In-Depth Story in The Athletic: After a trying 2020 on and off the field, Minnesota returns an experienced roster with something to prove

BleedGopher

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per Scott:

What others are saying about Minnesota

One Big Ten defensive assistant broke down the Gophers’ offense and provided context to the team’s 2020 issues.

“I don’t know that Minnesota ever quite got it rolling because of the ups and downs that came with COVID,” the assistant said. “I think some of that was just what they were going through last year, not to mention COVID, but just the city in general and trying to get their feet on the ground and develop some consistency. They had really all the same parts that they had from the previous year.

“I do think Tanner Morgan’s a good quarterback. They will always have a run game that will support the quarterback. They’ve got a unique running game. They run an inside zone play that we’ve had to rename. It’s in a different category than just your typical inside zone the way that Iowa would run the inside zone. And that play action off of that run scheme, it can get guys to bite in there.

“The running back (Ibrahim) is damn good. Damn good. And the offensive line is always going to be really good with Brian Callahan, their offensive line coach. He is well respected. He doesn’t try to do a whole lot. They know what they want to master, and they’re going to try to master it.”


Go Gophers!!
 

short ornery norwegian

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Bleed - With all due respect - what the bleep is the point of linking to a story when that story is behind a paywall?

I'm not going to get a subscription to The Athletic just to read one article.

As far as I'm concerned, either cut-and-paste the entire story, or don't link to it.

the excerpt made me want to read the entire article, and now I can't. Waaaah!
 

BleedGopher

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Bleed - With all due respect - what the bleep is the point of linking to a story when that story is behind a paywall?

I'm not going to get a subscription to The Athletic just to read one article.

As far as I'm concerned, either cut-and-paste the entire story, or don't link to it.

the excerpt made me want to read the entire article, and now I can't. Waaaah!

65% of sites are now behind a paywall, including the Star Tribune, Pioneer Press, etc. Some have a few free articles a month, some offer a few free paragraphs (like the link above) and some don't offer anything free.

I don't have enough time to know which sites each GH'er has a subscription to. If there's a link, I'll post it. If someone doesn't have a subscription, I figure they just move on. In this instance I put The Athletic in the subject assuming those without a subscription wouldn't click the link and if they did, they wouldn't post in the thread.

I'm 0/1 in my assumption.

Go Gophers!!
 


bamor5229

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Thanks, Bleed. Don’t have a subscription but the teaser is enough for me to decide whether it’s worth it to pay for. Appreciate all the scrubbing you do to find Gopher content. 👍
 


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Editor’s note: This is part of a continuing series previewing the Power 5 and top Group of 5 teams for the 2021 college football season.

With his campus located only a handful of miles from where George Floyd was murdered and COVID-19 battering his squad throughout the fall of 2020, Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck had to deal with more than just player departures from an 11-win team in 2019.

Every day brought new questions, difficult answers and uncertainty in all aspects of football and life, from wondering if the Gophers even would play to whether it mattered anyway. Amid those challenges, that Minnesota managed a 3-4 record with two overtime losses taught Fleck that his team’s character and resiliency was beyond reproach.

“Major adversity does two things in your life: It either pulls you apart, or brings you together,” said Fleck, who begins his fifth season with the Gophers. “That’s what it does, especially in a team format. I think this team had to deal with so much being that BLM and social justice and George Floyd was right here in the Twin Cities on top of the pandemic.

“Someone asked me the question the other day: ‘Who was your biggest mentor through 2020?’ And I said, ‘My team.’ I’ve never learned more from a football team than I learned from my team last year. And I hope they felt the same way in return. I think we’re closer than we’ve ever been as a team. It was a year that I don’t think anybody will ever forget, and that change has to happen. Period. And it has in our world.”

There were rough spots on the field, no question. Minnesota gave up 49 points in the season opener to Michigan and needed a touchdown with 14 seconds left to avoid a shutout against Iowa. Maryland rallied from a 17-point fourth quarter deficit to beat the Gophers in overtime. But when faced with the most impossible odds of all, Fleck’s troops pulled off one of his greatest coaching victories.

