Thursday, September 27, 2012

Gophers Week 5 Preview at Iowa Hawkeyes

Wins: 4
Losses: 0

Holy crap.  The Gophers cruised through their non-conference schedule to a 4-0 record.  They're a mere 2 wins from being bowl eligible and it isn't even October.  The Gopher defense appears to be legit as they stifle another throwing quarterback. The d-line was in Nassib's face and hit him so many times that he now likely has nightmares that cause him to diarrhea the bed.  You can't get that out of the sheets, either.

This Saturday, the Gophers head to Iowa in a game that I tabbed in my pre-season preview as "winnable" for the Gophers.  I could be sucking down the Kool-Aid with extra sugar, but now all B1G games appear to be winnable, this one [still] included.  It's true, everyone sucks.

Vegas still inexplicably has the Stinkeyes a 7 point favorite at Kinnick.  This is odd because Sagarin and the like have it Iowa -2 or thereabouts. Think about this for 4 seconds; Iowa is 93rd in the country in passing (202), 72nd in rushing (155) and 107th (20.5) in points for and they've played Northern Illinois, Iowa State, Northern Iowa and Central Michigan!  They're 38th in points against (18.5), but again, look at who they've played.  Plus, that 9-6 barnburner against ISU helps a bit.  They're coming off a 32-31 loss to Central Michigan.  FYI, Central Michigan was projected by most outlets to be a MAC bottom feeder.

In other words, Iowa played a non-conference schedule similar to the Gophers, but with much more disastrous results.  The Gophers are getting no respect here, so it's up to them to go Shede on Iowa here.

Going Big Shede

As a Junior, Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg had a pretty good year.  He threw for 3000+ yards and 25 TDs with only 7 interceptions.  So far this year he has just 808 yards passing and 1 TD against 2 interceptions. Keenan Ivory Davis and Kevonte Martin-Manley are the two big targets at WR with CJ Fiedorowicz as the 6'7" light pole in the middle.

The running game was featuring sophomore Damion Bullock, but he'll miss a second consecutive game due to a head injury.  Freshman Greg Garmon has been dealing with an elbow injury as well.  The last two games for Iowa have featured sophomore walk-on fullback Mark Weisman.  Weisman has rumbled for 330 yards and 6 TDs in the last two games.

Weisman mid-rumble.
The Iowa defense is one of the great mysteries in this game.  Historically, Iowa has produced some very good defenders.   As mentioned their overall defensive numbers look good, but 32 points to Central Michigan? Junior LB James Morris has 40 combined tackles through 4 games. Senior CB Micha Hyde also racks up the tackles and has 7 career interceptions for Iowa.


So, everyone isn't on the bandwagon yet.  There are some who are though.  Tom Deinhart and Brent Yarina at BTN are both predicting Gophers wins (as are 65% of voters on the poll there).  Brian Bennett and Adam Rittenberg of ESPN also picked the Maroon and Gold this week.  Note: Over lunch I read that Randball via the Strib called out these expert picks as well.  FML for thinking I'm making an original point.

The Gopher pass defense has proven themselves to be strong, but this week the onus will likely be on the run defense.  Weisman needs to be held in check in addition keeping Vandenberg under duress.   My new hero Adam Rittenberg says that alongside Purdue and Michigan State the Gophers have one of the three best defenses in the conference.  I predict Weisman has trouble running against the Minnesota front four.  In fact, I expect Ra'Shede Hageman to once again impose his will on the offensive line and make it a very long day them.

Shortell will get his second consecutive start after being serviceable last week against Syracuse.  After cutting off Ryan Nassib's head post-game, he has absorbed even more passing excellence.  There can be only one.  This will help him to find a couple of throwing scores in a relatively tight contest.  Gophers 20, Iowa 16

Absurd Hawkeye Fan Comments of the Week:

Ed Crawford (on on 9/26/2012 @ 9:33pm EDT Said: "Unfortunately, Our Iowa Hawkeyes have fallen to the bottom based on what happened last week. Weisman is impressive and we needed him to start the season and punch holes to the end-zone from the first whistle. It will take a big improvement from the rest of the team to win the Big Ten like they should have in 08,09,10"

TRE says:  So you're saying there's a chance????

83Hawk (on Iowa's Rivals board) : "Not predicting the score, but Kirk is one of the best coaches in the country.  He will have a masterful gameplan and the team will be ready to play. "

TRE says: Central Michigan masterful or Iowa State masterful?

Whinny (Iowa Rivals Board):  "Earth to Glen Mason:  Iowa has not lost one game in conference play.  So how that translates to being out of the Legends race boggles the mind."

TRE says: I think it MIGHT BE because you guys have laid down and vomit volcanoed on yourselves twice already.

Other Notes:

- The Tao of @BIG_shede:  "She really is CRAZY!!! She even said so herself"

- Bryce Harper is the 2nd teenager ever to reach 20 homers in a season.

- The Twins are still not in contention.

- I've watched 3 episodes of that show with that dude from Friends where he's a sports radio personality that lost his wife. (Go On?)  He looks creepy; like he had a bunch of plastic surgery and wears a ton of makeup.  Let's call it the Jerry Jones Face.  Anyway, there's a crazy beardy guy on the show that rules.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Next Year's Twins' rotation = yucky

With another failed Twins' season nearly, mercifully, behind us it's time to look at next season and speculate on how the Twins' will suck next year.  Actually it's pretty obvious, and it's once again starting pitching.  A remarkable twelve pitchers made starts for the Twins this season, and with Pavano hopefully gone via free agency, Nick Blackburn and Jason Marquis thankfully let go, and Francisco Liriano traded it's mostly a murky future.  Scott Diamond is the only Twin right now who is assured a place in the starting rotation next year, so I figured why not look at this other dorks and try to speculate on next season's horrid rotation?
I'm going to leave aside a few candidates, like Scott Baker (who, if he resigns here is certainly going to be the #1 guy), Anthony Swarzak (only made a handful of starts and is pretty clearly a bullpen arm at this point), the guys who pitched this year out of the pen but have some starting experience in their past (Jeff Manship, etc.), the minor league guys (Kyle Gibson, etc.), free agents (Derek Lowe, who is practically destined to become a Twin, etc.) and the guy I've never even heard of (Esmerling Valdez) and instead concentrate on the five guys who have already been given an extended audition this season (Sam Deduno, P.J. Walters, Cole Devries, Liam Hendriks, and Brian Duensing).  A quick primer on some stats I'll be referencing:

ERA - duh
WHIP - also duh
FIP - Fielding Independent Pitching.  Stat which measures a pitcher's effectiveness based on the things he can control (strikeouts, walks, home runs).  Think of it as what a pitcher's ERA should be if all things (fielding, luck, ballpark) were equal across the league.
xFIP - Expected Fielding Independent Pitching - Same thing, but if you assume home runs are out of the pitcher's control and looks at it as if all pitchers allowed the same number of home runs per fly ball hit off them.
BABIP - Batting Average on Balls in Play.  Exactly what it sounds like.  An attempt to quantify a pitcher's bad luck.  League average is around .300, so anything substantially higher or lower than that is usually an indicator of some good or bad luck for the pitcher.
xBABIP - Expected BABIP.  Based off of line drives, ground balls, fly balls, and pop-ups allowed.  Used to compare to BABIP because let's face it, a high BABIP could be because of bad luck or it could be because the pitcher is just throwing meat balls and getting laced all over the yard (*cough* Nick Blackburn *cough).  If xBABIP and BABIP differ significantly it's a better indicator of luck than straight BABIP.

