Saturday, November 1, 2008

Reaction to losing to Northwestern

Ever since the game ended this afternoon I've been thinking about what I was going to write about this. Usually there is an angle, or something you can take away from the game, or a "at least..." statement to be made, even after a loss.

But I can't come up with anything.

The Gophers lost their Homecoming game to a Northwestern team that they should have beaten. It's that simple.

I did not come away from this game feeling like Northwestern was a better team than the Gophers. I thought the Gophers played admirably on defense, but they just could NOT come up with an answer for something called Mike Kafka. That guy, more than the Wildcats, just absolutely killed us today.

220 yards on the ground?!?!?! Are you kidding me?

I said last week both in print and on the podcast that I was concerned about when our offensive line was going to become a liability. Then, yesterday I was at lunch with a co-worker and we were talking about the Gophers (big surprise!). And here is what I said to him:

"The two things that scare the (expletive) out of me about the Gophers is our offensive line and our susceptibility to the deep pass."

Imagine how sick to my stomach I was seeing Kafka throw an opening drive touchdown over our secondary just 7 plays into the game. And then on the Gophers ensuing drive to see Weber with no time to throw and Eskridge with no daylight to run to.

In the wins over Indiana and Purdue, despite the fact that the offense couldn't settle in, at least you felt like the defense had things under control. But this game was different. The offense moved the ball well at times, but by the time the defense settled into their game, the Gophers were already down 10-0.

The thing that makes me the most sick is that I can already hear the naysayers talking about how the Gophers can't beat a good team.

Coach Brewster said after the game that the Gophers didn't do enough in all three facets of the game to win. But I don't buy it. Our defense, despite having one of their most trying days of the season so far, gave up only 17 points.

Mike Dunbar's high-powered, spread coast offense is not getting the job done. But I don't blame Dunbar. The problem, as we've been talking about for weeks, is the offensive line. And the biggest concern is this: the o-line production is not going to improve through scheming or game planning because the greater issue is that they are young, they are inexperienced and they are banged up.

This loss hurts. Not because of how we lost on the interception, but because of the bigger picture. The bigger picture being that we have an exciting season going, that we have an overall good football team, that for the first time in memory we actually have a defense, and that I still believe we are a better football team than Northwestern.

The last three games of the season suddenly have a very different feel.

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