Sunday, September 13, 2009

Thoughts while re-watching the Gophs win over Air Force

Now that the Vikings game is over it's time for to re-watch the Gophers win over Air Force from last night on the DVR.  Unfortunately Jeffrick and I didn't get to attend the game, but we watched together at Joe Senser's (first half) and my place (second half).

So here I go: no beer, no pizza, no distractions. Just me, the DVR and my laptop.  A word of warning: Since I'm re-watching this trying to notice what I didn't last night, this is bound to be slightly incoherent, disjointed, and might not make sense. 

-Um, I'm seeing Rascal Flats do a version of their song "Me And My Gang" with a Big10 football twist.  This is a pretty cool idea... but this is still a crappy song.  My wife has a friend who refers to Rascall Flats as "The hot one, the fat one and the ugly one."  I can never remember which is which.
-BIG fan of the all gold unis, and how cool is it to see Sam Maresh carry the flag out onto the field for the first game at The Bank?  Gave me chills even the second time.
-Maresh's dad reveals that he thinks the Gophers might use a redshirt on Sam this year.  After seeing how good our linebackers have played for two games, it's hard to argue with that.

First Half:
-Chris Martin makes the first "The Bank is open" comment of the year, followed by "and Stoudermire is making the first deposit," after Troy's game opening kickoff return to the 50 yard line.  I'm expecting to hear those types of cliches a lot this year... and I can't see myself getting tired of it.
-Really looked like the offense was committed to the run this game during the opening drive.  Unfortunately they couldn't finish off the drive and they go 3 & out.  Pretty sad to waste that Stoudermire return.
-It's clear re-watching our first defensive series that there was some initial difficulty figuring out Air Force's triple-option run game.  What's interesting is that I didn't realize how much bigger our d-line is than AF's o-line, and yet we couldn't seem to get the penetration we needed to disrupt their running game early.  You could tell that the defense knew what it needed to do to break up this type of running attack but they were having some difficulty executing it.
-Great play utilizing the wildcat offense on first down! Gray in the shotgun, Weber lined up wide left, goes in motion, takes the hand off from Gray, and Weber makes a great running throw to hit a wide open Decker for the first down. Beautiful stuff!  If that play was a member of Rascal Flats it would be the hot one.
-Nice to see the running game bust a big play with Eskridge on the 25 yard gain and maybe even nicer to actually see the Gophers stick with the run on the following play.
-Weber almost gets Hoese killed when he throws a ball high and behind the FB.  Weber still having some accuracy issues in the first half of this game.  If that play was a member of Rascal Flats it would be the ugly one.
-Air Force is unbelievably disciplined in their blocking schemes on the option runs.  If I wasn't such a huge Gopher fan it actually might have been kind of fun to watch.  Instead it's maddening. 
-Holy smokes, Adam Weber just threw a ball to his second option... what's happening?
-With the Gophers winning 3-0 the BTN announcers are falling all over themselves talking about Air Force's running game and how difficult it was for the Gophers to prepare for AF.  And you know who loves Air Force? Chris Martin, that's who.  He can't get enough of them, can't stop talking about them.  I think this may have been the point in the game while we were watching it live that I commented to Jeff: "This is going to be just like last week.  The announcers will spend the entire game praising Air Force, but we will win the game."
-Which reminds me, why did the announcers have to keep referring to them as THE Air Force, as if the Gophers were playing the entirety of this particular United States military arm.  I was waiting for them to say something like "Minnesota cannot stop The Air Force."  To which I would have loudly yelled, "WHO EXPECTS THEM TO?!?!?!"
-Why MarQuise, WHY?!?!  Why did you have to fumble that ball?  Why didn't you switch hands?  Why do I have a man-crush on you when you've hardly even played?  Why, I ask you, MarQuise... WHY?
-The Gopher defense did a fair amount of bending in this game, but they didn't break often.  THE Air Force had 261 yards rushing, but no scores on the ground, and just the one touchdown overall and that was through the air.  Hard to argue with that type of performance when you are playing THE Air Force.
-Also, this begs the question, who would have thought that THE Air Force would have such a good ground game?  I would have bet that THE Air Force would have had more of an aerial attack.  How's that for irony?  I bet Alanis Morissette would have put something like this in her song "Ironic," but judging by the lyrics of that song she doesn't actually understand the meaning of the word.
-I hate to sound like a broken record, but Weber's inaccuracy is going to be a problem. He did manage to go 20 for 29 in this game, but I bet at least 5 (and this is a guess only) of those incompletions were due to poorly thrown passes.  I've seen at least 3 so far and it's not even halftime.
-I'm really impressed by how much the crowd appeared to be in the game for the entire first half, especially the gold covered student section!   You would NOT have seen that at the Metrodome.
-Coach Brewster's halftime interview was interesting. He was asked about the great play of the defense, which I think he normally would have taken as an opportunity to praise them exhaustively.  Instead he praised them quickly, and moved immediately the the fact that the offense needs to find some rhythm.
-Chris Martin had this quote at halftime: "If (Eric Decker)'s held to under 100 yards receiving , there is NO WAY Minnesota can win this game."  By the end of this game Decker will, in fact, have over 100 yards, and the Gophers will win the game... so we don't get a chance to prove Martin wrong.  Nonetheless, I'm not sure I agree with his statement.
-The BTN commercial with all of the coaches doing mock recruiting visits was just on.  Seeing Joe Paterno growl "COME TO PENN STATE!!!"  through his teeth NEVER gets old.
-Wow, THE AF was 6 of 10 on 3rd down conversions and had nearly six minutes more time of possession in the first half than the Gophers. 6 MINUTES!?!?!  You think our offense might need to do a little better job of controlling the ball?  Good heavens!  If THE AF's first half time of possession was a member of Rascal Flats it would be the fat one.  (WOW, that was a reach.)