Got it, nerds?  And we're off (stats as of 9/12 when I started this post).

BRIAN DUENSING (5.03 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 4.05 FIP, 4.51 xFIP, .319 BABIP, xBABIP .315)
Duensing's the guy we're most familiar with given that he's appeared in (158) and started (61) more games than the other guys on this list combined (note: I didn't actually add this up, I'm assuming), and what you see is what you get:  a soft-tossing lefty who supplements that by not being particularly crafty.  He's been an effective reliever in his career (ERA 3.19) and pretty bad as a starter (ERA 4.57).  This, in large part, is due to his complete ineptitude against right-handed batters.  He has actually been very good against lefties in his career, and would be most effectively used as a late inning lefty-specialist guy and that's where he belongs.  If Duensing is in the rotation for any significant length of time in 2013 the season is probably already a failure.

SAMUEL DEDUNO (3.55 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 5.06 FIP, 4.65 xFIP, .257 BABIP, xBABIP .326)
An interesting case since he's a 28-year old rookie who never really flashed any significant potential until putting up a 2.14 ERA in 9 starts at Rochester this year, Deduno has shown some signs of brilliance but balanced it out by getting destroyed at times as well.  I like the kid because he actually has shown some ability to strike people out, as evidenced by his putting up better than a K and inning in four different minor league stints throughout his career and in his six prior career major league appearances (all in relief).  Of course, he balances that out by not being able to consistently throw strikes with a ridiculous 5.5 BB/9 and the fewest percentage of thrown strikes of any Twin still in the rotation (with the exception of this Esmerling guy) - although he also generates the most swings and misses.  And it's not as if his control issues are anything new, he's struggled with them throughout his minor league career.  Still, he shows some promise and if he can get the walks at least a little bit under or control (or get his K rate back up to his minor league numbers) he could end up being a passable #4 starter.  Cautiously optimistic, but he has gotten significantly lucky on balls hit this year, so he has some serious potential to put up a +6 ERA.

P.J. WALTERS (6.05 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 5.98 FIP, 4.62 xFIP, .302 BABIP, xBABIP .352)
Plenty of warning flags with Walters, starting with the fact that he's a 27-year old on his third team who has only once posted a sub-4.00 ERA above A ball in at least 7 starts.   That's a really oddly written sentence but the point is he was traded after 5 years in the minors with the Cardinals and then the Blue Jays just plain old let him go before the Twins grabbed him off the trash heap and none of that speaks well for his future.  He doesn't strike anybody out and walks too many guys to balance that out, and his best seasons in the minors were in A ball when he was pitching out of the pen.  In retrospect, maybe the most amazing feat of the season was when he pitched that complete game 5-hitter against the White Sox all the way back in May in his third start making everyone think "Hey, maybe we have something here."  Sadly, we do not.  That was Walters season high in innings (9) and strikeouts (8), and only once would he allow fewer than five hits again and that was the game where he didn't get out of the first against Philly.  If you can't tell,  I am not a fan of him or his stupid name.

COLE DEVRIES (4.11 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 4.90 FIP, 4.73 xFIP, .262 BABIP, xBABIP .330)
Devries has been fortunate to find a lot of the same good luck Deduno has (which is sad really considering both of their mediocre numbers), but a lot of nerd stats also say he's been the best starter other than Diamond (which is also kind of sad).  I put Devries a step above Walters because he's at least actually shown some flashes of ability here and there and his K/BB ratio is a bit more palatable.  Of course he doesn't actually strike many people out, but he doesn't walk many either which, combined with being from Minnesota, means the Twins are going to give him more chances than Blackburn to win a spot in the rotation.  He's a soft-tosser for sure, but he does at least have four pitches, and one (slider) actually rates as statistically quite good (second best pitch of all the starters listed here on the team behind Deduno's slider which I'm pretty sure is actually a curve).  His fastball is so-so and his curve and change get ripped pretty good, but it's his first season in the big league's so let's see.  He also misses more bats than anybody other than Deduno, so that's promising.  I'm not particularly encouraged that it took him to 27 to actually reach the majors, but I guess out of this group he's actually one of the better options.  Yuck.

LIAM HENDRIKS (6.20 ERA, 1.69 WHIP, 5.49 FIP, 4.70 xFIP, .344 BABIP, xBABIP .354)
Hendriks' traditional numbers look far worse than the other guys, but he hasn't had the good luck Deduno, Walters, and Devries have and his advanced metrics put him right in line with everybody else here.  That being said, I don't really hold out much hope for Hendriks unless he can figure out a breaking pitch.  His fastball and change are right around league average, but both his curve and slider get absolutely pounded to the point where are those are the two of the three worst pitches on the team (along with Duensing's fastball).  However, unlike guys like Devries and Walters, Hendriks is only 23 and as such is likely not a finished product.  Where the older guys are likely locked in to "what you see is what you get" mode, Hendriks still has time to develop one of those breaking pitches (or something else).  The complete game 3-hitter he tossed against Seattle flashed some of his potential and his minor league numbers have been outstanding (2.65 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in 5 seasons) so with Hendriks patience is probably the key.  Hopefully he wins a spot in the rotation coming out of training camp next year which would be a clear sign he's continuing to improve.  If he starts the season at AAA next year it's probably a sign we can give up on him as a starter.  Although with the Twins' management in charge, maybe we actually can't get any useful info out of that.

So, to sum up:

Duensing:  left-handed bullpen option
Deduno:  could be a back of the rotation starter if he gets his walks under control
Walters:  totally sucks
Devries:  back of the rotation starter
Hendriks:  most potential of the group, could develop into a middle of the rotation guy

Man.  It's very possible the Twins' break camp with this rotation:  Diamond, Devries, Deduno, Hendriks, and Walters.  How many games would that team win in a season?  40?  50?  I have no idea how they managed to paint themselves into this corner.

Help us, Kyle Gibson.  You're our only hope.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Gophers get First 2013 commit

Sweet hair.  Please keep this style.

