Saturday, October 11, 2008


(But don't tell my wife that.)

Congratulations to Tim Brewster and the Gophers on a very big win!!! To go into Illinois for their homecoming game, a game in which you were a 12 point underdog, and come away with a win, is just huge. To hold the Illinois offense to two touchdowns and just 20 points is big!!!

Now, we may have given up 550 total yards, and we may have given up 462 yards through the air, but the Illinois offense knows how to score, and score big, and we held them off for the most part.

Some thoughts that I wrote down while watching the game and some reactions to the stats...

DEFENSE!!! These guys seem to be playing with some kind of chip on its collective shoulder, and I love it!!! After Hightower put the late hit on Juice Williams and then Van De Steeg got into it later with Benn, I was wondering if Ted Roof had told his squad that the Illinois offense had gone out the previous night and made-out with all of their girlfriends.

The goal line stops on 3rd & 4th down were huge! We got some help from replay, thankfully because clearly Juice was down on both plays. I really love the way our defense speeds to the ball and is just flying around trying to make plays, they never give up!

The Illini were averaging 210 yards/game on the ground this season, but they were only able to put together 88 on the Gophers.

SIMONI! What can you say about Simoni Lawrence? Two tackles for a loss, including a sack, a fumble recovered and returned for a TD, and 9 tackles on the day. That's big time!

WVDS! And what can you say about Willie VanDeSteeg? 3 sacks, 5 total tackles and he forced the fumble that Lawrence took into the end-zone. WVDS was a beast all day long and he was constantly in Juice Williams face.

Deep passes... As good as the defense was today, should we be worried about how susceptible they might be to the deep pass? This seems to be where some teams have been able to hurt us so far this year. If I recall correctly, Coach Brewster considers any pass play over 18 yards to be considered an "explosive play." The Illini had 8 of them today, and 2 of those were touchdowns.

Trickery... I loved the fake punt, and the execution was flawless. I really like Brewster's willingness to try to go for the jugular sometimes. It was too bad the Gophers couldn't capitalize with a score on that drive.

The running game... Things really picked up today and it's clear that DeLeon Eskridge is starting to run with a lot more confidence. Also, great to see him get an opportunity to turn on the after-burners and show his speed on the 46 yard TD run!

I was really glad to see Dunbar work hard to establish the run throughout the game, even though the passing game had been so good on the opening drive. We HAVE to keep doing this in order to keep defenses off balance.

What was up with the missed extra-point by Monroe?

Illinois' no-huddle... When Illinois ran the no-huddle they really hurt us today. They had their most offensive success in the first half when they went no-huddle, and the TD throw to Jenkins in the second half was absolutely because of the no-huddle. Jenkins was never even covered on that play, and because of the no-huddle, the defense was confused and the coverage was lost. Juice did a nice job of taking advantage of it.

Weber... I thought Adam Weber played a very nice, controlled game where he absolutely looked like a leader. He really played within himself, didn't force passes, and threw the ball to the open man. Weber hit 7 different receivers, and it was good to see Jack Simmons get a bit more involved in the offense

Surprise! Another big game for Decker! 9 catches, 86 yards, and a fantastic athletic play to get the Gophers into the end-zone on their opening drive (not to mention a great throw by Weber).

Learning how to win... This is definitely a team that has learned how to win. I can't even fathom that fact that just a year ago this team needed three overtimes to beat Miami of Ohio for their only win of 2007, and here we are with 6 wins, bowl eligible after only 7 games, and today we beat a very talented Illinois team in their stadium on their homecoming!

Illinois made a lot of mistakes today, and you have to give credit to this young Gopher team that took advantage of those mistakes all day long.


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