Second Half:
-BIG stop for the Gopher defense on 4th and 1.  You gotta love that!  Past Gopher teams would have given up the first down like THE Air Force was a charity case. (In actuality the military is well funded.)
-Chris Martin wants THE Air Force to check their helmets because they keep popping off.
-BTN tapped into WCCO's radio broadcast to get a listen to Ray Christensen.  Classy move for Christensen to come back and call the game, and classy move by BTN to give him his due.  You gotta miss listening to Ray.  As he calls the game you can actually tell what is going on... imagine that!
-The offense began clicking a bit more in the second half, but I'm still disappointed by Jedd Fisch's lack of commitment to the running game.  We heard about it all off-season, and yet, the pass still dominates our play calling.
-Adam Weber is now the Gophers all-time leader in completions.  It took him 2 seasons plus a game and a half.  I don't know if this says more about how good Weber can be, or how poor our passing game was in the past.
-The Gophers penalties in this game: 8 penalties for -69 yards, including negating a 17 yard pass completion in the third quarter.
-My apologies (at least this time) to Adam Weber who thew a nice ball over the middle which Eric Decker missed.  It wasn't tipped, he wasn't interfered with, it just plain went through his hands.
-I really can't get over how the announcers are praising THE Air Force.  If you couldn't see the score you would swear they were beating the Gophers by at least two touchdowns.
-THE Air Force finally gives the announcers something tangible to cheer about: THE Air Force has run the ball so effectively that they were actually able to throw a pass and it was a touchdown.  Collado was absolutely toasted on this play.
-THE Air Force is doing some weird thing before their kick-off where they are holding hands and doing something that resembles rowing a boat.  They don't have their swim trunks, or their flippy-floppies, but they do, in fact, appear to be acting as if, they are on a boat.  So, to recap, THE Air Force: great ground game and great job acting as if they are on a boat, but still not much of an air attack despite their name.  So far they resemble the Army and the Navy more than THE Air Force.
-Um, more apologies to Adam Weber, who just had ANOTHER ball dropped by Decker who was wide open but slipped on the turf.  How did I not pay more attention to this last night? (Answer: booze.)  Also, THE Eric Decker was called for pass interference on this play and rightfully so.
-3rd and 25 and Weber found his favorite target... Nick Tow-Arnett?  This play was somehow called a first down by the officials thanks to a generous spot.
-The Gophs start the 4th Quarter off with a Duane Bennett run, two completions (both first downs) to Decker, followed by an Eskridge touchdown run.  THIS is the Gopher offense I thought we'd be seeing this year.
-Speaking of which, decent little game for Eskridge: 7 rushes, 59 yards, a 7.6 yards/carry average.
-On THE Air Force's ensuing drive, they run 3 plays (a pass and two runs), and on the fourth Brandon Kirksey does his best adult entertainer impression (wait for it... wait for it... no?  Stripper.  He did an impression of a stripper when he stripped the ball from Tim Jeffereson.  Oh forget it, I don't have to impress you people.)  Anyway... Nate Triplett returns the ball 52 yards for a touchdown!!!  THIS is the Gopher defense I thought we'd be seeing this year!  And just like that, it's a completely different ballgame.
-You know what is awesome about the BTN?  They do those promotional awards (The Rotel Connection of the Game, the Jaguar Best Defensive Performance of the Game) IMMEDIATELY after they happen.  No sense waiting until the end of the game to see if something else happens, right?  After Triplett's touchdown he was given the Jaguar Best Defensive Performance "award" when BTN came back from commercial.  That performance deserves our inaugural award.  We've never given an award away here at the blog, and Jeff doesn't know I'm doing this, but I think he'll be okay with it.

BTN gets Gopher Football Blog's Ill-Timed Awarding of an Award Award, presented by ROLEX.

-We smother THE Air Force on their next drive. No word yet on whether or not Tim Brewster and the Gophers will face any legal action for making the US Military look silly.
-We chew up a good chunk of the clock on our next drive and Ellestad finishes the drive with a 38 yard field goal.  The Gophers scored 17 of their 20 points in this game in the 4th quarter.
-By the way, THE Air Force was penalized for "leaping" on the Ellstad field goal. Apparently the defender used his hands to propel himself off of one of his teammates and into the air.  Apparently this is referred to as "leaping."  Apparently this is a penalty.  Apparently THE Air Force DOES have an air attack. 

-Chris Martin now ponders if THE Air Force will take some shots down field. Seems to me they pretty much have to being down by 10 with roughly 5 minutes to play, don't they?  But therein lies the rub: THE Air Force has spent the entire game running the ball, they are a running team, they don't throw a lot.  If you spend all of your practice turning yourself into a running team, and your entire game plan trying to run down your opponent's throat, and you find yourself losing at the end of the game, well, you're pretty much out of luck at this point.  There's probably a reason you weren't passing most of the game.
-At this point Chris Martin redeems himself by saying "this offense wasn't designed to play from behind."
-This turns into a lengthy drive for THE Air Force late into the 4th quarter, but the defense does a nice job of holding them to just a field goal.

In a lot of ways, this game felt similar to last week's win over Syracuse.  The Gophers didn't play their best ball for 3 quarters, the plucky team they were lined up across from became the announcer's darling, but they played well in the 4th quarter and won the game.

2-0 Gopher fans!  SKI-U-MAH!

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