After a two-week layoff because of COVID, Minnesota was down 35 players (including several starters) when it traveled to Nebraska. Still, the Gophers dictated the game’s tempo, held the Cornhuskers to just one second-half field goal and ran out the final 4:42 with eight consecutive running plays to win 24-17.

“We were really close to canceling that game,” Fleck said. “The Big Ten gave us the green light to play. Internally it looked like you couldn’t because you had 35 players out, but if you could find a way to get on that field, our kids wanted to play. We weren’t worried about just the win or the loss; we were worried about playing.

“People ask me all the time, like that Nebraska game, how important was that? That’s a top-three win I’ve ever seen in my career and for all the reasons that have nothing to do with just football. It has to do with the type of team we have, and the type of team we have moving forward and what they were able to accomplish when everybody basically said there’s no way they get this done.”

The grit Minnesota displayed in the Nebraska victory and the following week in an overtime loss at Wisconsin has Fleck, his staff and the players believing in a carryover effect. A woefully inexperienced defense flopped in the first month but improved late in the season. It now has enough depth and new additions to mask some of its 2020 deficiencies. Tanner Morgan returns for his fourth season at starting quarterback and seeks a return to his 2019 form. Running back Mohamed Ibrahim, who was named the Big Ten’s top running back in 2020, ranked second nationally in rush yards per game and also comes back. Minnesota boasts perhaps the nation’s deepest and most experienced offensive line.

All of those factors lead Fleck to believe 2020 was an adversity-filled speedbump — not a crater — and his 2021 team is poised for a continuation from an 11-2 campaign in 2019.

“I love that we have high expectations,” Fleck said. “I get paid to win, and I get all that. But there were a lot of other things way more important than just winning a football game in 2020. Our team realized that, I realized that, we realized that together and we did everything we could to be the best we could be. We hit every obstacle head on, and we weren’t afraid to do that.”

Roster analysis​

Quarterbacks: Tanner Morgan had a season for the ages in 2019 with 30 touchdown passes, only seven interceptions and 3,253 yards while completing 66 percent of his passes. Last year, those numbers fell off dramatically with seven touchdowns, five interceptions and a 57.9 completion percentage.

There were plenty of contributing factors for the senior Morgan (6-foot-2, 215 pounds) slumping from potential Heisman candidate to the Big Ten mid-pack. The Gophers had a new offensive coordinator in Mike Sanford and lost key wide receiver Tyler Johnson to the NFL draft. The Big Ten’s late start, coupled with the lack of preparation, disrupted the rhythm of nearly all of the league’s passing attacks, not just Minnesota.

“If you look at the offenses in general in the Big Ten, there wasn’t a lot of continuity with personnel,” Sanford said. “There were some challenges just to find that synergy, the route timing, throwing to consistent receivers. I think Tanner did some really good things. He grew a lot. I think he’s going to be even better this year because of it.”



Tanner Morgan threw a touchdown pass in six of his seven starts last season. (Jesse Johnson / USA TODAY Sports)
“We have high expectations of our quarterback,” Fleck said. “We have high expectations of Tanner. Tanner is an incredible competitor — just like all of our quarterbacks — and we’ll continue to keep that standard incredibly high. I know he does for himself, and he’s gotten a lot better in the offseason.”

Zack Annexstad, a redshirt junior, is an experienced backup. He started seven games in 2018 before an injury forced him to the sidelines. He and Morgan were set for a major battle in 2019 before a season-ending injury in training camp cost Annexstad (6-3, 220) and elevated Morgan.

Running backs: Few, if any, players were as productive as Mohammed Ibrahimwithout garnering the All-American validation. Ibrahim (5-10, 210) finished with 1,076 yards and 15 rushing touchdowns at 5.4 yards per carry in just seven games last year. Ibrahim’s 153.7 yards per game and 2.1 touchdowns per game were the tops among Power 5 running backs.

