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Potential QB Battle in Oakland Intrigues

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November 9, 2015


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If Teddy Bridgewater is recovered from a concussion and can play next Sunday in Oakland there will be an interesting matchup between two of the NFL’s promising young quarterbacks.  Derek Carr, 24, was taken in the second round by the Raiders in 2014 while the Vikings selected Bridgewater, 22, in the first round of the same NFL Draft.

Teddy Bridgewater (Photo courtesy of Minnesota Vikings)

Teddy Bridgewater (Photo courtesy of Minnesota Vikings)

Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said this afternoon at his press conference that Bridgewater has passed his first concussion clearance test but as the week progresses it will be determined whether his quarterback is recovered from the blow he took in yesterday’s win over the Rams.  “I think he’ll be good to go (Sunday),” Zimmer said.

Six writers gave their opinions last month about top quarterback prospects 25 and younger.  In addition to Carr and Bridgewater (he turns 23 tomorrow), the list included Blake Bortles, 23, Marcus Mariota, 21, and Jameis Winston, 21.  In the October 20 article Bucky Brooks, Nate Burleson, Maurice Jones-Drew, Steve Mariucci, Deion Sanders and Ike Taylor were asked to identify the quarterback they would choose to build a franchise around.

Four of the six chose Carr, with two others picking Bridgewater. “Derek Carr reminds me a little of Brett Favre,” Mariucci wrote.  “He’s got a little grit to him and a certain toughness. He’s a natural-born leader and has all the intangibles. …”

“Teddy Bridgewater is my choice for a franchise quarterback,” Brooks wrote.  “He’s the one with the most complete skill set, and he has the intelligence, confidence and leadership you look for in a young QB.  From a physical standpoint, he can make all the throws at the short and intermediate range, but he can be a little spotty on deep throws. …”

Carr and Bridgewater had comparable seasons as rookies.  Carr had more passing yards, 3,270, and touchdowns, 21, than any other first-year quarterback in 2014.

Bridgewater’s numbers were 2,919 yards and 14 TDs.  Carr had a passer rating of 76.6 while Bridgewater’s number was 85.2.

Bridgewater was voted by fans as the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year.  He started 12 games to Carr’s eight and had a slightly better passing completion percentage, 64.4 versus 58.1.  The Vikings also had a 7-9 record while the Raiders were 3-12.

After week nine of this season Bridgewater is way behind Carr in stats including passer rating, 83.4 versus 104.3.  Carr has 19 touchdown passes and only four interceptions while Bridgewater’s numbers are six and six.  Carr has led an improving Raiders team that is playing .500 football at 4-4.  The Vikings are a surprise team too with a 6-2 record.

No doubt Bridgewater’s priority for next Sunday is just to get on the filed.  Then it’s helping the Vikings win another game but if he plays you can be sure fans and media will be comparing him with Carr.

Worth Noting

Adrian Peterson, who rushed for 125 yards yesterday in the Vikings win against the Rams, now leads the NFL in rushing with 758 yards.

It’s a sad legacy that former Vikings defensive players Wally Hilgenberg (2008 death), Orlando Thomas (2014) and Fred McNeill (several days ago) all died from ALS.  Hilgenberg died at 66 years old, Thomas at 42 and McNeill was 63.

Although Gophers head coach Jerry Kill said he had seizures prior to the days before announcing his resignation last month, a Sports Headliners source wasn’t aware that any of the seizures were witnessed by his players.  Another source said Kill and his wife Rebecca were in Florida last week.

Do a Google entry typing the name Tracy Claeys and among the first search words that come up is “wife.”  Claeys, the Gophers interim head football coach who turns 47 on Christmas Day, is single.

A lot has been written about next year’s Gophers schedule with East Division powers Michigan and Ohio State going off the schedule, but what’s not noted much is the Big Ten will have each team playing nine conference games instead of eight and Minnesota will be on the road for five of them.  East Division bottom feeders Maryland and Rutgers replace Michigan and Ohio State on Minnesota’s schedule.

The Gophers will play Illinois, Maryland, Nebraska, Penn State and Wisconsin on the road.  Coming to Minneapolis will be Iowa, Northwestern, Purdue and Rutgers, plus home nonleague games with Colorado State, Indiana State and Oregon State.

Glenn Caruso

Glenn Caruso

St. Thomas (9-0, 7-0 MIAC) secured an automatic bid to the NCAA playoffs and share of the conference championship by crushing Carleton (1-8, 0-7 MIAC) 80-3 last Saturday.  Coach Glenn Caruso told Sports Headliners he doesn’t talk about wins and losses with his players, but instead emphasizes best effort and execution.  That’s chapter-and-verse coaching philosophy from the approach of legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden.

Caruso is a Wooden admirer and refers to him as the “greatest coach of the last century”—a master teacher who understood human nature and motivation.  Among Caruso’s favorite resources is Wooden’s classic book They Call Me Coach.  “I’ve read it seven or eight times,” he said.

Caruso dialogues almost daily with St. Thomas men’s basketball coach John Tauer who has a doctorate degree in social psychology.  He refers to Tauer as “one of the smartest men I know.”  The two coaches live within 10 houses of each other in St. Paul.  “I draw a lot of vision from our conversations,” Caruso said.

Despite fan speculation, there appears no possibility the Twins will ask first baseman Joe Mauer to become a catcher again.  The club needs catching help and there is a logjam of players who can play first base, third base and the outfield.  Manager Paul Molitor, talking on KFAN Radio with “The Common Man” and Mark Rosen last Wednesday, said he is interested in having slugger Miguel Sano do less designated hitting next season and instead play a position in the field, perhaps in the outfield.

While some preseason listings have placed several Big Ten teams in their top 25 rankings, the November 9 Sports Illustrated college basketball issue included only three league teams—No. 5 Maryland, No. 14 Indiana and No. 15 Michigan State.  The ACC had four schools in the top six with No. 1 North Carolina, No. 4 Duke and No. 6 Virginia.

Ironically, coach Richard Pitino’s Gophers (2-0 in exhibition games) open their regular season at home on Friday night against UMKC, the program whose coaching staff included Andre McGee until he resigned late last month.  McGee has been a focal point in allegations about a sex scandal involving the Louisville men’s basketball program where Pitino’s father Rick Pitino is head coach. The Kansas City, Missouri based school and team opens its schedule with a home exhibition game tonight against Hawaii Pacific.

The 3-2 Timberwolves, who play the Hawks in Atlanta tonight, are 3-0 in road games—the first time in 13 years the franchise has done that. The 2001-2002 team won its first four games of the season away from home.  The Wolves didn’t win their third road game last season until January 13.

Wolves point guard Ricky Rubio is averaging 9.2 assists per game—second best in the NBA behind the Thunder’s Russell Westbrook at 10.9.

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David Shama

David Shama is a former sports editor and columnist with local publications. His writing and reporting experiences include covering the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Gophers. Shama’s career experiences also include sports marketing. He is the former Marketing Director of the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL. He is also the former Marketing Director of the United States Tennis Association’s Northern Section. A native of Minneapolis, Shama has been part of the community his entire life. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he majored in journalism. He also has a Master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas. He was a member of the Governor’s NBA’s Task Force to help create interest in bringing pro basketball to town in the 1980s.

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