Friday, September 05, 2008

Blog Swap #2

So, we've had another chance to blog swap, this time with the Daily Gopher. This is always fun. I'll post my answers to his questions a little later, but for now, here's what he said to my questions....

1. It seems like you stopped NIU on the ground pretty well, but gave up huge yards on the passing game. How is your defense shaping up for this year?

Better but still not good enough. Apologists (like myself) will tell you that the yards are a bit misleading as 91 of them was one play with decent coverage and 1 missed tackle. Overall the defense was better. Better tackling, better coverage, better pressure and forced several third downs. But there were a few key missed tackles, some coverage reminiscent of 2007 and third down conversion was too high. We did stop Justin Anderson, which was encouraging but if their redshirt freshman QB can throw for that many yards I'm scared to see what Sheehan is going to do. I get the feeling the game plan vs. NIU was to stop the run. We will know a lot more after we face a team with a dangerous passing game.

2. Similarly, who are your playmakers on defense?

Nobody stands out as outstanding. But I'll go with safety Tramaine Brock and linebacker Simoni Lawrence as guys who are capable of making big plays. Neither are superstars but they both are fast and big hitters. Lawrence forced a fumble vs. NIU and Brock has a solid game showing he has some tools to make big plays.

3. Last year was a tough year after relative success under Glen Mason. Are Gopher fans comfortable with the program's direction or do you wish the AD had stayed the course.

I think most are glad we didn't stay the course, but there is much debate about the direction we are heading. On the field results are not positive but recruiting has been tremendous. The talent level is being upgraded which should give us a chance to have greater success, whether or not Brewster can take us to that level is a whole other question.

4. Talk about your special teams. How are they shaping up this season?

Well, I don't think we returned a punt last week as the NIU punter was pretty good. But the kick return game was a pleasent surprise. Back up running back, Jay Thomas and true freshman corner, Troy Stoudermire were great on kick returns. We started drives beyond the 35 on four kickoffs. Our FG unit is solid and our punter is a potential All-Big Ten punter. While I'm not willing to say that our Special Forces are a strength, through week one they were pretty good.

5. Is Minnesota doing anything new since we played last year?

Winning? Does that count? The offense should be very similar to last year, with potentially a little more complexity to it. Defensively we have greater speed and I noticed tigher coverage pre-snap, so the receivers should expect more physical corners at the line. Schematically we should be pretty similar, but if anything Gopher fans are hoping that we execute better than the last time you saw us.


My note: Yes, winning does count. Looking forward to Saturday's game.

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