Monday, September 29, 2008

An objective look at OSU

I took a couple of days to let the Gopher game against the Buckeyes settle in before posting a response.

For the most part on Saturday I was pretty disappointed with the Gophers performance. It's clear that a lot of questions still remain about this football team. But I did have to take a step back and realize a couple of things...

1. Ohio State is still the class of the Big10... Until someone proves otherwise (Penn State is doing their best to do so), OSU is still the best team in the Big10. A perennial national championship contender, conference championship contender, and annually one of the best defenses in all of college football. Jim Tressel is still one of the best coaches in the country and he does not lose games to lesser competition... he just doesn't. They played in the national championship game just 9 months ago, and they are not NEARLY as bad as they looked against USC. Ohio State was favored by as much as 19 points in this game for a reason.

2. The Gophers were 1-11 last year... And 0-8 in the Big10. This was an absolutely horrible football team that finished a 1-11 season just 10 months ago. The Gophers are one of the youngest football teams in college football and by absolutely any measure imaginable they are a better football team than they were last year. The fact of the matter is that Coach Brewster was right, it was incredibly "optimistic" to think that the Gophers matched up well with an experienced Ohio State team. That is not to say that we had zero chance of winning this game, but it is to say that, for the Gophers to win, they needed to play flawlessly.

Once I reminded myself of those two facts, I think there are some good things to take away from this game. We all know what the good things were: the team never gave up, Weber didn't let the turnover ruin his day, the defense was much better than last year... so let's move on.

When it comes to things like this, I tend to have really high expectations, and focus on the things that we need to do better instead of what went well. We lost the game, what can we learn from this to win next time?

We know that coming into this game the Gophs had done a great job of getting the ball from their opponents, and when they forced the fumble from Beanie Wells it looked like the trend was continuing. But we couldn't capitalize. Additionally, we gave up the ball 3 times (even though the Jack Simmons fumble was VERY questionable). Ouch!

Weber's interception was his fault. He was throwing to Decker who was at least double covered, and he threw it very short. This was a huge momentum killer.

In order for a team that is over-matched from a talent standpoint to win a game like this, we had to be opportunisitc and get touchdowns off of turnovers. We just couldn't do that against a very good Ohio State defense.

One of the biggest concerns that I have after this game is the rushing game, and the run stopping game. We gave up 279 yards on the ground, and only were able to muster 81 of our own. A lot of this probably had to do with the fact that we were playing from behind, and Ohio State was playing with a lead, all day long. Overall we just couldn't get much going on offense, and even against a defense as good as Ohio State, this has to be a concern.

My conclusion is that Ohio State was supposed to win this game, and they came out and did what they had to to win. I thought that Ohio State controlled every facet of the game and that the Gophers didn't quite have the horses to make the adjustments neccesary to hang with the Buckeyes.

I think that games like this will look different in the future, but for now, the Gophers are in a good position heading into the rest of the Big10 schedule.

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