Ibrahim, a senior, had a chance to pad his statistics but declined when individual accolades collided with team goals. With his team facing third-and-6 at the Nebraska 18-yard line inside of two minutes, Ibrahim hit the turf after a 12-yard gain rather than score an easy touchdown. That decision allowed the Gophers to run out the clock for the win.

“He’s one of the best players in college football. Period,” Fleck said. “It doesn’t matter where he plays, what conference he is in. He is one of the best players in college football, one of the smartest players in college football and he’s one of the best teammates you could ever ask for. When you have that combination, you’ve got a really dangerous player.”

To maximize Ibrahim’s effectiveness, the Gophers have three other running backs who will spell him. They include sophomores Cam Wiley (6-2, 210) and Treyson Potts (5-11, 200) and junior Bryce Williams (6-0, 210).

“We’ve got four backs, and really even more behind them, which makes me really excited about what that group can be from a diversity standpoint, different types of attributes and skill sets,” Sanford said. “But, also, we got to spell Mo more.”

Wide receivers/tight ends: In consecutive years the Gophers have lost two of the Big Ten’s top receivers. This time, it was Rashod Bateman, who landed as a first-round pick with the Baltimore Ravens. That leaves the Gophers with one experienced threat in senior Chris Autman-Bell (6-1, 215) and plenty of talented, but unproven, complementary receivers. Autman-Bell caught 22 passes for 430 yards last fall.

“I have no doubt in my mind that Chris Autman-Bell has the mentality to be the guy,” Sanford said. “Really for him, it starts with a mindset of, ‘If the ball is in the air, I’m going to find a way, and I’m going to will myself to come down with that football.’ That’s who Chris is, and I think that Chris has always been that guy. But now his opportunities are going to continue to increase.

“We’re not going to be just like, 1-A and 1-B and it’s just like Chris and maybe one other guy. We’re going to be more varied, and I guess more level in terms of the distribution of targets.”

Multiple receivers will have a chance to play alongside or opposite Autman-Bell. They include senior Clay Geary (5-10, 200), sophomore Daniel Jackson(6-0, 200), sophomore Mike Brown-Stephens (5-11, 195), sophomore Texas A&M transfer Dylan Wright (6-3, 215), freshman Lemeke Brockington (6-0, 195), and freshman Brady Boyd (6-1, 185). Other than Autman-Bell, Jackson is the only returning receiver who caught more than five passes last year.

At tight end, Minnesota primarily will use a combination of senior Ko Kieft(6-5, 265) and junior Brevyn Spann-Ford (6-7, 270), both of whom are coming off injuries. The Gophers’ tight ends totaled seven catches for 82 yards last fall.

“We’ve got to get more production from the tight end position,” Sanford said.

Offensive line: The only teams that can match Minnesota’s experience up front play on Sundays. The Gophers have five returnees with at least 13 career starts and two others that combine for 15. Five players with significant experience enter either year five or six with the program.

Conner Olson (6-5, 310) and Sam Schlueter (6-6, 325) are sixth-year players with 45 and 34 career starts, respectively. Olson has opened between 14 and 16 games apiece at all three interior positions. Schlueter is the team’s left tackle.

With 33 career starts, Blaise Andries (6-6, 335) can play almost anywhere up front, while fellow fifth-year senior John Michael Schmitz (6-4, 320) is slated for center. The Gophers welcome back fourth-year juniors Daniel Faalele (6-9, 400), a two-year starter at right tackle who opted out last year, and guard Curtis Dunlap Jr. (6-5, 345), who was injured last year. They combined for 32 starts. Also, fifth-year senior Alex Ruschmeyer (6-4, 305), has opened six games during his career.

“We’ve got to utilize that depth in creative ways,” Sanford said. “You’ve got to utilize that depth in keeping eight, nine guys that are very, very good football players involved. The next step is for us to be a dominant offensive line in the run game and the pass game.”

Fleck said the unit could have four selections in the 2022 NFL Draft.

“We have one of the most experienced offensive lines, maybe one of the biggest offensive lines, in the country,” Fleck said. “We’re going to have multiple ways to get the best players on the field and best players on the field doesn’t always mean the quarterback to the wideout to the running back. It could mean up front.”

