Monday, October 27, 2008

Drink it in!!!

Another Gopher win... it always goes down smooth!!!

Don't you hate Mondays? They always seem to get away from me. But the great thing about THIS Monday has been the number of people at work who have said something to me about how the Gophers are doing! That's a nice change of pace from last year at this time when I was constantly having to defend my Gopher fanaticism.

So, here are some additional thoughts on the Gophers first win at Ross-Ade Stadium since 1990.

Avoiding the big letdown... As I noted in my preview of Purdue last week "the Gophers have had some tendency this season to follow up nice wins with underwhelming performances." I perhaps should have singled out the offense in that statement.
Unfortunately Saturday continued this trend. Although the Gophers came out and scored on their opening possession (thank you Brandon Green), the offense was lethargic and couldn't get much going. Outside of Green showing some huge potential, and Weber being able to run the ball (Were you like me? Did you stop breathing every time he ran?), the offense couldn't do too much all day...

Offensive Line... At any point prior to this season did the thought that our offense would be a question mark even enter your mind? Yeah, me neither. And yet, here we are 7-1, and if there is a concern, it's the offense.

But more clearly, the problem starts on the line. No surprise here, but you would have hoped they would have been able to gel by this point. No such luck. No running lanes, no time to pass, Weber was chased all day long (and ended the game with a bloody nose), Eskridge couldn't get anything going.

Because the defense has been so solid, the offense hasn't been required to put up huge points for a few weeks, but you have to wonder at what point the offensive line is going to become a liability. If Purdue or Indiana had been able to put up points against our defense, we would have been in a world of hurt because our O-line was not prepared to give us the protection required to keep up in a high scoring game.

The size and speed of the defensive lines that we have been facing have obviously increased dramatically from the non-conference schedule to the Big Ten schedule, making the o-line the team's biggest concern, without question.

Other offensive issues? Outside of the offensive line, another offensive issue on Saturday was our WR's having dropsies. What was that all about? Green gets a bit of a pass as he's a true freshman, but he dropped at least 2 passes. I believe even Decker had a drop or two, as well as Kuznia. Perhaps it was the colder weather, but it appeared to be an issue on Saturday.

Secondly, penalties. This pertains back to the offensive line a bit, but there were also two illegal formation penalties on Saturday. These mistakes need to go away.

Weber running... I was watching the game at Joe Senser's in Roseville on Saturday, and you could feel a collective gasp everytime Weber ran the ball and got hit. You have to love his toughness, but I don't think anybody wants to see him become one of our main running threats like last year. It was a nice wrinkle to have him run a couple of times, and it really worked well, but hopefully we don't have to throw him to the lions too often.

Lack of scoring... While the overall lack of offensive production is a concern, perhaps an even bigger concern was the offense's inability to turn turnovers into points. The defense gave the offense 4 extra possessions off of turnovers, and the offense only managed a field goal from those extra possessions. An oportunistic defense is fantastic, but the offense needs to find ways to capitalize. If this offense had managed any kind of score after any of the three other turnovers, this game would have felt very different in the 4th quarter.

Defense... Once again, what can you say about these guys? They got to Painter and knocked him out of the game, they gave up only 109 yards in the air, and only 117 on the ground. They had a small amount of trouble adjusting to Siller being under center instead of Painter, but overall they were all over the place.

The only issue I would point to on defense also seemed to be an issue on special teams, and that is tackling. The entire team seemed to take a small step backward on Saturday in this area. I saw a lot of arm tackles that were broken and gang tackles that weren't finished. Thankfully it didn't result in too many big plays, but it's another issue that needs to be dealt with quickly.

Turnovers... Another 4 turnover game for the defense, and a +3 overall for the game. This defense continues to be incredibly opportunistic, and offense is doing a great job of holding onto the ball as a compliment.

7-1 folks!!! Drink it in, indeed!


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