Welcome to the team, Alvin Ellis.  It's not the kind of signing that will blow your skirt up or anything, but I still think it's a pretty decent signing - and at least it's a signing of some kind.  Ellis is a three star recruit according to both ESPN and Rivals, with ESPN getting more specific and calling him the 52nd best SG in his class and scouting him with a 72 rating.  For reference, that rating is about on par with what Chip Armelin was ranked coming in by ESPN, and actually makes him the lowest ranked recruit (according to them) Tubby has brought in since coming to Minnesota.  Normally news like that would have be ranting and raving and breaking things and stabbing people with broken things, but the scouting report ESPN put out there makes it sound like he's got some actual potential.

According to their report he's both strong and athletic with a high basketball IQ (and I love me some high basketball IQ guys) with good ability to get to the rim as well as knock down an open jumper and is a very good defender.  Hell, I'll take that.  It also points out he's not the best ball-handler, which for a guard in the Big 10 is a pretty big negative, and also he needs to work on his jumper and is a good, not great athlete.  They also say he gets it done at a high level and has tremendous upside.  Cool.  Sounds like a good base to start from, because his shooting and ball-handling can always improve with more practice - the fact that he's a good (and willing) defender and smart player makes me think this could end up being one of those underrated type signings who may not do much for a year or two but ends up being a major contributor as an upper classman.

Additionally, despite the low rating from ESPN this wasn't a last minute recruit to fill a scholarship that was still open and sitting there in spring (like Maverick).  According to everything I've read this guy was recruited hard by the Gophers who wanted him bad and have for a couple of years.  Say what you want about the lukewarm success, both recruiting and on the court, the team has seen since hiring Tubby, but if he identifies a kid he wants that long ago, stays on him, and ends up signing him I'm going to trust his judgement.

Lastly, depending on what you read, it sounds like he had offers from Kansas State, Wichita State, Northwestern, and Butler.  Considering Butler and Wichita State have been very successful lately and built their success by finding underrated and under-recruited kids, I gotta say I'm on board here.

Seriously, what is wrong with me?  I've turned into Pollyanna.  I'm going to go push some kids down some stairs to balance myself out.  Then maybe I'll eat a puppy.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Gophers Week 4 Preview vs. Syracuse Orangemen

Otto is down!

The Gophers are 3-0 now after a somewhat convincing win over Western Michigan.  Hey, they covered as TREstradamous predicted.  There's still plenty of room on the bandwagon though as we head into week 4.  This is due to a number of questions surrounding our heroes.  I'll answer those questions by making some stuff and take a look at Syracuse through the eyes of a Syracuse football message board.

The Cuse are 1-2 after blowing a week one lead at home against Northwestern in the first week, getting semi-drubbed by USC in week 2 and coming back in the second half against Stony Brook for a win in week 3. Behind the arm of 6'2" senior quarterback Ryan Nassib, the Orangemen are #3 in the nation in passing at 379 yards per game.  Nassib has 9 TDs against 3 interceptions.  He's thrown for over 300 yards in each game and threw for a whopping 482 yards against Northwestern.  Too bad they blew that game at the end.

Nassib is down!

Besides Nassib, other key players on offense include senior WR Marcus Sales, who has caught 25 of Nassib's 97 completions.  Junior RB Jerome Smith has 44 carries and a 4.0 ypc average.  Junior Prince-Tyson Gulley is kind of the scat back companion to Smith.  He's just 5'9", 180lbs, but has a 5.0 ypc and has 14 receptions and 3 total TDs. Gulley, who also returns kicks is the runner up for coolest name on the team behind frosh WR Quinta Funderburke.  Apologies to Siriki Diabate and Shamarko Thomas.  The offensive line is pretty solid; a senior RT and the starting LG and C are all back.  Last year's all Big East LT is out though with issues in his surgically repaired left shoulder. Syracuse is another team that runs one of these high-paced, no huddle-ish type of offenses.  Everybody's doing it!

Syracuse has a defense in theory, but they have given up nearly 34 points a game in their first 3 and one of those teams was Stony Brook.  That's good for 97th in the FBS.  Sophomore starting CB Brandon Reddish is feeling bluish and might miss the game on Saturday with the dreaded "lower body injury".  That leaves Keon Lyn and Ri'Shard Anderson who will be backed up by a couple of freshmen.  The aforementioned Shamarko Thomas is the starting strong safety and a good tackler.  Dyshawn Davis started at WLB as a freshman and has 17 total tackles this year.  Junior Marquis Spruill starts in the middle and is the team's leading tackler with 21 total tackles.  For the most part they run a 4-3 defense.  The D-line has experience, but is not loaded with playmakers.

Bring out the gimp.
So, we all know last week's story by now, except perhaps for DWG since he left at the half.  Queis goes down and the Auburn Bomber Max Shortell comes in and lights up the scoreboard Tecmo Bowl style to put the Gophers on top of Western Michigan.  All signs point to Max playing the entire game on Saturday with whispers of Marqueis being available in a pinch.  Freshman Philip Nelson is Shortell's backup, but the last thing the Gophers want to do is us him for a part of this game and burn his redshirt.  There are apparently plans in place if Shorty has to come out for a few plays.  Everyone suspects it would be former high school QB KJ Maye, but what if it's the hulking Moses Alipate?  Man, that would be great.  Maybe give him a can of Spam and watch him eat it like Popeye to give him the go-go juice.  Wait, is Moses even Hawaiian?

The Gophers defense allowed just 162 passing yards per game through 3 games, which puts them 5th in the nation.  They are one of just three undefeated teams remaining in the Big Ten.  Certainly, they haven't played the opponents that others have, but they're getting wins and clearly improving. They are set to play their second late game of the year in front of a packed house (dare I say it?) at TCF.  Their last night game was a scary affair out in the desert and this one could be just as frightening.  With the distractions that are going on this week due to injury and hype, I'm predicting the Gophers lose this one 34-31.  I hope to the baby jesus I'm wrong and Shortell throws 112 touchdowns and I pee my cargo shorts with joy, but there it is.

Silly Comments from a Syracuse Football Board

As a throwback to my old blog I went out and found some of my favorite comments from the football board at

"With there starting QB out ( 2nd leading rusher) and there starting Center out.. I like our chances in this game. There back up QB I read is more of a pocket passer and our defence is going to be licking there chops to get at him.. I see the game being a 2pk and would take 'Cuse on that.. " -OrangeFreek 

TRE says: Homophone fail.

"I'm not sure I'd call it [Gopher game] a must-win in the sense that I suppose you could lose it but still win the big east or win a bunch of BE games and the Mizzou game, etc." -billsin01

TRE says: billsin01 aka Capt. Optimism.  Win the Big East?  I know it's like winning the Sun Belt these days, but c'mon.

"Have you actually watched Minny? They are awful ... we stuck with a better USC squad this season without USC making a ton of mistakes ... if you watched the USC/Minny games you would know that USC did everything humanly possible to cough those games up ... they couldn't run the ball on Minny..."  -wfschrec

TRE says: This one just goes on and on about how bad the Gophers were IN PRIOR YEARS.  At the same time he says how good he thinks Syracuse is going to be this year when they have been soft, warm poo IN PRIOR YEARS. 