Gophers returning production
CATEGORYPERCENT RETURNINGTOP RETURNER
Pass yds99%Morgan, 1.374
Rush yds99%Ibrahim, 1,076
Rec63%Autman-Bell, 22
OL starts100%Multiple, 7
Tackles96%Sori-Marin, 47
TFLs100%Mafe, 5.5
Sacks100%Mafe, 4.5
Ints100%Multiple, 1
Defensive line: The Gophers struggled against the run and pass last year, which has led the staff to hit the transfer portal at defensive tackle. Minnesota signed Clemson’s Nyles Pinckney (6-1, 290) and N.C. State’s Val Martin (6-1, 300) — both grad transfers — to help at least for rotational purposes. They’ll join former Notre Dame transfer Micah Dew-Treadway (6-4, 315), sophomore DeAngelo Carter (6-2, 310), sophomore Logan Richter (6-4, 340) and sophomore Rashad Cheney (6-2, 290) at defensive tackle.

Senior Boye Mafe (6-4, 265) at times looks like a dominant pass rusher at defensive end but needs to improve on overall consistency. Mafe led the Gophers with 4.5 sacks last year. Seniors Esezi Otomewo (6-6, 285) and former linebacker Thomas Rush (6-3, 245) will see plenty of action either opposite Mafe or rotating with him. Sophomore M.J. Anderson (6-3, 280) also should see double-digit snaps per game.

“Boye has a chance to be one of the better pass rushers in the league,” Minnesota defensive coordinator Joe Rossi said. “He put up really good numbers last year. We want to see him improve in the run game and kind of take his game to the next level. But we’re excited about him.”

The extra numbers should help with depth up front, which is critical when facing slam-ball Big Ten West teams like Wisconsin and Iowa.

“I think that eight-to-10 mark is really good,” Fleck said of his line rotation. “I feel like for the first time since we’ve been here that we have that number.”

Linebackers: Perhaps no unit struggled as much as this one last year, partly because of attrition and also because of injuries. Senior Mariano Sori-Marin(6-3, 245) led the Gophers in tackles and will be joined by 2019 starter Braelen Oliver (6-0, 235), a junior who missed last season. Working in with them likely will be graduate senior Jack Gibbens (6-3, 245) from Abilene Christian. In his career, Gibbens totaled 258 tackles, 22.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks and five interceptions.

“As a unit we didn’t play well, and that’s the position I coach,” Rossi said. “We had one guy that had played defensive snaps going into last year, which was Mariano.

“Now you’ve got Mariano back. You added Jack and Braelen was a starter for us in ‘19. So you have him back. You have Jack now, who was a four-year starter at Abilene Christian with a 4.0 GPA undergrad. Super intelligent, big, physical, super excited about him. Now you have three guys that have been starters.”



Mariano Sori-Martin led Minnesota with 54 tackles in seven games last season. (Douglas DeFelice / USA TODAY Sports)
Sophomore Cody Lindenberg (6-3, 235), Donald Willis (6-2, 215) and D.J. Gordon IV (6-1, 230) saw plenty of action as freshmen and should push Gibbens and Oliver for playing time this year.

Defensive backs: Minnesota has plenty of room for improvement in defending the pass, and true freshman Justin Walley might provide immediate help. Walley (5-11, 185) enrolled early and showcased the kind of skills to elevate him to significant playing time at cornerback.

“I think he’s going to be one of the most talented corners in college football eventually,” Fleck said.

Joining Walley at corner includes sixth-year returnee Coney Durr (5-1, 200), redshirt freshman Miles Fleming (5-11, 180), senior Phillip Howard (5-11, 195) and senior Terell Smith (6-1, 215). Senior Jordan Howden (6-0, 210) likely will start at one safety spot, while a competition among junior Tyler Nubin (6-2, 205), senior Calvin Swenson (6-1, 215), and sophomore Michael Dixon (6-2, 210) should determine the other starter.

