Thursday, October 11, 2007

Beating Northwestern

I know I said this about Indiana, but Northwestern is a beatable team. Sure they throw the ball a lot (41x/game), sure they run the spread offense, and sure CJ Bacher threw for 520 yards and 5 touchdowns against Michigan State... okay, kind of wish I hadn't mentioned that last one.

Okay, so here's the good news: Northwestern is giving up 392 yards/game, including 160 yards/game on the ground.

In my opinion, the key to beating Northwestern is going to be for us to establish a ground game. Clearly this is easier said than done, considering Pinnix and Bennett are both injured and will probably see limited playing time. But Jay Thomas is a capable back, and he hasn't gotten an opportunity to get his legs under him yet this season.

Coach Brewster has said from day one that it was going to be important for this team to establish a running presence in the spread offense, but because the team has been playing from behind every week, we haven't really gotten the chance to do that. But this week it needs to be established. The key to beating Northwestern is to keep their offense off the field. Bacher can't throw touchdown passes from the bench (Or can he? 520 yards and 5 touchdowns? MY GOODNESS!!!) In addition, our defense can't give up points if they are on the bench.

The best defense for the Gophers this season is to have a good offense that can chew up a lot of clock time, and give the defense a chance to rest, and the opposing offense a chance to get out of rhythm.

Of course the other part of this equation is that the Gophers have to take care of the ball, and it HAS to start with Adam Weber, who has almost as many interceptions thrown this season (12) as he has TD's thrown (13, while also running for 3).

On the other side of the ball Bacher is beatable, and might do so to himself. He has thrown 7 interceptions this season to 9 TD passes (while running for 2), and don't forget about the fact that going into the Michigan state game he had already thrown all 7 of those interceptions, but only 4 touchdowns.

While Bacher can be contained, we don't want to give him the chance to run wild, as so many Northwestern QB's have done to us in the past, and as he himself did last week.

To close, establishing a running game does 3 important things for the Gophers:
1) Keeps NW offense off the field
2) Keeps MN defense off the field
3) Takes Northwestern's fans, celebrating their homecoming, out of the game by slowing down the pace

Go Gophs!!! Beat Northwestern!!!

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