Reusse's Reality Script: Episode 1 (Joe Webb)
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1 - Normally astute sportswriters, former players such as Benchwarmer Bob Lurtsema and rabid fans have attempted to put some of the blame on offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave for the Vikings' 24-10 loss to Green Bay on Saturday night.
The theory goes that Musgrave should have come up with a plan to take advantage of Joe Webb's running skills, once the possibility existed that he would be forced to start this first-round playoff game in place of sore-elbowed Christian Ponder.
The example used to support the Musgrave criticism was that the running combination of Adrian Peterson and Webb allowed the Vikings to march for a field goal on the game's opening drive.
The Packers adjusted quickly to this, with a defense dedicated to take away the edges from Peterson -- where he had destroyed the Pack in two earlier games -- and to dare Webb to throw rather than to run.
There's no evidence to suggest Webb has any adeptness for making the right decisions on an "option-read'' offense ... or that Peterson would approve getting a large share of his runs in that manner rather than the taking the straight handoffs that had earned him 409 yards in two previous games vs. the Packers.
Also: To expect the Vikings to spend a big hunk of practice time on the option read last week, in the rapid run-up to the Packers' rematch and with Ponder the week-long favorite to start at quarterback ... basically, ridiculous.
The Vikings were outclassed on Saturday, and that would've been the case with Ponder (or, this is good one -- Sage Rosenfels) at quarterback, as it was with Webb.
Aaron Rodgers and the Packers put it in neutral after taking a 24-3 in the third quarter, worrying more about time on the clock than adding points to the scoreboard.
If the Packers had kept pressing the issue, they would have scored in the 30s, and there was nothing an "option read'' attack with Joe Webb could have done about that.
2 - The Goldyheads have been slow to endorse my idea: An annual season opener between the Gophers and North Dakota State:
One year, Minnesota is the home team at TCF Bank with the Bison receiving a below market value check. The next year, the opener is played in the Taj Ma Zygi (set to open in 2016), with NDSU as the home team and the two teams splitting the gate.
"There's no advantage to that for the Gophers,'' shout the Goldyheads.
There's plenty of advantage. First, it's a regional opponent, and a hell of a lot more interesting than a game with New Hampshire or any other Division 1AA team. Second, you fill the stadium, whether it's the little house on campus or the big house to be built a mile away on the Metrodome site.
And third, and here's the reality: If the Gophers can't beat NDSU, they are going to be losers in the Big Ten in the season head, so who gives a damn other than the cowardly scheduler, Jerry Kill?
3 - Nelson Whitmore came to Hamline in 2007 and went to work trying to bring some success back to the Pipers' once-mighty program. He has done that that to an extent, while his MIAC counterparts have grumbled among themselves grumbled that Whitmore was operating on the edge with his recruits.
Earlier this week, Eugene Lawrence, an 18-year-old freshman, was charged with punching a 20-year-old woman at the Hamline team hotel in Spokane, Wash. She was knocked out, suffered fractures in her face, and police were called shortly before 4 a.m.
Lawrence was arrested, charged and then sent home. He's been suspended and tossed out of school. Fourteen other players were suspended, along with Whitmore. Hamline forfeited Saturday's MIAC game to Gustavus.
All in all, this was the moment that Whitmore and the Pipers looked to have lost their footing on that edge the coach had been walking.
4 - Contrary to reports elsewhere, former Gophers assistant Gordie Shaw is not yet a finalist to be the head football coach at St. Olaf. That's because St. Olaf has not finalized a list of preliminary interviews from among its applicants, much less chosen its finalists.
There is a strong contingent of football alums that would like to see Mike Aldrich, a former Ole player and assistant, get the job. That would make for an interesting twist:
Aldrich was fired at Augustana (S.D.) and replaced at the Division II school by Jerry Olszewski, the St. Olaf coach for the past five years.