"I kinda wish we were playing Gray. He's like a lobotomized BJ Daniels." - BlackNight76

TRE says:  Ok, now that's just funny.  Gray>Daniels though.


Screw it, after reading these Cuse boards I can feel the fear in their hearts and I am now changing my prediction to a Gopher victory.  Can you change prediction mid-blog?  I say yes.   Gophers 34, Orangeballs 31


Other News and Notes:

- If you don't know and love Ra'Shede Hageman, you haven't watched a minute of Gopher football this year.  Well, now he's active on twitter, so get ready to delve into the mind of a man that can throw opposing linemen through walls:

The Tao of Shede says "If you want something so bad,It's not worth it. Go play football or somin."  Epic.

- Jerry Kill on who gets to wear #51 in honor of Gary Tinsley each week, "I leave that up to Keanon [Cooper], I leave that up to the linebackers."  Pretty neat.

- The Killers have a new album.  Yes, they're still terrible.  Avoid at all costs.

- I watched Revolution on DVR yesterday.  This is the new post-apocalyptic show on NBC.  Basically an EMP blows out all power, so peeps are riding horses and fighting with swords and bows and stuff.  They fast forward 15 years to a struggle between the militia and some kind of normal community.  The fast forward move is always key so you can do all kinds of flashbacks.  JJ Abrams is the executive producer and although I managed to avoid Lost, I think it was flashback central.  Anyway, the first episode was kind of predictable and there are some pretty wooden characters.  My hopes aren't high, but I'll watch a couple more episodes just in case a story develops. (hint to self: It won't)

- Darko signed a deal for the vet minimum to play a bench role with the Celtics.  I'll miss his willingness to slog around on the inside and block some shots.  I won't miss his lack of commitment to getting himself in shape and his stupid fouls.  It's all PEK everything now.

- Josh Willingham's 35th homer is the most by  Twin since 1970.  Yowser.  And to answer your question, yes they are still playing baseball.  Stay tuned for our MLB Playoffs preview blog!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Hello from Hollywood

Yes that's right, I'm on a business trip here in L.A. and I'm sure you're looking forward to some drunk ramblings but here's the thing, I just flew in here late tonight and boy are my arms tired.  Seriously though, folks, this time out I have an absolutely jam-packed schedule going from 7am to 8pm (minimum) every night and I know I usually have a sink full of ice and beer and just type things and drink things to the point where I can't remember the last few things I typed up the next morning (usually a pleasant surprise) but this time that wouldn't be smart.  Luckily, I am not exactly known for doing the smart thing, so I do have a sink with ice and beer.   Will I be smart and just type up a little bit and then go to bed, or will I down all my beer and type into the wee hours?  READ ON.

-  With college football in full swing my thoughts inevitably turn to college basketball, and I'm a little nervous about this season for the Gophers because I'm feeling something I never do:  optimism, which is weird because usually optimism and me go together like vinegar and your face.

Obviously the season mainly hinges on Trevor Mbakwe, but let's say he's healthy.  Let's say he's even just back to 90% of the player he was before Dayton intentionally injured him because they're jerks - doesn't he become either the #1 or #2 post-player in the league, depending on what you think of Cody Zeller?  The only immediate impact type post playing freshmen coming into the conference this year are Mitch McGary at Michigan and Adam Woodbury at Iowa, and I think Woodbury is a bit of a project so at worst, assuming McGary is a world-beater, Mbakwe is a top-3 post guy (if he's healthy).

Then let's say Rodney Williams thrives with Mbakwe back rather than regressing to the passive wing player he was prior to Mbakwe's injury, and continues to exploit his athletic advantage over damn near everybody and becomes 1b in the paint to Mbakwe's 1a - wouldn't they have a massive rebounding edge over everybody?  In that scenario who even comes close to having two inside players that can match that?  Indiana (with Zeller and Watford) and who else?  I can't think of anybody.  Most of the top post-players either are hurt (Branden Dawson at Mich State) or jumped to the pros.

And how about Andre Hollins?  He's getting to be nearly unguardable going to the rim and makes nearly every free throw.  If he's worked on his jump shot (although 38% from 3 isn't terrible for a freshman) and can play a little more under control (but not too much more, I'm not Tubby here) what's his ceiling?  That run he put on to close out the season (save the Stanford game) was remarkable.  If he can play at that level who'd you take over him in the Big 10?  Trey Burke, sure.  Tim Frazier, maybe?  I could even listen to Aaron Craft but I'd like to know if he can be an offensive catalyst on a team first rather than the defensive and "glue" guy.  That's it.

Couldn't you make a case that the Gophers could potentially have three players in the top 3 at their position in the Big 10 this year?  And couldn't that be enough, with good role players (the other Hollins, Elliason,Welch, Osenieks, Walker even though I read he got fat but what would you expect) to win the Big 10 title?  Am I crazy here?  Probably.  And Probably I'm in for a world of disappointment this season but I'm going to go ahead and feel good about this season so there.

-  Remember what I said about writing alot.  Well instead I got a call from a coworker to go have a late dinner which I did (rice noodles in a garlic sauce with chinese broccoli and shrimp, roasted serrano peppers as an appetizer and then three Macallen 12's) so I'm going to call it a night.  I know, I'm disappointed too.  But as I told my wife when we got married, get used to dissapointment.  Until tomorrow.

Better post from last time I was here.  Well maybe not that good but there's some links in there that were better.  I don't know.  Just go click on stuff.  What do you have better to do.

NOTE:  There are some really, really good comments in some of those links.  I miss those guys when they were funny

Friday, September 14, 2012

Gophers Week 3 Preview vs. Western Michigan

Oh baby, WE'RE 2-0! 

I'll tell you what else, the B1G is in shambles. When is the last time the conference went .500 in a non-conference week?  Trick question, they've had an odd number of teams since 1990.  Anyway, they went 6-6 last week.  Wisconsin is in full coachless, RussellWilsonless meltdown mode.  Iowa is staggering through their non-conf schedule by barely beating NIU and losing to Iowa State.  The Norhern Iowa Lumberjacks come to Kinnick this week to steal one.  Indiana lost their playmaking QB, TRE Roberson.  You know he's awesome because his name is Tre.  Illinois got smoked by Arizona State and Nebraska took a dump against UCLA. This bodes well for our Gophers.  Who knows, they might even get a few conference wins?

For now the attention is on tomorrow's matchup with the Western Michigan Broncos.  The Gophers are just 2.5 point favorites in this one and the home team generally gets 3 points just for playing in their place; so the oddsmakers have this being a very even match-up.  Even worse, they have quarterback Alex Carder who I know is good because he was once on my fantasy football team.  Western Michigan scores a ton of points, but they only managed seven in week one against Illinois in a 24-7 loss.  So, is WMU an even opponent for Minnesota or are the odds-makers just leery as your typical Gopher fan?  And is Alex Carder in a rock band?