“The outside will probably say it’s a weakness,” Rossi said. “I got to see spring practice. I’m excited about the group. Again, is someone going to step in and be (third-round draft pick) Ben St. Juste next year? Probably not. But we have guys that can play.”

Special teams: The Gophers hit the transfer portal at both kicker and punter this offseason. At kicker, Minnesota signed Matthew Trickett, a two-time All-MAC performer at Kent State. Trickett (6-0, 195) connected on 47 of 57 field goals and all but one of his 95 extra-point attempts in three seasons. He scored 235 points. Four different players, including Mafe, attempted field goals or extra points last year.

Sophomore Daniel Sparks (6-6, 200), who averaged 44.6 yards per punt last year at Louisiana-Monroe, is the favorite at punter. Sparks will battle sophomore Australian native Mark Crawford (6-5, 220), who averaged 37.8 yards a punt last year for the Gophers.

Howard was the team’s primary punt returner last year, while a combination of Ibrahim, Wiley, Potts and Autman-Bell brought back kickoffs. All of them return.

What others are saying about Minnesota​

One Big Ten defensive assistant broke down the Gophers’ offense and provided context to the team’s 2020 issues.

“I don’t know that Minnesota ever quite got it rolling because of the ups and downs that came with COVID,” the assistant said. “I think some of that was just what they were going through last year, not to mention COVID, but just the city in general and trying to get their feet on the ground and develop some consistency. They had really all the same parts that they had from the previous year.

“I do think Tanner Morgan’s a good quarterback. They will always have a run game that will support the quarterback. They’ve got a unique running game. They run an inside zone play that we’ve had to rename. It’s in a different category than just your typical inside zone the way that Iowa would run the inside zone. And that play action off of that run scheme, it can get guys to bite in there.

“The running back (Ibrahim) is damn good. Damn good. And the offensive line is always going to be really good with Brian Callahan, their offensive line coach. He is well respected. He doesn’t try to do a whole lot. They know what they want to master, and they’re going to try to master it.”

How the Gophers have recruited from 2018-2021​



Fleck has elevated the Gophers’ recruiting from the mid-50s in most years under the Jerry Kill-Tracy Claeys regime to an annual top-40 class. In the 2021 cycle, the Gophers approached top-25 status until four-star Omaha (Neb.) cornerback Avante Dickerson chose not to sign in December and officially decommitted about a week before the February signing date. Dickerson picked Oregon.

Still, Fleck’s aggressiveness on the recruiting trail has upgraded Minnesota’s standing with recruits, and the program has become more competitive with regional foes. The Gophers also hit Georgia, Florida and Texas with regularity. Considering the COVID-19 restrictions on visits and in-person communication, Fleck was especially proud of how the staff held together the 2021 group.

“We were able to dive into this class we brought in last year,” Fleck said. “It was a really special group, a really special class. At one point, it would have been a top-25 class. I mean, one kid determined whether we were in it or out. But that was the top-25 recruiting class. That’s the highest-ranked class we’ve had at Minnesota, and it was during a pandemic.”

Transfers to know​

The Gophers largely kept its team intact from 2020, losing only three transfers. The biggest departure was receiver/tight end/short-yardage quarterback Seth Green, who had played multiple roles for the Gophers. Green was lethal around the goal line with 15 rushing touchdowns and three scoring tosses over three seasons. He transferred to Houston to focus on tight end exclusively.

Minnesota loaded up with three transfers hoping to shore up a run defense that gave up 207.1 yards on the ground (102nd nationally) and 6.3 yards per carry (124th). Pinckney recorded 93 tackles in four seasons with 15 starts in 55 games at Clemson. Martin compiled 29 tackles in 22 games at N.C. State.

At linebacker, Gibbens was a glue-and-guts player for Abilene Christian. He collected 104 tackles, including 8.5 for loss, in the Wildcats’ 2019 season. In six games last fall, Gibbens recorded 49 tackles with 2.5 for loss, recovered two fumbles, intercepted one pass and blocked one kick.

