Local

Reusse: Gophers football heads in right direction — the West

Star Tribune Sports - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 22:37
Reshuffling of Big Ten division did U a huge favor.
Categories: Local

Wolves working on their threes

Star Tribune Sports - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 22:35
Flip Saunders has only given the green light to ‘six or seven’ to shoot it.
Categories: Local

Hartman: Vikings miss Cassel more than other stars

Star Tribune Sports - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 22:27
His experience would have been helpful in bringing along QB Teddy Bridgewater slowly.
Categories: Local

'King of spring' Tampa Bay meets reality of fall; Vikings up next

Star Tribune Sports - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 21:52
Buccaneers’ free spending has resulted in one win.
Categories: Local

The Wild's Jared Spurgeon: Big in stature if not in size

Star Tribune Sports - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 21:24
Defenseman Jared Spurgeon, all 5-8 of him, continues to make a lasting impact for the Wild
Categories: Local

Success on game-changing plays keeps eluding Illinois football

Star Tribune Sports - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 20:40
By botching those opportunities, the Illini has gone 1-18 in the Big Ten in the past three years.
Categories: Local

Resting the vets for tonight's game in Milwaukee

Star Tribune Sports - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 19:08
Rookie Wiggins and veterans Brewer, Martin, Turiaf and Williams all sitting out tonight's game
Categories: Local

TFD: Softer upcoming pass defenses mean its time for Vikings' Bridgewater to make his mark

Star Tribune Sports - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 17:42
All it takes these days is two bad games by a rookie quarterback to make us question whether he is going to be the right guy to lead a team for the next decade. We freely admit we have some concerns about Teddy Bridgewater at this point — most of them similar to what Patrick Reusse wrote recently, in that he doesn’t seem to do one thing, physically, great. Instead, Bridgewater will be relying on intangibles, which largely means football intelligence mixed with poise and presence. After three NFL starts, he’s not there yet — nor should he be. But we should also note this: those last two starts, which have been struggles, have also been against two of the best defensive lines the Vikings will face all season. Detroit and Buffalo get hellacious pressure, and the Vikings’ offensive line is a mess. Both the Lions and Bills rank among the NFL’s top five in sacks and interceptions. What does that mean? Well, when it comes to appraising Bridgewater’s early work, it means we also need to give some credit to the opponent. He carved up an awful defense (Falcons) in his first start. And in his next three games, he’ll face: *Tampa Bay, which has just nine sacks this season and is averaging 295 passing yards per game, worst in the NFL (hello, Leslie Frazier, my old friend). *Washington, which has just three interceptions this season while allowing 15 TD passes (both stats put them among the 10 worst NFL pass defenses). *Chicago, which does rank eighth in sacks (with 19) but is allowing 8 yards per pass attempt — 28th in the league. Sure, the Vikings and Bridgewater will have to beat better defenses at some point to prove they are legitimate. But these next three games should be an opportunity for Bridgewater to gain some proficiency, yardage and confidence. On the flip side, if he still struggles in this stretch … well, then some of the concern will gain legitimacy, even if it is still very early in his tenure.
Categories: Local

Charlie Coyle signed to 5-year, $16 million extension

Star Tribune Sports - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 17:00
The Wild winger is the second of the Wild's young core to sign in the past few weeks
Categories: Local

Motion to remove judge from Adrian Peterson's case denied

Star Tribune Sports - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 16:53
Texas Judge Kelly Case will remain, possibly clearing way for Dec. 1 trial.
Categories: Local

Gophers seventh-most likely team to make college football playoff, says U of Wisconsin statistical model

Star Tribune Sports - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 15:53
An associate professor in the engineering department at the University of Wisconsin has created a statistical model that is VERY favorable to your Gophers football team (and not the Badgers, by the way). Laura McLay’s “Badger Bracketology” is an attempt, she says, to forecast which four teams will make the inaugural college football playoff this season. The methodology, at a glance: I start with the outcomes of the games played so far, starting with at least 8 weeks of data. This is used to come up with a rating for each team that I then rank. The ranking methodology uses a connectivity matrix based on Google’s PageRank algorithm (similar to a Markov chain). So far, I’ve considered three variants of this model that take various bits of information account like who a team beats, who it loses to, and the additional value provided by home wins. I used data from the 2012 and 2013 seasons to tune the parameters needed for the models. The ratings along with the impact of home field advantage are then used to determine a win probability for each game. … My method is simple, but it gives us everything we need without being so complex that I would be suspicious of overfitting. McLay actually uses three models, with 10,000 replications for each one. The most useful tool is the “ensemble,” which takes the average of the three models. This is the first week for which the model has churned out projections for the playoff. It starts off about as expected, with Florida State as the most likely, followed by Mississippi, Mississippi State and then Alabama. Next you find Georgia, then Notre Dame and then … Minnesota. Yes, the Gophers are No. 7 in the model right now. That is to say, they are the seventh-most likely team to reach a four-team college football playoff for a national championship. Seventh. Yes, that’s right out of the money. But it’s so close to the money. They’re ahead of Michigan State (No. 8), while Wisconsin is nowhere to be found in the top 25. Much of the season is yet to be played. So much can happen. But just know that, as of now, a simulation from the University of Wisconsin says things are looking good for the Gophers. H/T: Fasolamatt.
Categories: Local

McKinnon showed improvement in pass protection

Star Tribune Sports - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 15:51
When you have a conversation with Jerick McKinnon about how he feels he is playing, the topic of pass protection inevitably comes up. Since the day he was drafted, McKinnon has been acutely aware of how pass protection, or a lack thereof, would affect how often he is put out on the field. Having played in a triple-option offense at George Southern, lining up at quarterback for much of that time, the rookie running back admitted right away that he didn’t do much pass blocking and that it was something he would need to continually work on to be trusted as a third-down back here. Of course, the loss of Adrian Peterson meant that the Vikings would need him to be more than that. And while McKinnon has impressed as a runner, averaging 5.1 yards per carry, and as a receiver, with 16 catches through seven games, pass protection has been an area in which he has struggled. McKinnon was used as a pass blocker on 24 snaps this season, according to Pro Football Focus. They say he was beaten for a pair of sacks and allowed five other pressures. After crunching those numbers, Pro Football Focus concluded that McKinnon has been the league’s leakiest back in pass protection. The two sacks and seven pressures allowed both rank as the most among his peers. The majority of those pressures came in the loss to the Lions, but McKinnon took a step in the right direction against the Bills, when he didn’t allow a single pressure in his five snaps as a pass blocker. McKinnon’s improved performance in that area caught the eye of Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer. “Jerick has played well. I thought he did better in pass protection last week,” Zimmer said today.
Categories: Local

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