Scott Stapp, err...Alex Carder


Head coach Bill Cubit has been with WMU since 2005 after bouncing around college football as an offensive coordinator.  He played college football with the Delaware Blue Hens as a quarterback and wide receiver.  The guy knows offensive football and it shows on the teams he's had in Kalamazoo.  He's 48-40 as WMU's skipper and has never won less than 5 games.  He's 0-3 in bowl games so far.  When he started out as WMU's head coach he did the Tim Brewster trick of bringing his son in.  Except his son was actually good-ish and played QB for 3 years.  Ryan is now the co-offensive coordinator for the Broncos and Rich Nagy is the defensive coordinator.  Rich is not in relation to former Indians pitcher Charles Nagy, who I believe is now the Arizona Diamondbacks pitching coach.  Rich Nagy is the 5th DC in the last 7 seasons at WMU.


This team scores a lot of points mainly by using a spread offense and winging the ball around.  The last two seasons they have set new team records for points per game, clocking in at 35.3 last season.  Through two games Alex Carder has 603 yards and 6 TDs.  Last season he threw for 3800+ yards and 31 TDs.  So, he's more than just a good lead singer from a popular post-grunge era band.  His top target so far has been 5'11" freshman Jaime Wilson who has a whopping 19 receptions and 3 TDs.  Senior TE Blake Hammond is their second leading receiver with 7 grabs.  When they do run, they employ combo of three Juniors; Brian Fields, Dareyone Chance and Tevin Drake.  They have 42 total carries through two games.

Carder's beautiful flowing locks didn't stop him from throwing three interceptions against Illinois though.  When you're tossing the ball up in the air 40+ times a game, an aware secondary has a lot of opportunity to make plays.

Sad Nose Tackle is Sad


It's bad.  Even when whipping Eastern Illinois last week, they still managed to allow 3 TDs.  They mostly use three down linemen and emply either a 3-4 or a 3-3-5.  Travonte Boles is at the nose tackle and will have his work cut out for him.  Senior DE Freddie Bishop had 5.5 sacks last season. Junior CB Lewis Toler is another standout.  Junior Johnnie Simon is a tackle monster at safety, which generally is a bad thing because that means teams are getting to the second level. #cliche


This has been a hard blog to write because I'm watching the slop festival that is the Washington State-UNLV game.  Lots of scoring, lots of drops by offensive and defensive players, some brutal throws by the QBs, but all in all highly entertaining.  Wazzou QB is a ginger, so I bet on them of course.

I think the 2.5 has to be off and I am predicting another nice win for the Gophers.  I'm ready to embrace this team with arms wide open.  My only concern from last week's drubbing of New Hampshire was that Gray didn't get to throw enough.  Sure, he was 6-8, but I really wanted him to work out all of the kinks there.  There were a few pass plays called for him in the 3rd quarter that he pulled down and ran the ball.  Other than, it was total domination.  We have a defensive line for the first time since Lemanzer Williams.  Where are they now according to google says Lemanzer is the head football coach at Holland High School in Holland, MI, by the way.

Bottom line here is the Gopher's secondary gets a few picks of their own.  The offense is efficient again and controls the clock with the power running game of Gray and Kirkwood.  Score: 27-21, GOPHATRONS

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Wednesday Wonderings

I was going to do a statistic-laced post about the candidates for the Twins' rotation next year, but my computer kept shutting itself down due to depression so instead I'll just do that thing where I type whatever I think about.  I'll eventually get to the Twins' rotation because I've already put in too much time to just let it die, but man, looking at Cole Devries and P.J. Walters in the same night is a nightmare not even Poe could have come up with.

-  So Stephen Strasburg is officially shut-down now after 159 innings because he had a rough last outing, which really hurts the Nationals chances in the playoffs and is just, weird.  I understand the thinking behind the move, I just don't think it's the right plan.  Simply getting to the playoffs is damn hard, so when you have a chance at a special year I don't think it makes a whole lot of sense to jeopardize that when you don't even know if there's any actual benefit to doing so.

In the playoffs everybody will bump up one spot, which means the extra starts - assuming four starters - will go to Ross Detwiler instead of Strasburg.  Detwiler's a nice little pitcher - 3.23 ERA, 1.19 WHIP - nice.  But he strikes out half as many batters as Stras while walking the same amount, he's gotten a little bit lucky this year while Strasburg has gotten a tiny bit unlucky (BABIP-wise), and Detwiler throws three average pitches while Strasburg has three above average ones.  I suppose when you end up replacing your ace with your #4 you could a lot worse than Detwiler, but man, Strasburg.  Strasburg, man, Strasburg.

Honestly, is this the worst possible way they could have handled this?  If you're firmly committed to that 160-180 innings limit, however misguided, why wouldn't you at least make an attempt to maximize your value out of it?  Don't just keep running him out there every fifth day because you know come early September you've just run out of your best bullets (armor piercing, exploding, acid tipped, whatever).  Why not skip a few starts?  Why not go with a six-man rotation?  You could even go with a four man rotation and then slot him in just when you need another arm.  Or hell, spot start him part of the time and then use him in relief here and there.  Manage him so you have innings left for him in the playoffs, even if they're just bullpen innings.  Game 7, World Series:  would you rather start Strasburg or Detwiler?  Or how about Game 7, leading 3-2, 8th inning and your opponent has a man on second with zero outs - Strasburg or Craig Stammen?  Ugh.  I'd be so frustrated if I were a Nats fan, but then again I heard from some dude on the radio today that everybody in Washington is buying into this crap, so I guess they deserve what they get.  I hope Detwiler gets completely rocked.

-  I'm not generally one to make excuses for the University of Minnesota because it's more fun to just rip on stuff, but I had a conversation with some co-workers today that kind of made me think a little bit.  Think about all the cities that have all four major sports, like we do:  Boston, Chicago, Denver, Dallas, Detroit, Miami, New York, Philly, Phoenix, San Fran, and D.C.  And look at the most successful college sports program in that same city:  Boston College, Northwestern, U of Denver, Southern Methodist, Detroit-Mercy, U of Miami, St. John's, Villanova/Temple, Arizona State, Cal-Berkeley, Georgetown.  Now looking at that list, and considering success in ALL college sports, who'd you rather be than the University of Minnesota?  Miami and Cal, right?  Maybe B.C.?  Obviously St. John's and Georgetown are better in hoops, but they don't even have football teams I don't think.