Wright, a former four-star recruit, landed with the Gophers after playing in eight games over two seasons with Texas A&M. Trickett and Sparks came to Minnesota from Kent State and Louisiana-Monroe, respectively.

Impact of coaching changes​

Fleck stood pat this offseason with his coaching staff after losing offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca to Penn State in 2020. The Gophers were among the nation’s worst-ranked teams in most defensive categories, but Fleck opted to stick with Rossi and bank on improvements after losing several core veterans following the 2019 season.

“It’s a phenomenal staff,” Fleck said. “There were so many circumstances last year. It had nothing to do with coaches, nothing to do with the players, nothing to do with any of that. So how can you truly evaluate that when you go through a pandemic that no one’s been through? You go through the social injustice we went through as a city and a state together. There were way more important things than football.

“I know what our staff can do. I love our defensive staff, I love our offense staff, I love special teams. I love our people we have in this organization. We were two overtimes from being 5-2, and no one’s saying anything.”

Schedule analysis​

DATEOPPONENTSITE
Sept. 2 (Thu) Ohio StateHome
Sept. 11 Miami (OH)Home
Sept. 18
team-logo-251-50x50.png
at Colorado
Road
Sept. 25 Bowling GreenHome
Oct. 2
team-logo-200-50x50.png
at Purdue
Road
Oct. 9IDLE--
Oct. 16 NebraskaHome
Oct. 23 MarylandHome
Oct. 30
team-logo-199-50x50.png
at Northwestern
Road
Nov. 6 IllinoisHome
Nov. 13
team-logo-201-50x50.png
at Iowa
Road
Nov. 20
team-logo-189-50x50.png
at Indiana
Road
Nov. 27 WisconsinHome
The Gophers face four-time defending Big Ten champion Ohio State in both teams’ opener in primetime at TCF Bank Stadium. No matter what happens that night, it won’t define Minnesota’s season. What will make it — or break it — are three other schedule segments and especially the final three games.

Following the opener, Minnesota has a four-game stretch that includes road trips to Colorado and Purdue. Those games will provide a reasonable assessment of the Gophers’ trajectory. After a bye, Minnesota plays a four-game stretch with Nebraska, Maryland and Illinois at home wrapped around a journey to Northwestern. This grouping will determine whether the Gophers are a West Division contender or merely a bowl contestant.

Minnesota wraps up its season at Iowa, at Indiana and then at home against Wisconsin. The Gophers haven’t won at Kinnick Stadium since 1999 or at home against the Badgers since 2003. To earn a trip to Indianapolis, Minnesota needs to claim at least one of those rivalry games without slipping up against the Hoosiers.

“You’ve got to be able to set yourself up to win something in November,” Fleck said. “Championships are won in November — they are — but you’ve got to set yourself up to be in that position by finding ways to win, and knowing how to win the game.”

Final assessment​

Two areas largely will shape the Gophers’ season: run defense and quarterback play. Morgan was outstanding in 2019 with a pair of NFL receivers catching passes. If he can return to a similar level and elevate the passing attack, Minnesota will be formidable on offense. The running game should be one of the nation’s best.

But defensive improvement is what will determine the legitimacy of the Gophers’ divisional title aspiration. The Gophers cannot allow anything near 6.9 yards per play again and expect to reclaim either Paul Bunyan’s Axe or Floyd of Rosedale, let alone win the division. It’s unlikely to trim that number to even top-20 status nationally, but if the Gophers can get it inside 5.3 yards per play coupled with a passing game resurgence, they will compete with their West Division rivals. Barring a major collapse, Minnesota should earn a bowl spot.
 

WriterGoph

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Note: some of us actually pay for the Athletic since we value quality sports writing. Very surprised that SON - who I'm nearly certain is a high school sports writer - is raising hell about good content behind a paywall.

If you know the Athletic is a pay site, don't click on the link if you don't want blue balls.

Bleed, thanks for everything you do on the site.

PS. If you care about more longer-form sports content, the Athletic is very well worth the monthly fee.
 
