Gophers Football Year in Review

We select the Gophers game of the year, player of the year, look into the future for the players to watch and the players who find a job at the next level.

GAME OF THE YEAR: Wisconsin 41, Minnesota 34 — Bitter rivals traded big plays and huge momentum swings in their 117th meeting. The Badgers were double-digit favorites, but it was nip-and-tuck until the final minute. Adam Weber passed for 352 yards and three touchdowns and Eric Decker caught six passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: QB Adam Weber — The redshirt freshman quarterback set a host of single-season school records and led the team in rushing. His 19 interceptions were excessive, but he gave Gophers fans reason to believe that he can be a standout in the new spread offense down the road.

FAST FORWARD: The Gophers won one game, so it's hard to figure things could get any worse. The team loses some valuable leadership and will be young again next season. It might be unrealistic to think the 2008 team can reach a bowl game. That might not happen until 2009, the team's first season in its new on-campus stadium.

PLAYERS TO WATCH IN 2008: QB Adam Weber — The redshirt freshman gained valuable experience in his first season as a starter. It came with the typical highs and lows, but he made steady progress and showed real signs that he can thrive in the spread offense. He needs to work on his timing and accuracy. Weber is a confident player who also led the team in rushing with 617 yards.

WR Eric Decker — The sophomore is a bona fide star. He should be among the best at his position in the Big Ten next season. He finished with a school-record 67 catches for 909 yards, which tied for the fifth-highest total in school history.


WR Ernie Wheelwright — He has all the physical tools but his focus and consistency have been readily questioned. He had a strong senior season and finished his career third in school history career receiving yards (2,434), second in career receptions (163), second in TD catches (26) and fourth with six 100-yard receiving games.

SS Dominique Barber — Should get all-Big Ten consideration after being one of the few bright spots on an otherwise bad defense. The brother of Dallas Cowboys RB Marion Barber, "Dom" is a sure tackler and hard-nosed competitor. He could be a valuable special-teams player in the NFL.

C Tony Brinkhaus — Made the transition from tackle to center two years ago and has performed admirably. He's a smart player and physical run blocker who likely projects as a guard in the NFL.

ROSTER REPORT: TB Jay Thomas will have surgery to repair a torn ACL but is expected to be ready for fall camp. His was the only major injury for Minnesota this season.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Does it bother me? Absolutely it bothers me because I'd like for these kids to experience success more than they did this season. Does it shock me? Absolutely not. Change is a tough, hard process. I went into this with my eyes open, totally understanding what it is I was looking at. It is what it is. We're going to fix it. We're going to work very hard to fix it." — Gophers coach Tim Brewster on his thoughts on a 1-11 season.

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