New-look offense, same old Weber

The junior quarterback is putting up numbers remarkably similar to his record-setting 2007 campaign.

Austin Cumblad

Junior quarterback Adam Weber is well on his way to becoming the most prolific passer in Minnesota football history. ItâÄôs no surprise. Just five years ago, the Gophers offense was based around Laurence Maroney and Marion Barber III. In 2004, Minnesota averaged 256.8 rushing yards per game; Maroney and Barber both averaged over 100 yards . Who needs passing with two future NFL players in the backfield? Enter head coach Tim Brewster and offensive coordinator Mike Dunbar in 2007. Dunbar was renowned as a spread offense guru and MinnesotaâÄôs offense shifted quickly from run- to pass-centered. DunbarâÄôs first and only pupil was Weber, a redshirt freshman at the time. Though the Gophers would suffer through a 1-11 season, Weber set school single season records in pass completions (258), attempts (449), yards (2,895) and touchdownâÄàpasses (24). He also threw 19 interceptions. Flash forward to 2009 and Weber is MinnesotaâÄôs career record holder for completions and attempts and is 640 yards shy of the career passing yards record and 11 touchdowns shy of the career touchdown pass record, both of which are currently held by Bryan Cupito, and both of which Weber should surpass easily. The offense has a different look in 2009. Dunbar and the spread are out; Jedd Fisch and a pro-style, multiple-set offense are in. The Gophers want to run the ball better than they did in 2007 and 2008, and they want Weber in the pocket, not carrying the ball downfield. Though FischâÄôs schemes are nothing like DunbarâÄôs, WeberâÄôs 2009 numbers through five games are eerily similar to his 2007 statistics. He recorded 241.2 passing yards per game in 2007, 230 in 2009; 57.5 percent completion rate in 2007, 57.2 in 2009; a 120.8 passing efficiency rating in 2007, 122.9 in 2009. HeâÄôs thrown six touchdowns in 2009 but matches that with six interceptions. The errant passes that plagued him as a redshirt freshman still creep in from time to time; heâÄôs been sacked 11 times already this season and, as a result, looks justifiably uncomfortable in the pocket at times. âÄúObviously he needs help,âÄù Brewster said after the GophersâÄô loss to Wisconsin on Saturday. âÄúHeâÄôs got to be protected and we didnâÄôt do as good a job of protecting him at times.âÄù But if Weber is sometimes still prone to mistakes, Brewster is confident that no one works harder to correct those mistakes. âÄúHeâÄôs like any other really prideful football player,âÄù Brewster said. âÄúHe wants to perform and he wants to lead and he wants to win. Weber is as hard on himself as anyone. He said after MinnesotaâÄôs 35-21 loss to California that the interception he threw when the Gophers were trailing by only a touchdown early in the fourth quarter would haunt him for some time. When asked to assess his performance after playing the Badgers he said simply, âÄúWasnâÄôt a great game.âÄù This despite throwing for 271 yards and a touchdown. Brewster gives his team 24 hours after a loss. Then itâÄôs done, behind them and out of mind. The focus is the next opponent and the next opponent only. That goes especially for his quarterback, and though Weber said Saturday that falling short in the battle for the Axe yet again will sting for awhile, Brewster is confident that Weber will be ready for Purdue on Saturday. âÄúEverybodyâÄôs striving to have that complete game,âÄù Brewster said. âÄúFrom beginning to end, that complete performance.âÄù