Last edited:

BilldGopher

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Even without going behind the paywall I knew more than I knew without Bleed's post. Any further is a personal choice.

This has come up before on GH over the years. As always thanks Bleed for what you do (even if incomplete disclosure from behind paid content).

The Billds have the digital subscription to the Strib...and the weekend paper versions too...but generally people wlling to pay for this type of content is declining over time.

We don't pay for anything much beyond the Strib and Comcast...so it would be nice for the Strib at least to give the Gophers more ink. It is better but frankly Sid was a significant source of info...and now that is gone.

RIP Sid.
 




SixBySix

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Special teams: The Gophers hit the transfer portal at both kicker and punter this offseason. At kicker, Minnesota signed Matthew Trickett, a two-time All-MAC performer at Kent State. Trickett (6-0, 195) connected on 47 of 57 field goals and all but one of his 95 extra-point attempts in three seasons. He scored 235 points. Four different players, including Mafe, attempted field goals or extra points last year.
Well, I definitely missed that one...
 

short ornery norwegian

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Thanks to UU for posting the story. For the record, I work in radio.

This is a sore point for me. More and more sites are going behind paywalls, including small town daily and weekly papers. I was looking for results from a volleyball tournament, and wound up paying $1 for a 1-day subscription to a weekly paper just to get the info I was looking for. (because coaches won't report their scores....but that's a different rant....)

I do subscribe to the online version of the Strib, but not the Athletic. On my income, you have to make choices.
 

A_Slab_of_Bacon

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The internet is a rough town.

Everyone wants to 'pay' for content with just their eyeballs and gets annoyed when they have to pay.... but eyeballs don't pay for most sites / content...

I wish there was a good solution.
 





WriterGoph

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Hopefully the Athletic dedicates more resources to Gopher football this year. If it's a good season, I believe they will. From the Penn State game on in 2019, they had some great stuff. They had at least 3 great pieces just on the Penn State game that the Strib (or any traditional paper) would never have space for.
 

Ogee Oglethorpe

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Note: some of us actually pay for the Athletic since we value quality sports writing. Very surprised that SON - who I'm nearly certain is a high school sports writer - is raising hell about good content behind a paywall.

If you know the Athletic is a pay site, don't click on the link if you don't want blue balls.

Bleed, thanks for everything you do on the site.

PS. If you care about more longer-form sports content, the Athletic is very well worth the monthly fee.
Well put. The Athletic kind of went out on a limb a few years ago to go to the current format; a pay site for sports content and they put out very, very good content for a ton of sports teams, pro and college. They are clearly stronger in some areas and for some teams than they are for others, it obviously depends on who they can get on board to cover certain beats.

They may not be super strong for Gopher sports sometimes but for sports in general, I think it's a fantastic site for the most part. How they handle their comment sections has some major f'ng holes that they need to tighten up and they have a tendency to drift a little bit in certain regards (who doesn't nowadays) but the site generates a ton of great, in-depth content. I'd recommend to sports fans in general, it's only a couple of bucks a year for cryin' out loud. SON, I'd be glad to buy you a subscription if you'd like
 

skyman31

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Agreed on the Athletic being a great source of content. Watch for a time when they post a subscription discount (which is often) and it’s only a couple dollars a month. I have 5 30 day guest passes that I’m not going to use if someone wants to give it a try.
 

FireDaveLee

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I subscribe to TheAthletic....feel that it is worth it.

I scoff at paying a nickel for the Star Tribune, and feel the same way with so many going behind a paywall. But I do feel that if you paid for TheAthletic, you'd feel that you'll be getting your money's worth.
 

hungan1

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I subscribe to TheAthletic....feel that it is worth it.

I scoff at paying a nickel for the Star Tribune, and feel the same way with so many going behind a paywall. But I do feel that if you paid for TheAthletic, you'd feel that you'll be getting your money's worth.
What's the cost of an annual subscription?
 


