Monday, November 17, 2008

Another Tough Loss at Camp Randall

Well a tough game for the Gophers Saturday at Camp Randall. I was there, in the second to last row, taking it all in. A few thoughts:
- This was really a game of swings- both in momentum and mood. We got to our seats a bit late, so I saw the first touchdown before we even sat down. A quick Gopher turnover leading to a Badger touchdown was exactly what could NOT happen for Minnesota to have a chance. I was thinking what a LLLOOOONNNNGGGGG afternoon it was going to be. Until…
…the Gopher D comes alive, forcing turnovers left and right. The U’s offense gets some short fields to build confidence (exactly what he had hoped for on the podcast!), and !gasp! they ACTUALLY MAKE SOME THROWS DOWN FIELD! HOLY CRAP! WE HAVE AN OFFENSE!!! Seriously, having some momentum and field position, Mike Dunbar made a couple of GREAT calls, especially the play-action fake option throw that set up the third TD. A thing of beauty. I also loved the call on the first TD to THROW on 3rd and goal instead of the expected QB sneak or option. Again, nice to see some originality for a change. The Gophs were rolling and up 21-7 until…
…the horrible Kyle Jefferson injury just before the half. Watching it live you couldn’t see what happened, and they didn’t replay it at all at the stadium, but when the trainers, then the medics, and then the ambulance came out onto the field, you knew it was bad. We did see him give the “thumbs up” as he was being carried out on the stretcher, so that was good to see. Still, the whole incident made me go from “fired up but worried” to “solemn but worried”. Oh and also cold. It was definitely cold at Camp Randall. For the Badger crowd (which was probably 95% Wisconsin fans. We need to work on taking Gopher Nation on the road), the injury and then him giving the “thumbs up” gave them life and rallied them a bit...
...Despite a 14 point halftime lead, I was still worried. I admittedly had zero confidence in the Gophers to hold this, because even before the half the Gophs had gone into “play not to lose” mode by taking a knee instead of trying to add more point. Wisconsin also had little trouble moving that ball the first half- they just had trouble hanging onto it. If the Badgers took better care of the ball in the second half, they were going to score points. Sure enough…
…Badger field goal to start the second half. Three and out from Minnesota, and the Badgers march down and score a touchdown. Even with the Joel Monroe field goal, the lead did NOT feel safe. Sure enough…
...A PJ Hill touchdown, TWO safeties, then a John Clay TD run give Wisconsin an 18 point swing with 7 minutes left. Ball game? I asked two Badger fans I was with that on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being very worried, how worried were they about a Gopher comeback? They were both at about a two…
…which changed to a 4 when Weber rallied the Gophs late with a drive that ended with a 13 yard Shady TD, but it was too little too late. All in all, a very entertaining heart-wrenching, punch-in-the-gut kind of game, but another tough loss and another blown lead.

- I’m not sure what was more appalling- The penalties- all 10 of them!!!!- or the back-to-back sacks Weber took in the fourth quarter, the second of which was the second safety in as many minutes! Ok, I guess I do know. Those two sacks were absolutely unacceptable. You CANNOT give up sacks there. In both cases it looked like had had one read, which was taken away, and then he didn’t know what to do. THROW IT AWAY ADAM!! Holy Christmas throw it 8 yards over his head out of bounds but don’t take a sack there!?!? I’m not sure if that was inexperience or ignorance, but it just can’t happen. I’m not saying Weber should lose his job, but I don’t think Brewster should hand it to him next year either. I hope MarQueis Gray and whoever else they have back next year will be given an opportunity to compete for the job. If Weber is truly the best, then fine he deserves it, but he hasn’t played well enough to automatically get his job back next year.
- Having said that, the Gophers made it pretty tough on themselves with the 10 penalties, half of which were false starts. Again, inexcusable. Young line or not, you’re only making things worse.
- I just have to keep reminding myself that 7 wins is a big step up from last year.
- I just can’t hate Wisconsin. Lord knows I’ve tried, but I just can’t hate them like I do Iowa. I don’t like the Badgers, but I certainly respect them, and think they’re a good example for what I hope the Gophs can be someday soon. This was my first COLD outdoor football experience (the only other outdoor college football games I’ve seen was the Fiesta Bowl waaayyyyy back in the day with Syracuse vs Kansas State. The quarterbacks in that game? Donovan McNabb and Michael Bishop. No kidding. The other one was Ohio State/Washington in Seattle last year in the most beautiful college football setting in the country), and I gotta say Iloved the setting and the elements. I cannot wait for the Gophs to be playing outdoors in November. It’s how Big 10 football should be! Camp Randall is an AWESOME college football experience, with the band and the Fifth Quarter and Jump Around, and a student section that seemed a little more creative than Minnesota’s. Of course, this is because they’ve been successful the last 15 years or so, so when the Gophers have their success and their trips to Pasadena, they’ll be able to build and create some Gopher football traditions of their own.

1 comment:

Victoria said...

Hi Jeff!
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Best,
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victoria@rocketxl.com