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WHAT TO MAKE OF ADAM WEBER? HE'S ONE OF THE MOST EXPERIENCED QUARTERBACKS in college football. He's the most prolific passer in Gophers history. And yet the fifth-year senior had to fight just to hold on to his starting job. ¶ "Sometimes having a little fire under your butt helps you perform at a different level," says Weber, who beat out marquee 2008 recruit MarQueis Gray in spring practice.
Few quarterbacks in conference history have played at the level Weber has at times in his career. He has started all 38 games since winning the job as a redshirt freshman, passing for 8,238 career yards. He became the school's alltime leading passer last October and could climb as high as third on the Big Ten's career passing charts by the time he's done.
"There [have been] a lot of very positive things," coach Tim Brewster says. "But Adam needs to lead us. He realizes we need to win games."
And there's the rub with Weber.
Even though the durable signal-caller has led Minnesota to back-to-back Insight Bowl appearances, he has won only 14 games in three seasons. He has thrown 42 career interceptions—last season he threw more picks (15) than touchdown passes (13) as the Gophers went 6-7. And Weber could have better mobility—with little help from his offensive line, he was sacked 37 times.
Minnesota ranked last in the Big Ten in both scoring (averaging just 20.9 points per game) and total offense (306.5 yards). All those negative plays added up to a lot of negative attention—even from a sizable portion of the Gophers' fan base, which has been calling for Brewster to make the switch to Gray.
"I understand [some fans' frustrations]. It's all about winning, and we haven't done enough of that," Weber says. "For the past three seasons we've made improvements, but we haven't taken that next step."
For Minnesota inconsistency has been the theme of the Brewster-Weber era. The team finished 1-11 when Weber was a redshirt freshman, which was also Brewster's first season in Minneapolis. Weber was one of the few pleasant surprises, throwing for 2,895 yards with 24 touchdowns.
When Weber was a sophomore, the Gophers started 7-1 before faltering over the final month. Still, Weber was one of the nation's more efficient quarterbacks, throwing just eight picks in a season that earned him second-team All-Big Ten honors.
Despite Weber's struggles in '09 Brewster is sticking with his senior. "It was important that Adam play well this spring. And he won the job based on all the things we look for in a quarterback," Brewster says.