Big Ten: Insight Bowl 0831

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

The hire didn't make waves around the country and barely registered on the Big Ten radar.

When Minnesota head coach Tim Brewster replaced offensive line coach Phil Meyer with Tim Davis on Nov. 25, it was deemed a solid and necessary move for a struggling unit. Earth-shattering? Not quite. That's what happens when head coaches or coordinators are hired and fired.

How much impact could a new position coach possibly have, especially with a bowl game only a month away?

Minnesota is about to find out.

"This is no exaggeration," junior guard Ned Tavale said. "We have changed our whole identity. Right when he set foot, he made his name known. He basically came in, took us all by the collar and just told us, 'This is how it's going to be. Whatever you learned in the past, take it off because I'm going to teach you guys from square one.'"

The Golden Gophers likely won't be a finished product when they face Kansas on Wednesday in the Insight Bowl, but the front five will have a decidedly different look, thanks to Davis, who also will oversee Minnesota's running game.

The West Coast offense is being reduced, while the power run is back at Minnesota. The two-point stance is out, and Tavale and his linemates will have their hands in the turf against the Jayhawks. Outside runs are being phased out, in favor of between-the-tackles power plays. Tavale and his fellow guards are constantly on the move, occasionally two or three at a time.

Minnesota football is starting to look a lot like ... Minnesota football.

And Davis is just getting started.

"To think, we had all our calls for the entire year, two years, and then within a matter of days, he basically said, 'You know, forget that. This is what you've got to do,'" Tavale said. "He wasn't being unreasonable. He was just being honest. We know where we want to go. We've all got to buy into the system."

After finishing last in the Big Ten in rushing offense (105.8 ypg) this season, the Gophers had no choice. Brewster admitted his team got beat up down the stretch, when it lost its final four games, and a new philosophy up front was necessary.

Minnesota had to return to its roots and Davis, who has coached offensive lines at USC, Wisconsin, Alabama and in the NFL, became the obvious choice.

"He's made an unbelievable impression," Brewster said. "He's got so much experience. His energy, his enthusiasm; he's a perfect fit for me."

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