Good afternoon, college football fans. Beautiful day for a Gophers season opener and P.J. Fleck's Minnesota coaching debut, eh?
I am looking live from the press box at TCF Bank Stadium, taking in a great view of Minneapolis while getting ready to cover my first college football game in 23 years. My last view from a college football game wasn’t too shabby, either – with the San Gabriel Mountains in the background while I covered the 1994 Rose Bowl, where Penn State capped an undefeated season with a 38-20 victory over Oregon.
After nearly a quarter-century of working as a copy editor and layout editor, I’m back on a college football beat and covering the Gophers for a second time (I was the football beat writer for the Minnesota Daily in 1990).
To say things have changed from the last time I covered a college football game is an understatement.
Back in 1994, the newspaper I worked for, the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pa., did not have a website and we were not using the Internet yet.
In 1994, sending stories from games to the office was done through telephone lines and often using acoustic couplers. The computer of choice was the Radio Shack TRS-80. You’d only get six lines of screen to read, but those “Trash-80s’’ were durable.
And in 1994, college football still was ruled by the polls. There was no College Football Playoff, or even a Bowl Championship Series. So that often meant controversy to end the season. That year, both Penn State and Nebraska finished unbeaten, but both the Associated Press and coaches polls voted the Cornhuskers No. 1.
But enough about my history. Let’s take a quick look at tonight’s game.
Here are three areas about which I’m curious tonight:
** The quarterbacks: Plenty of questions here. Will Conor Rhoda or Demry Croft start? Which will have better command of the offense? Will there be plays called specific to each QB’s talent?
** The line play on both sides: The Gophers have had depth concerns on both lines, and it’ll be interesting to see how the offensive line looks after getting everyone back from injuries. On the D line, the matchup of Gophers standout DT Steven Richardson vs. center James O’Hagan, Buffalo’s best offensive lineman, should be fun to watch.
** Minnesota’s linebacker depth: Defensive coordinator Robb Smith has plenty of talent and speed at his disposal. Will we see a six-linebacker formation, at which the Gophers have hinted?