Sunday, October 11, 2009

It Was the Best of Times and the Worst of Times

Hayo!!! Now THAT's what a homecoming game is supposed to be! A Gopher blowout in front of a sellout crowd at The Bank complete with below freezing weather and snow!!! Wait, ok, maybe not the last part. Yep, Jer and I were both there (although in different sections. Thanks again to my realtor Chris Gemlo for letting my wife and I sit with him and his wife Lisa in his seats. GREAT view of my first live game at TCF Bank stadium) and we were both apart of a chilly but fired up crowd. Look, I understand it's going to be cold and snowy in Minnesota- BUT ON OCTOBER 10th?!?!?!?!?! Good gracious, if it was this cold with snow on October 10th in Antartica even the penguins would be like "ok, this is a little ridiculous!" I LOVE the outdoor stadium and the entire experience, but can't winter wait until, you know, winter?

One other comment before we get to the actual game- it was an announced sellout of just over 50,000 but there were two almost entirely empty sections in the upper deck endzone where the student section is SUPPOSED to be. Look, the student section in the lower bowl end zone was full BEFORE kickoff (which, if you've been to games at the Metrodome you know never happened), and for the students who used their tickets in the upper deck were fired up and leading the charge the entire game. The student section stood the ENTIRE game and were everything you should expect a student section to be! But the two sections of empty seats? The U needs to reconsider giving that many seats to students. In talking to people at the game, the rows are supposed to fit 25 people, but students try to cram 30 or more into a row. Obviously, I'm all for that. But it leaves two entire sections of empty seats. I say for next year take two sections in the upper deck away from the students and give them back to the public. It'll ensure that "announced sellouts" actually look like sellouts.

As for the game itself, we were treated to the worst quarter the Gophers have played this year, as well as the best. Hard to believe looking at the stats that the Gophs won despite passing for just 82 yards and allowing over 400, yet thanks to the defense and an opportunistic offense, we did just that. That third quarter was unreal, and what was just a one point 14-13 halftime lead suddenly jumped to 35-13 in three possessions thanks to a Purdue punt that was as ugly as anything Weber did all day, then two defensive turnovers. With three short fields give the offense credit for punching it in. If you've watched this team at all, especially last week, you know that scoring seven points instead of three from inside the redzone has been an issue all season, but it wasn't today and because of it Minnesota ran away with a victory.

Speaking of running- hello running game! It looked atrocious again for the first quarter and into the second, but whatever changes Tim Davis and Jed Fisch made at the half worked wonders, as the backs went from getting tackled as soon as they had the ball to running through gaping holes. Kevin Whaley was our best back today with 79 yards on just eight carries, and the more I see of him, the more I believe he's the best back on the team. Deleon Eskridge led the team in carries for the second straight week, and for the second straight week I want to know why. He offers the least of our three backs, yet continues to get the most carries. I do not understand. Duane Bennett, who had just two carries last week (for 20 yards) and who had just nine carries yesterday (but for 53 yards!). Duane is either hurt or deep in somebody's doghouse, because he's definitely more talented running the ball than Eskridge, but can't seem to get on the field. Still, the three backs churned out yardage and not only got us points but chewed up time on the clock once we grabbed the big lead. Again, credit the offensive line for making adjustments and run-blocking better than we're seen them all year.

The passing game? Yeesh, let's leave that for later this week. Weber only attempted 10 passes, and to be honest, that's more than I'd have wanted him to throw with the way he was playing and the decisions he was making. Still, we didn't need him, so it didn't matter much today, but it will the next two weeks in two extremely tough road environments.

On defense, Cosgrove's Crew laid a huge egg in the first quarter. I texted this to Jer during the quarter, and would love feedback from those who watched it, but it looked to me like everytime the Gophs faced a 3rd and medium-long (an obvious passing down), they dropped into a zone that dropped too far. Elliott was finding guys either in front of the linebackers who were dropping beyond the first down maker, or behind them as they were up too close. On the first drive Purdue converted a 3rd and 12 for 16 yards and a 3rd and 14 for 20 yards which just cannot happen.

Still, like the offense, the D made some adjustments, started getting pressure on Elliott, and forced some key turnovers. Yeah, they gave up over 400 yards of offense again, but they did more than enough to earn a win.

Purdue has a decent offense as we thought, but as they've done all year, they just cannot stop giving the ball away. They led the conference in giveaways coming into the game, and had three more to help the Gophs to a win. All in all though, this was a big, big win for Minnesota as they face their toughest two week stretch of the year as they'll play at Penn State and at Ohio State the next two weeks.

1 comment:

cappszilla said...

I'm glad you got to watch the game at the shiny new stadium, but I'm sorry you had to endure such an ugly offensive spectacle. Our D sure was fired up, and the Gophs did a great job of capitalizing on the turnovers Purdue handed us. I agree the running game improved in the second half, but there is still much room for continued improvement. Weber went 5/9 and 74 yards passing with 2 interceptions. That is simply atrocious! Jermo couldn't believe me when I texted him that stat during the game. I look forward to reading you thoughts on this as we head into a tough road series.