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Black Shoe Diaries Q&A With The Daily Gopher

And we're back.  It's been a rough two weeks.  Penn State fans had to sit around and listen to everyone with a microphone or twitter account say the sky is falling and Joe should go.  Well it's not and he shouldn't.  This week, Jeff from The Daily Gopher took a few minutes to answer some questions.  And as you'll read, he doesn't seem to have any faith in his Golden Gophers.

Also, be sure to check out part two of the Q&A over at The Daily Gopher, where my delusions of awesomeness shine.

Since the Tim Brewster hot seat is no longer hot, who would you like to see as the next coach of the Golden Gophers?  Is there any circumstance in which Minnesota pulls a Kansas State (they brought back Bill Snyder) and brings back their former coach, Glen Mason?

The Daily Gopher: Hard to say who we'd like for the next coach, since all the big names (Gary Patterson, Chris Petersen, Jim Harbaugh, Al Golden) will likely say no. My top choice right now is Brady Hoke at San Diego State.

As for bringing back Glen Mason? Hell no. Bill Snyder took K-State from perhaps the worst D1 program in the country in 1989, to four Big 12 North division titles and a Big 12 title. The man retired, on his own accord in 2005, and they renamed the stadium after him.

Mason was fired in 2006 because after he didn't get the Ohio St job he thought he deserved in 2003, his attitude and work ethic declined. He was a smarmy, arrogant SOB who definitely was the best coach Minnesota has had in decades, but had worn out his welcome.Firing him was the correct move. Hiring as his replacement a glorified cheer leader who was a career position coach with ZERO experience as a head coaching or even coordinator? From day one that was a mistake, and the past four years have only reinforced it.
What are your three keys to the game?

TDG: Besides Penn State missing their flight out and missing the game? Or AD Joel Maturi getting wise and also firing DC Kevin Cosgrove before Saturday? If neither of those things happen, I don't see Minnesota winning, because it'll just mean more of the same sloppy, undisciplined play we've seen from them all year.

How do you see things playing out on Saturday?

TDG: See above. We needed to fire our DC as much as the head coach. It's like Cosgrove is purposely trying to call the opposite plays defensive calls from the ones that would actually work. It would be amazing to watch for his total ineptitude if it wasn't so sad and frustrating. Seriously, your offense will find it's groove both running and passing. Whichever you want will work. Just look at Purdue last week- redshirt frosh QB Rob Henry looked like a deer in the headlights in his first start against Northwestern. Last week against Minnesota? He was wearing Drew Brees' old #15, and it was hard to tell them apart. Purdue shredded out defense. Just like everyone shreds our defense. So you'll be fine. Just don't take it as an omen for your season offensively, because things might be more difficult the rest of the way when you go back to playing real defenses.

The Gophers are currently 1-6 and 0-4 at home.  TCF Bank Stadium doesn't seem to be providing the home field advantage many thought it would.  How can the Gophers turn this thing around?  Is it more of a personnel issue?

TDG: As you can probably guess from the previous answers, it's not as much about personnel as it is the coaching. On both sides of the ball. And special teams. It's been flat awful. Most of us Gopher fans truly believe there's enough talent here to be 5-2 (losses to USC and Wisconsin), but our coaching has been so inept that we're 1-6.  

On paper, it looks like Minnesota has all the tools to succeed offensively.  Why do you think this 2010 team is struggling?

TDG: Because OC Jeff Horton (now the interim HC) believes that Minneapolis is Madison West, so we have to run the ball every down like Wisconsin does. He fails to see that even if you're really, really committed to the run, and you try really, really hard to do it, that this team can't and won't run the ball consistently well.

What he also fails to see is that this could be a good passing team. I don't love Adam Weber, but he has some weapons to throw to: Da'Jon McKnight and MarQueis Gray are two very athletic receivers who are both at least 6'3, TE Eric Lair has developed into one of the most reliable pass catching TE's in the conference, and Bryant Allen is a reliable slot target.

But you'd never know it from the game plan. Case in point, again from last week: Minnesota has the aforementioned pair of 6'3 athletic receivers. Purdue started a pair of 5'9 corners. How many shots did we take downfield to take advantage of this? Zero. We took zero shots. Didn't attempt it even once. What we DID do quite often was run the ball into the line of scrimmage for minimal gain over and over and over. Good times.

Penn Statehas already shown it can't score anything but field goals in the red zone.  How confident are you that the Minnesota defense can continue the trend of stopping this struggling Penn State offense?

TDG: I have no confidence whatsoever. None. Zero. Zilch. I have a total lack of confidence in Minnesota stopping Penn State's offense at all. Trust me, watching Penn State Saturday you'll swear it's Kerry Collins at QB and Ki-Jana Carter and Curtis Enis at TB and Derrick Williams and Deon Butler at WR. Maybe Kyle Brady at TE. Seriously, they'll look like the best offense you've ever seen. And it's all thanks to DC Kevin Cosgrove. He needs business cards that say "I can make your offense look amazing!" Can you tell I hate the guy? Just a little?
Let's take a trip down memory lane.  The 1999 Penn State vs. Minnesota game is a game that still haunts Nittany Lion fans to this day (it is also the game that many believe started the "dark years" for PSU).  Give us a Minnesota fans take on that game.

TDG: I might be missing one, but if that's not THE biggest moment for the Gophers in the last four or five decades, I don't know what would be. That '99 team might of been our best in that span as well. It was an enormous win at the time for us.
Minnesota had great success in the Big Ten when they had a power running game (Marion Barber III, etc).  Do you think the next coach should go back to that style and ditch the Spread?

TDG: Not necessarily. We're supposed to have a "power running game" now, but it sucks. The spread was actually the most successful offense we had under Brewster, and with a guy like MarQueis Gray available to run it, I'd prefer it right now.

Still, as you guys probably know, the key to a good offense is a good coach and staff to teach it and execute it, and we do not have a good coaching staff that can do that right now.

What player do you think will have an impact on the game for Minnesota on Saturday?

TDG: Wait a positive or negative impact? For a negative impact pick anyone on defense. Really, anyone. Go ahead, take the Gopher two deep depth chart on defense, close your eyes, and wherever your finger lands is the correct answer. It's a fun game.

Any hope of a positive impact would have to come from either McKnight, Lair, or Gray. But again, in order for them to make an impact Minnesota will have to throw, and we only throw when the game is clearly out of reach and there's no other choice. 

Penn State's defense has been hit hard by injuries and inconsistent play (especially by the run game).  Can the Gophers run over those Penn State defense?

TDG: No. We haven't had a good running game since the first two weeks of the season when we ran over MTSU and South Dakota. For the record, that's a Sun Belt school and a 1-AA program. Since we've started playing real defenses, we haven't run consistently on anyone. No reason that would change this week.

What are your thoughts on the Big Ten expansion and do you like the division splits?

TDG: Honestly, Gopher fans could not be happier. Despite being completely non-competitive lately with our three biggest rivals (Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan) we not only will get to play all three every year, but we also get a much-coveted annual game with Nebraska (who has beaten us like 14 straight times, including an 84-13 game that almost erased Minnesota from the face of the earth). Despite our lack of competitiveness against them, and really everyone else, I still couldn't be happier we get those games every year. Yeah, the schedule will be insane every year (remember our cross over is with Wisconsin), but its well worth it.

Well there it is.  If you read comments from both teams, you would think Penn State and Minnesota were entering a pillow fight match on Saturday.  Well they aren't, and if the Nittany Lions don't beat the Gophers on Saturday, BSD Mike is going to have to sound the alarm.