So maybe, just maybe, I'm a little too hard on the teams.  After all, most college powers are located in some butthole town in the middle of nowhere so the population has really no choice but to spend all it's money and fan points on the college.  It's also how mini-cults like State College and the like happen, so I'm not saying that's a good thing, but it certainly gives you an idea of why the Gophers struggle at times.  Oh god, I don't even know who I am anymore.  Look away, I'm hideous.
This is me.
-  I'm watching this show Suburgatory for the first time and there's this chick on there named Jane Levy who is an absolute dead-ringer for Emma Stone, both appearance and line delivery-wise, which is totally awesome because I'm madly in love with Emma Stone and now there are two of her which doubles my odds.  Actually, two of her makes that pairing a contender for my dream threesome.  It's either those two, Natalie Portman and Keira Knightley, or Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake.
It's like a slice of heaven.  Red-headed, smart, sarcastic, sexy heaven
-  I'm sure I had lots of important stuff to say but then I got distracted by Real World and booze and so here we are.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Monday Musings (gopher football, stupid Wisconsin, and Gopher hoops recruits)

Some thoughts from the weekend:

-  Gopher football was pretty awesome this weekend.  Well, awesome is probably a bit strong considering all they did was beat a Division II team, but since the Gophers were 0-2 in their last two against D-2 teams I'd say this is a step in the right direction.  Even more impressive was how they won, because this wasn't some squeaker like against UNLV, they came out and and put a whooping on New Hampshire, leading 30-7 at half en route to a 44-7 victory.  Honestly, it was an even bigger ass-kicking than that.  Now, a pessimist could say that the only reason they beat them was because New Hampshire's QB got knocked out with an injury after throwing just two passes and his back-up had only thrown 8 career passes going into this game, but I'm going to choose not to go down that path which I admit is not the way I would have predicted I'd go.  But I mean, of the top 50 athletes/players in that game the Gophers had 49.  They also had the two best quarterbacks and probably three if Philip Nelson had gotten into the game.  Is it impressive they beat New Hampshire?  No.  Is it impressive they beat them by 37?  No, not really.  Is it a sign that maybe the program is finally moving back towards respectability after Brewster tried to kill it, perhaps intentionally?  Well, that's the way I'm going to choose to interpret this.  As Bob Wiley once said, "Baby-steppin."  And also "New Hampshire??!!??"
2nd best Bill Murray movie of all-time

- Suck it, Wisconsin.  Awesome.  Just awesome.  Sea-son's-ov-er *clap clap clap-clap-clap*.   Not only did they lose already this early in the season, but they lost to a Pac-10 team, and as everybody knows the Pac-10 sucks at everything that matters.  Seriously, nobody cares about fencing or water polo, but congrats on winning whatever that thing is called that goes to the school that wins the most total championships to you Stanford.  Way to rock at discus.  My favorite part of Wisconsin losing is how Danny O'Brien, who was supposed to be all like Russell Wilson 2.0 and come in with an established pedigree of being awesome but taking advantage of the transfer rules in order to make Wisconsin a National Title contender just sucked.  Completed just 20 of 38 passes - and a couple I saw were just awful throws (not MarQueis Gray vs. UNLV awful, but plenty awful).  Who am I kidding, I didn't have a favorite part.  The whole thing was my favorite part.  Iowa losing to Iowa State was just the gravy on the thanksgiving taters.

Interestingly, I don't feel nearly so gleeful about the Packers losing.   Yeah they lost at home but it was to another Super Bowl contender and they could easily rip off 15 straight wins now and probably will because why not, whereas Wisconsin is now doomed.  DOOMED!  Hopefully the basketball team is this shitty too, and they should be considering they'll be relying on Jared Berggren and Josh Gasser, but then again I'm pretty sure we've been here with the Badgers before.  That deal with the devil Bo Ryan made has to be expiring soon, right?

-  Three potential future Gopher hoopsters visited campus this weekend, including watching the Gophers thrash New Hampshire.  The visitors, in no particular order:
  • Cedric Hankerson, a 6-3 shooting guard from Miami who is unranked by either Rivals or ESPN.  Also holds high major offers from Oklahoma State and Virginia Tech, as well as a smattering of offers from smaller nerd schools like Penn, Boston U., and Brown.  Smart kid who had a 25 on his ACT and comes from a basketball family (dad is all-time assist leader at Hampton or Wagner I forget which, brother played at Alabama and is now at Wyoming) so he's probably got a good basketball IQ, which would be sweet if the Gophers were putting together a team for the Knowledge Bowl.
  • Gavin Schilling, a 6-9 center who also comes from a basketball family as he's the younger brother of former Gopher Shane Schilling and Cody Schilling, Gavin is unranked at Rivals and comes in at a 79, good enough for three stars, according to ESPN.  His best offers are from Illinois, Kansas State, and Vandy.  Notable that he is attending Findlay Prep this year, the same school where Gopher recruits Devoe and Cory Joseph attended.  You know, the guys where one would rather reduce his senior season by half rather than stay at the U and the other who never came here at all.  Fingers crossed you guys.
  • Nigel Hayes, the most highly regarded of the group, is a power forward from Ohio who ranks as the 100th best recruit in the class of 2013 according to ESPN and gets 3-stars from Rivals.  He's also being chased by Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Stanford, although his brother played football for the Buckeyes but just transferred so I'm not sure what that means.  His post game is ok but needs work, however he's already got a jumper out to 19-feet and is athletic, although he needs to gain strength.
So there you go.  Pretty underwhelming.  Other than Hayes, who would be a great get with Mbakwe graduating, these other two guys would just be depth which is fine sometimes however I'm pretty sure that would describe this year's incoming class as well and when you do that too many years in a row you end up as Penn State.  No thanks.  I'm starting to wonder if they're going to sign anyone at all.

-  I was going to put some NFL stuff in here too but I gotta say something for the rest of the week.  Plus I spent most of Sunday at Chuck E. Cheese, so what do I know?

Friday, September 7, 2012

Gophers Week 2 Preview vs. New Hampshire

Is it happening again?

It might be.  Although last week's game against UNLV was too close for comfort, at least they did actually win.  I was at the game and there was a pretty fantastic turn out.  It turns out Gopher fans like to gamble and drink and possibly visit the chicken ranch.  If you think Gopher fans are apathetic you should see the UNLV fans.  Attendance was reported at 16,013, approximately 5,000 of which were Gopher fans.  It SEEMED like it was half and half with Minnesota faithful being much louder.  Then again, I started the morning with a jimmy buffet and a pitcher of bloody marys and never looked back. 

There were bright spots beyond the win in the game.  Both lines played pretty well, the running game was solid, the secondary looked pretty good including Derrick Wells earning both the B1G and National defensive player of the week awards.  Some wise blogger said in his week 1 preview that this game would be too close for comfort and it isn't because the Gophers aren't more talented, because they are.  The combo of  traveling to the west coast, playing primetime and on a Thursday night certainly caused their fair share of nerves.  Many of MarQueis Gray's passes looked like me after 3 hours of tailgating.  He was often overthrowing receivers and he was lucky to only have one interception in the game.  Receivers were frequently open deep, a couple of times Gray saw them and threw a rocket ship right over their heads.  These missed passes were what allowed UNLV to hang around and make this a game.  UNLV was ready to roll over and die from the beginning, but they were allowed to hang around.

