This is the anticipatory set. The getting ready for football.
Normally, the high school season is aligned with the NFL and NCAA enough so that all three can be enjoyed simultaneously. A virtual plethora of football weekend entertainment.
Not in Minnesota in 2015.
By next weekend most Minnesota high schools will reach the halfway points of their season. Just days before the Vikings begin their season. A lot of this has to do with the Gophers home stadium being the site of both the State Tournament and the NCAA and NFL.
So this year the season started early. Scrimmages were waived and the season begun far earlier than in years past. If you want a strong argument for keeping NFL preseason, talk to the varsity coaches of our local high schools. They will tell you that first week was some rough football.
The Gophers kicked off their season recently, with a tough loss against highly rated TCU. As a lifelong Minnesotan, I cannot recall the last time the Gophers ventured into facing a high ranked opponent in their non-conference schedule. It seems like we have had enough troubles with the Tulanes and South Dakota States. While the game appeared one-sided at times, the close loss gives hope for a decent season.
The Vikings contribution to our pre-season hype is the finalizing of their roster. The cutting of twenty some players usually brings an eye-opener or two. This year, the names that make the local heads turn include: Michael Mauti; Tyrus Thompson; Brandon Watts; and David Yankey. Each had brought some promise upon their arrival that we were improving in the offensive line and linebacker positions.
Maybe it is a good sign that these players are let go? Maybe we are improving rapidly.
Or it could be a bad sign that we are not drafting NFL ready players in the later rounds.
With the struggles of recent first round picks such as Cordarrelle Patterson, Christian Ponder, and Matt Kalil, some are beginning to question Rick Spielman. But for every struggle, I believe one could point to a Harrison Smith or Xavier Rhodes who has contributed greatly to our present team.
As the season is now less than a week away, Minnesota fans remain pumped for the 2015 season. We understand that the 4-1 preseason record means little. We know the loss of Phil Loadholt is a crushing blow to an already tarnished front line. The struggles of rookies like Trae Waynes in the preseason do not diminish our hopes even slightly.
For we have Teddy Bridgewater. And he will share the 2015 backfield with Adrian Peterson.
And that is all the ammunition that a purple backer needs.
And maybe an improving defense...
And a stronger offensive line...
And I guess a consistent kicker...
And possibly some wide receivers to emerge as a go-to...
And so on....