SanDiegoGopherFan

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I remember when we paid to read the pioneer press at home or had to subscribe to a magazine or pay to watch cable news….now too many ppl want this for free. Most newspapers regulate how many articles you can read now, when they first went online that wasn’t the case.

those that complain about paying for someone’s work, you should try workin for free.

unless you’re a top media source, a la ESPN, CNN, FOX, etc, there not enough advertising money for local or sport specific outlets to give away their content.
 

hungan1

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I remember when we paid to read the pioneer press at home or had to subscribe to a magazine or pay to watch cable news….now too many ppl want this for free. Most newspapers regulate how many articles you can read now, when they first went online that wasn’t the case.

those that complain about paying for someone’s work, you should try workin for free.

unless you’re a top media source, a la ESPN, CNN, FOX, etc, there not enough advertising money for local or sport specific outlets to give away their content.
It had already been a few years back when the StarTribune laid off over 200 folks. One of the bank tellers shortly after that time was working for the paper. He said that news sprint media was unsustainable with advertisement income moving to digital. So, yes pay for the subscription if you are serious about additional relevant sports content. Some folks depend on you.
 

Unregistered User

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So, yes pay for the subscription if you are serious about additional relevant sports content. Some folks depend on you.
So...we should pay for (what I currently consider) a sub-par product, in the hopes that additional revenue will be converted into a better product?

Or should the onus be on the company to create a better product that people would be willing to pay for?
 


hungan1

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So...we should pay for (what I currently consider) a sub-par product, in the hopes that additional revenue will be converted into a better product?

Or should the onus be on the company to create a better product that people would be willing to pay for?
It's a free country to pay or not to pay at your own discretion. No one talks about yellow journalism anymore. There's hardly anyone to police it.
 

WriterGoph

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I've never read it, but it sounds like the majority of people consider The Athletic to be above average content...

The Athletic has hired a ton of the best writers away from some of the top newspapers in the country and a lot of good folks who were at the top of their game previously at ESPN. Jayson Stark is an example in the MLB world. Locally, Jon K (who forever was the AP writer for the Twin Cities and now does Wolves for the Athletic) and Michael Russo (nobody covers the Wild better) are great examples. For the Twins, Wolves and Vikes, the Athletic has two dedicated writers per team, which include Britt Robson and Aaron Gleeman (who have a ton of Wolves and Twins knowledge respectively).

If you're just going for Gophers coverage, they aren't there yet. But for programs and markets that have the readers, the Athletic has dedicated college guys for those specific beats. Hopefully with more interest in the Cities, they'll beef up what they do with the U.
 

skyman31

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The Athletic has hired a ton of the best writers away from some of the top newspapers in the country and a lot of good folks who were at the top of their game previously at ESPN. Jayson Stark is an example in the MLB world. Locally, Jon K (who forever was the AP writer for the Twin Cities and now does Wolves for the Athletic) and Michael Russo (nobody covers the Wild better) are great examples. For the Twins, Wolves and Vikes, the Athletic has two dedicated writers per team, which include Britt Robson and Aaron Gleeman (who have a ton of Wolves and Twins knowledge respectively).

If you're just going for Gophers coverage, they aren't there yet. But for programs and markets that have the readers, the Athletic has dedicated college guys for those specific beats. Hopefully with more interest in the Cities, they'll beef up what they do with the U.
Yeah it’s not great for the gophers, but the minnesota pro sports coverage is unmatched. The style of the writing is what really appeals to me, with longer articles, different approaches using different stats and analytics, or in depth looks at the personalities behind the scenes of pro teams. It feels like the writers have more freedom to tell a story rather than a
fill-in-the-template summary. It feels so much different than the copy/paste recap articles which circulate espn and other major news articles, which all end up saying the same thing in slightly different words. Maybe that style isn’t for everyone, but I really enjoy it.
 

fmlizard

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Agree with those who like The Athletic. I subscribe and have for a couple years. It's worth the price for me since they have quality Cubs and Vikings coverage too.
 

GFBfan

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I started a free trial of The Athletic to read the Mark Parrish story. Was very well done by Russo and convinced me to get a subscription which I don’t regret. Not a ton of Gopher stuff yet but the pro stuff is of great quality
 





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