Anyway, that's over and we WON.  Northwestern and Iowa had some close scrapes too.  Michigan got Bama'd and Penn State got stomped by the Ohio Bobcats. 


Next on the schedule is a home game against the University of New Hampshire Wildcats.  The super original Wildcats moniker features a mascot named "Wild E. Cat".  UNH has about 15,000 students.  The students are 57% female!  Famous alumni include Carlton Fisk, Chip Kelly, some hockey players and the second vetrinarian in space.  UNH is also the alma mater of George O'Leary.  It is the place where he famously "resume padded" his way to 3 letters at a school where he never played a game, thus pissing away the head coaching job at Notre Dame.  Then Mike Tice hired him as the DC for the VIkings for a couple of years before he moved on to the University of Central Florida.

New Hampshire doesn't appear to be your typical FBS cream puff.  First off, they run a fast spread offense that is a carryover from when Chip Kelly (you know, the visor guy at Oregon) was OC from 99-06.  This may affect the Gophers defense rotations as ther may not be time to rotate subs in as easily as last week. 

More bad news comes in the form of UNH's recent history against FBS opponents.  Since 2004, they've beaten Rutgers, Northwestern, Marshall, Army and Ball State.  They lost to Pittsurgh in 2010 and were stomped by Toledo in 2011.  This doesn't appear to be a team that is blinded by the bright lights and big cities of their more well known opponents.  They are #14 or so in the FCS.

The Coaching Staff

Head Coach Sean McDonald has been with the Wildcats for 14 years, the last 8 of which he's made the FBS playoffs. "Playoffs?" /mora  He also has 8 years as an assistant at New Hampshire.  He graduated from New Hampshire.  Listen, this guy really likes New Hampshire, ok?  DC John Lyons enters second season with the Wildcats, and is formerly the HC at Dartmouth.  OC Ryan Carty enters his first year as OC, but has been with the team for 6 seasons.  He's the young buck on the staff, but I bet McDonald and Lyons could both whip his ass because of their old man strength.

Sean Goldritch, CAA Rookie of the Week!

The Offense

As mentioned, UNH runs "the speed spread" which relies on a lot of receivers and a quick passing game.  The Gophers once again face a redshirt freshman trigger man in Sean Goldritch (6'3", 205).  Goldritch was 21-31 in his first career start, throwing for 193 yards.  He added a team high 71 yards rushing on 10 carries.  Sophomore WR RJ Harris appears to be the main target after going for 12-102 receiving.  He also added 57 yards on the ground.  He earned the FCS Golden Helmet, which I guess is like the player of the week.  So, Gopher defense, keep an eye on #15.  Jimmy Owens, Chris Setian, and Nico Steriti all ran for TDs last week against Holy Cross. Setian and Steriti each had 12 carries.  Something called Joey Orlando also had 100+ and 2 TDs receiving.

The key for the Gophers on D is going to be strong tackling and pressure from the defensive line.  The spread involves a lot of quick passes. With 4 and 5 receivers out on the field, it sometimes only takes one tackler to miss for a huge gain.  Since the passes are quick, it often takes the d-line out of the picture, so they need to get their hands up and if there's any hesitation by Goldschlager they need to make him pay.  This is a great type of game for the raw, bear-like strength of Ra'Shede Hageman as collapsing the pocket can really affect these throws.  The linebackers have the unenviable task of helping out in coverage and watching for the QB run or draw play. 

Finally, a key to stopping the offense will be the fans making noise.  Some grumpy old dudes will have to put down their walkers to get up and cheer a bit.  Allegedly, New Hampshire only used 300 of it's allotted 3000 visiting tickets, so Gopher fans have the opportunity to make a big impact on how well this no huddle/sugar huddle type offense runs. 5,500 freshman were given free tickets to fill up our anemic student section, so hopefully they make some noise in between trips to the beer garden with fake IDs. (Don't get arrested, you guys.)

The Defense

The defense is led by linebacker Matt Evans who had like a billion tackles last year (see really old video above) and was the FCS defensive player of the year.  Senior CB Dontra Peters is a convert from RB and had an interception against Holy Cross; as did Junior S Manny Asam.  Peters also returns kicks.  Junior CB Chris Houston led the team in interceptinos with 6 last season.  Senior LB Alan Buzbee had about half of the tackles Evans had with 88 last season.  Junior Chris Beranger was second on the team with 142 tackles.  Senior Jared Smith is a stalwart at defensive tackle.

This is another game where the level of  execution for the Gophers is what is most important.  Sure, these guys have lots of tackles and decent stats against the Richmond Spiders and Holy Cross Crusaders, but 60 minutes of the Gophers o-line SHOULD grind them to dust.

The Prediction

The first quarter is going to be hugely important in this one.  I get the impression that Sean Goldritch won't flounder around at QB like Nick Sherry did last week.  The Gophers' running game is a key because it will give the defense much needed rest.  Again, this is a situation where the Gophers have the better players;  the bigger, stronger athletes.  This could be another big game for Derrick Wells as he'll have plenty of opportunity to make big plays, as will the other members of the secondary.  In the end, despite solid play from New Hampshrie the Gophers will have just too much:  Gophers 34 - Wildcats 24

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

My 10 Predictions for the NFL season

1.  Dez Bryant is going to be a monster.  Seriously.  Physically he's one of the most gifted wideouts in the league.  Everybody knows most WRs breakout in their third season, and his first two years (45/561/6 and 63/928/9) point two a guy who is figuring it out (on the field, at least).  Dude may be a mess at times, but assuming he doesn't do something stupid like bringing a pound of weed through airport security or beating up a fan for making mom jokes and getting suspended he's going to be huge.  I'm talking 90/1,400/12 this year.  Of course, Tony Romo completely sucks donkey balls so it's possible he's too scared to throw it down field and just dinks it to Miles Austin and those TEs all the time, in which case I'd put the odds at 50/50 of Bryant blowing up Romo's car.

2.  Ryan Williams will be one of the better backs in the league.  He has to beat out Beanie Wells first, but let's be honest here that's not really going to be a problem. Williams was an absolute monster for Virginia Tech for two years, breaking the Va Tech single season rushing record and the ACC single season TD record, before the Cardinals took him early in the second round of the 2011 draft.  He then destroyed his knee on his first carry in his first preseason game, which is why Arizona fans and football fans in general were subjected to another year watching fatass Wells fall down again and again.  Williams is a threat to score every time he has the ball.  Wells is a threat to become the next Lendale White.  Of course, Williams also missed all of last year and the second half of his final college season due to injury so he's got a bit of china doll syndrome possibly going on so maybe everyone will get lucky and get to watch Wells again.  Joy!

3.  The Falcons are going to miss the playoffs.  Way way way way way too much hype here, and whenever that happens the results are generally in the exact opposite direction.   Matt Ryan is going to throw for 2 billion yards with Julio Jones and Roddy White both somehow catching for 1.5 billion apiece!  Jacquizz Rodgers is the next NFL super star!  Michael Turner will be rejuvenated by this holy crap passing offense!  Please.  Worst nicknamed player ever Matty Ice hasn't won anything, Michael Turner is going to Shaun Alexander this year, and Rodgers isn't the kind of runner who can be a feature back.  Atlanta won't be able to run this year, which means Ryan is going to have to throw a ton and even if his (and those wideouts who I confess are pretty damn good) stats look great he's also going to throw 40 interceptions.  Plus their defense sucks.  Everyone is going to feel stupid at the end of the year when they suck except me because I'm right, and then you're going to acknowledge me as your god.

4.  Percy Harvin is going to have a break out season.  No, he's not going be like Dez Bryant or anything, but Harvin should finally break the 1,000 receiving yards barrier and probably hit 100 catches.  You can see it coming if you're a Vikes fan who's been watching him for three years, but just to put some quantitativeness to the qualitativeness - from week 7 forward last year (which is when Christian Ponder) took over, Harvin touched the ball 100 times which was the most in the NFL.  Second place was Wes Welkerbury with 76.  Yeah, Ponder digs him some Percy.  He does get more touches than most WR due to the lining up in the backfield he does, particularly once AP went down to injury but even prior to that he was averaging more than 3 rush attempts per game.  Looking forward to this.

5.  Antonio Gates will break TE records.  I know everyone is all over Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham as the world's greatest tight ends - and rightly so because they had the two best seasons by a TE ever last year - but don't forget about Antonio Gates, who is primed to have an even better season that either of those two did last year.  You know Philip Rivers is going to throw for a whole bunch of yards just as sure as you know he's going to cry at least once this year, but who gets those yards?  Vincent Jackson is gone (#2 in catches last year).  Mike Tolbert (#3) is as well, and Vincent Brown (who was supposed to ascend to their new #1 WR) is out half the season with an injury.  That leaves Malcom Floyd (please) and Gates as your two main targets, and Antonio is finally healthy again after two injury plagued seasons where he still managed to average 57/780/8.  Before getting hurt he had the best 1.5 seasons of his career, and everything points to a career year for him - expect him to break 1,400 receiving yards, a new TE record.

6.  Andrew Luck will be better than Robert Griffin III this year.  Seems like 95% of opinions I've read on these two say Luck will have the better career but RG3 will be better this season.  Well I think Luck's better in both cases.  Nobody argues he's the more polished QB already, so the other two factors would be if Luck struggles to pick-up the offensive scheme and if RG3 had markedly better weapons surrounding him, but I don't see it in either case.  Luck basically called his own plays at Stanford, a team run by a "cerebral" former QB type like Jim Harbaugh (and by cerebral I mean in comparison to blockheads like Brad Childress) so I don't think he's going to majorly struggle with any system he's asked to run.  And as far as weapons, both Indy and the Skins are a mess at RB although I'd give the edge to the Colts based on at least having a clear idea of who is going to get the majority of the carries, and I'll take Reggie Wayne/Austin Collie over Santana Moss/Pierre Garcon every time.  What am I missing?  Clear advantage to Luck.  Also garcon means boy.

7.  The Chiefs are going to suck.  I have no idea why it seems everyone is picking these guys to win the AFC East this year.  None at all.  They're horrid.  The have three good offensive players and two play the same position and were both hurt all or most of last year (fun fact:  Jamaal Charles' middle name is Rashaad - that's a lot of a's), and the other one is Dwayne Bowe who is likely to end up shooting himself in the leg or getting suspended after buying weed in Mexico.  Matt Cassell might very well be the worst starting QB in the league, and the Chiefs have one of the worst pass defenses in the entire NFL going up against the pass happy Chargers (6th in passing yds last year) and Raiders (11th and should be even better) and a team that just upgraded from Tim Tebow to Peyton Manning.  Speaking of which....

8.  The Broncos will win their division.  Yes, I'm on board the Peyton train.  I kind of have to be since I drafted him like 15 years ago in our inaugural keeper league draft and have held him since, but I truly believe he can make a huge difference for Denver.  Demaryius Thomas has all the skill to be a lead WR and Eric Decker has both the game and the smarts to become Peyton's #1 target or at least a 1b to Thomas's 1a.  That offense should be good enough to put up some points, and that hyper aggressive defense (big on sacks and turnovers, low on actual stops) could turn for the better.   I'd feel better if I had heard of anyone on their offensive line and if their running back was someone better than Willis McGahee, but I feel pretty safe putting my blind trust in Peyton Manning and Champ Bailey.  Especially if this was 2003.

9.  The Saints are going to the Super Bowl.  Seems to me like everybody is ignoring the Saints, and I rarely hear them come up when postseason stuff is talked about.  In fact I don't think anyone on ESPN picked them to make the Super Bowl, but you best believe they'll be there.  They have the best QB on the planet (or #2 after Rodgers) who has a whole mess of weapons to throw too, and while most teams with three running backs have a mess on their hands they have three guys who would all start in many NFL situations.  That offense is straight up sick.  And you don't think that defense is going to be playing with a major chip on their shoulder?  Don't forget if this team doesn't see Alex Smith miraculously morph into Joe Unitas they're probably in the Super Bowl last year (they would've beat the Giants, I promise).  Now take that same basic team (oh no, Robert Meachem left!) and add a big ole steamy plate of gritty emotions?  They'll be there.  Other playoff teams:  NY Giants, Packers, 49ers, Lions, Eagles, Broncos, Texans, Pats, Ravens, Steelers, and Chargers.  And your champ.....

10.  The Ravens will win the Super Bowl.  That's right, I'm backing Joe Flacco.  I think we've got a perfect storm here.  A young QB coming into his own with an offense being revamped to take advantage of his talents and a WR (Torrey Smith) coming into his own right along with him.  Maybe the best offensive weapon in the game (Ray Rice) and one of the best defensive players (Haloti Ngata).  Veterans who can still play who know this might be their last shot (Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Matt Birk, Anquan Boldin).  And, similar to the Saints, you've got a team here who was very close to making the Super Bowl last year (if Lee Evans catches one more pass they're in) and has done very little tinkering.  Terrell Suggs injury is a bit of an unfortunate wrinkle, but so is your face.

HONORABLE MENTION:  Others who will be awesome - Eli Manning, Jay Cutler, LeSean McCoy, Chris Johnson, Matt Forte, Steven Jackson, Carson Palmer, Marshawn Lynch, Brandon Marshall, Hakeem Nicks, Marques Colston, Greg Olsen, David Wilson, Mark Ingram, and Brandon Pettigrew.  Those will suck - Cam Newton, Mike Vick, Darren McFadden, Arian Foster, Frank Gore, Ahmad Bradshaw, every Lions RB, Jordy Nelson, Victor Cruz, Miles Austin, Steve Johnson, and Vernon Davis.