entire game. I never brought a kid back.

And that's not a shot at the Wolves. Whatever the state of their team, they work like crazy to make their fans comfortable..

I believe we need to start looking at sports more like theater, and less like a drunken night in a dive bar.

Can you imagine buying a ticket to a show, or a movie, or a concert, and having to sit next to someone who's screaming and cursing the entire night?

I'd say ``No.'' So why should it be allowed in professional sports, where people spend immense amounts of money on the entertainment?

-As I said on Twitter this morning, even if the Twins finish in last place, if they can trade Kevin Slowey, the season will be a success.

-We had ESPN's Chris Broussard on Sunday Morning Sports Talk on 1500espn this weekend, and we wound up talking about how LeBron James is almost like Magic Johnson in his ability to dominate a game physically and win without scoring. Then last night, he played a remarkably even, versatile game while letting Chris Bosh handle most of the scoring.

James has damaged his reputation as a good, down-to-earth guy in the last year. But he may be on his way to establishing himself as one of the greatest players of all time.

-I'll be fascinated to see how the Twins draw the rest of the year. Will people come for the ballpark? Will people show up only if the weather is good? Could the Twins' struggles be good for anyone who wants a chance to attend Target Field, and perhaps find a reasonably-priced ticket?

-Nice piece by colleague Chip Scoggins today on Chris Weinke's passing camp.

I don't know whether Christian Ponder will be a good NFL quarterback. He at least strikes me as an earnest, hard-working, responsible guy. That, combined with his obvious intelligence, should give him a chance to succeed.

Look at the great NFL quarterbacks. Their common denominators aren't exceptional arm strength and tremendous athletic ability. Their common denominators are intelligence, work ethic, leadership and accuracy.

Personally, I think covering the development of a talented young quarterback is the best story in sports. I'm hoping Ponder gives us something to write about, and talk about, for years.

-Had breakfast with Jerry Kill last week, leading to the piece I wrote for Sunday.

I like the guy. I think he's genuine. I also think he has a tough job.

-Upcoming: I'll be on 1500espn at 2:40 p.m. all week, and we'll host The Ron Gardenhire Show and Sunday Morning Sports Talk from the St. Thomas University mobile press box this week. You can follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.

 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post By Category

Professional baseball (155) Vikings (210)
Gopher coaches (49) Gopher quarterbacks (14)
Gopher recruiting (2) Gopher road games (3)
Gophers disciplinary action (2) Gophers recruiting (2)
Gophers spring football (4) TCF Bank Stadium (23)
The Big 10 (25) NCAA: football (15)
Gophers coaches (61) Gophers players (40)
Tubby Smith (38) Williams Arena (16)
Gophers post season (6) Gophers roster moves (4)
Golf (38) Soccer (4)
Twins news (39) WNBA (8)
Wild news (51) AFC (9)
Bears (24) Ex-Vikings (16)
Football on TV (83) Lions (18)
NFC (70) NFL draft (30)
NFL post-season (32) Packers (52)
Super Bowl (48) Vikings coaches (108)
Vikings defense (51) Vikings fans (36)
Vikings injury report (15) Vikings management (81)
Vikings off the field (29) Vikings offense (70)
Vikings quarterbacks (44) Vikings road games (14)
Vikings rookies (4) Vikings roster moves (3)
Vikings special teams (2) Vikings training camp (5)
Off the field (5) On the road (23)
Quarterbacks (36) Rookies (3)
Roster moves (1) Vikings draft (41)
Ron Gardenhire (120) Target Field (151)
Twins fans (159) Twins management (208)
Twins offense (115) Twins transactions (96)
NBA playoffs (40) Wolves coaches (72)
Wolves draft news (28) Wolves guards (37)
Wolves injury report (7) Wolves management (77)
Wolves players (59) Wolves trade talk (14)
Wolves training camp (11) All-Stars and honors (89)
Fighting (2) Wild coaching (42)
Wild management (53) Wild off-season news (9)
Wild player moves (8) Adrian Peterson (67)
Anthony Herrera (2) Antoine Winfield (16)
Ben Leber (1) Bernard Berrian (7)
Brad Childress (30) Brett Favre (56)
Brian Robison (3) Bryant McKinnie (3)
Cedric Griffin (5) Chad Greenway (11)
Chester Taylor (5) Chris Kluwe (2)
Darrell Bevell (6) E.J. Henderson (4)
Jared Allen (29) John Sullivan (6)
Kevin Williams (5) Leslie Frazier (55)
Madieu Williams (2) Pat Williams (3)
Percy Harvin (26) Phil Loadholt (3)
Ray Edwards (1) Ryan Longwell (9)
Sage Rosenfels (1) Sidney Rice (10)
Steve Hutchinson (7) Tarvaris Jackson (12)
Tyrell Johnson (2) Visanthe Shiancoe (5)
Brad Childress (30) Darrell Bevell (6)
Leslie Frazier (55) NHL news (9)
2010 Winter Games (13) Olympic curling (1)
Olympic hockey (8) Olympic skiing (4)
Olympic village (11)

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT