MadTown Badgers: Nine-Point Play(ers) for Week 13
Minneapolis? More like MINNEAP-LOL-IS.
This week, I am choosing to feature the Golden Gophers’ offensive line because they think they can pull a page out of the late 90’s Wisconsin teams’ books and pound the opposing defensive line into submission on their way to victory. That’s all fine and dandy, and it may even work – until you play the originators of the scheme. Wisconsin has been there, done that. The Badgers still pound teams into submission for days. It’s cute that Minnesota is emulating the scheme that Wisconsin has used for years. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, after all.
Apologies in advance for the shortened article this week. I’m typing with one hand because I had shoulder surgery late last week, and it’s not a whole lot of fun. The painkillers also make typing an adventure. Fear not, loyal reader. I am saving my energy for this weekend.
REFRESHER: Article Background/Basis
It’s impossible to score nine points on one play in football. A touchdown directly leads to an extra point (7) or two point conversion attempt (8), but there is no way for the offense to score three points on a post-touchdown conversion.
Let’s critique nine humans on the opposing team that will either try their hardest to, or be in the best position to score/prevent nine points on one play this week. No guarantee that these eight players and head coach will be an important/relevant factor in the game, but it’s hopefully going to give you some insight about players other than some #hotsportstake.
(1) Philip Nelson: Quarterback, Sophomore. Height: 6-3 Weight: 215
Nelson, #9, is technically a graduate of Mankato West High School in Minnesota, but many Badger fans will rightly consider him a traitor. Nelson grew up in Madison and was an avid Badgers fan before moving to Minnesota and flipping his allegiance to the Golden Gophers. He burned his redshirt last season before the game at Wisconsin and made his first career start in Madison. In that game, he completed 13-of-24 passes for 149 yards and two touchdowns and rushed 16 times for 67 yards.
(2) David Cobb: Running Back, Senior. Height: 5-11 Weight: 225
Cobb, #27 was not listed on Minnesota’s season-opening depth chart. However, the junior leads the Gophers in rushing through 10 games this season with 942 yards on 175 carries. His seven touchdowns tie him with Mitch Leidner for the team lead. Cobb has five 100-yard games this year (career-high 188 yards at Indiana was most by a Gopher since Amir Pinnix went for 206 against Michigan State in 2005). Cobb also rushed for 138 yards on 31 carries (most for a Gopher running back since Pinnix ran 34 times against Texas Tech in 2006) against Nebraska. Cobb needs 58 more yards this year to become Minnesota’s first 1,000-yard back since Pinnix, who rushed for 1,272 yards in 2006.
(3) Ed Olson: Left Tackle, Redshirt Senior. Height: 6-7 Weight:309
Olson, #58, is the starting left tackle for Minnesota. He has been injury-plagued for the past few seasons; he missed four straight games last year due to injury and missed four straight games this season for another injury. When healthy, Olson is one of the Golden Gophers’ best linemen. He started eight games at the all-important left tackle position as a redshirt freshman and has made that his home ever since.
For someone that is 6-7 and weighs 309 pounds, Olson seems to wear his weight well. His player profile picture does not suggest that he is a chubber like you would expect from an offensive lineman.
(4) Zac Epping: Left Guard, Redshirt Junior. Height: 6-2 Weight: 320
Epping, #52, has played in every game for the past two-plus seasons. The redshirt junior is also a Wisconsin native, hailing from Kenosha. He was a Wisconsin Football Coaches’ Association (WFCA) All-State player as a high school senior, and this preseason he was rated as the 19th-best player in the Big Ten. Furthermore, Phil Steele put in on his 2013 Preseason All-Big Ten Fourth Team. Epping has a nasty streak that you need to have as an offensive lineman. He received back-to-back personal foul penalties during the Gophers’ bowl game against Texas Tech last year, which helped turn a third-and-4 in to a third-and-49. It remains to be seen whether he still has any pent-up aggression toward Wisconsin for not recruiting him harder.
(5) Jon Christenson: Center, Redshirt Sophomore. Height: 6-4 Weight: 305
Christenson, #63 took over the Center position from Epping this season and has looked pretty good in doing so. It’s interesting to note that Christenson was not named to any all-region or all-state teams as a high school player (according to his player profile, anyway) but he has managed to have an immediate impact at Minnesota. Some players are late bloomers, I suppose. It is also easy to be overlooked in high school when your team isn’t very good – Christenson’s team was only 5-5 his senior year. He played in ten games as a redshirt freshman, starting six of those games, and was able to competently play both center and guard.
(6) Foster Bush: Right Guard, Redshirt Sophomore. Height: 6-5 Weight: 305
Bush, #77, is a Wisconsin native that started his first game last week when Caleb Bak missed a game due to injury. There’s no word as to whether Bush will start against his home-state team this week, but I included him because he’s from Wisconsin and he has a really interesting/unfortunate name. In his defense, he is pretty good. He played in seven games last year as a redshirt freshman – he missed the other six games due to injury – and he was named an Academic All-Big Ten performer. This season, he has seen most of his playing time on special teams, but he has played on offense a fair amount. I bet that he will see the field on offense this Saturday in garbage time with Wisconsin up three touchdowns.
(7) Josh Campion: Right Tackle, Redshirt Sophomore. Height: 6-5 Weight: 325
Campion, #65, is the final offensive lineman that I will profile this week, and he looks like a mix between a Duck Dynasty character and a lumberjack. His profile picture is intimidating. The Minnesota native spent a post-graduate year at Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy before redshirting his freshman season at Minnesota.
I wonder why he chose to go the prep-school route… he was an all-state player in 2009 and was one of the ten finalists for Minnesota’s Mr. Football award. Some people just need that extra year to learn some discipline, mature a little bit, and get academics in order. I don’t know if any of these three things were the reason why Campion went to Virginia for a year, but Minnesota sure is glad to have him back. Last year, as a 20-year-old freshman, he started every game at right tackle as the Gophers made their way back to a bowl game.
(8) Ra’Shede Hageman: Defensive Tackle, Redshirt Senior. Height: 6-6 Weight: 310
Hageman, #99, is Minnesota’s best defensive player and a legitimate NFL prospect. He was named to more preseason award watch lists than I care to count, and was also named to a lot of Preseason All-Big Ten teams (usually the First Team.) Although he doesn’t have ridiculous tackle totals, he plugs up the middle and makes life miserable for offensive linemen. That’s what great defensive tackles do. They rarely put up great stats. Instead, they occupy multiple blockers and allow linebackers to have great stats.
One thing that sets Hageman apart from other defensive tackles is that he is an accomplished pass rusher. Last season he played second on the team with six sacks to go along with his 35 tackles. Over the past four years, Hageman has made the switch from tight end to defensive tackle look easy, appearing in 43 out of 47 games while helping the defense become respectable again.
(9) Jerry Kill: Head Coach, 3rd Year. 2012 Record: 6-7 (2-6) At Minnesota: 17-18 Total: 144-91
Kill has been an absentee coach for the majority of this season after suffering two seizures. He announced on Oct. 10 that he would take a leave of absence to focus on epilepsy treatment. He has also fought – and defeated – kidney cancer.
Despite his health scares, Kill has been successful everywhere he’s coached. He led Northern Illinois to a 10-3 record in his third season after taking over a team that was ranked as one of the ten-worst team in the nation before the 2008 season. He took over Tim Brewster’s mess in Minneapolis and led the Golden Gophers to a bowl game in his second season, which was an amazing feat given the bare cupboards he inherited.
Vegas Line: Opened at Wisconsin -14.5; currently Wisconsin -16
Paul’s Pompous Prediction: Wisconsin 35, Minnesota 13