Monday, October 19, 2009

Well That Was Ugly

Ugh. What a game. What an awful game for the Gophers in every sense of the word. I did not watch the game live, but instead enjoyed a relaxing and fun weekend in the Boundary Waters with my wife and some friends of ours. Great weekend, went canoeing and hiking, and got to enjoy the great outdoors. We got home Sunday night and I was intent on watching the game I had saved on DVR. My wife kept telling me to watch it later, that we should finish season two of Madmen on Netflix instead. But no, stubbornly I insisted I HAD to watch this game!!!

Wish I had listened to my wife. Thanks to DVR I knocked it out in under an hour, but that's still an hour of my life I'll never get back. Wow was that ugly. Even the optimist of optimists would have trouble finding anything positive to say about the Gophers' 20-0 loss to Penn State. If you watched the game (and if you did I hope you had plenty of adult beverages on hand to ease the pain), you know the game was not as close as the score indicated. Not even remotely close.

After being stopped on their opening drive, Penn State rolled up and down the field on offense, with the Minnesota defense apparently only choosing to try to stop the Spread HD Nittany Lion offense once they got in the red zone, as they held them to a few field goals, with the Joe Pa's helping out with a missed chippy. Still, with absolutely nothing happening for the Gopher offense, the defense was eventually overwhelmed as Daryll Clark led them on a 12 play 101 yard drive (their second consecutive drive of over 100 yards of offense. Seriously) for a touchdown that put them up 13-0 and essentially sealed the game right then and there- with 7:02 still left to play in the first half.

The Nittany Lions added just one touchdown in the second half and had the ball only four times, but if was more than enough on this frigid day. Hell, all they would need was the first field goal they kicked on their second drive, as the Gophers crossed midfield ONCE all game, and came away with no points as they were stuffed on fourth-and-goal. With Halloween coming up, these numbers are as scary and goulish as anything you'll see:

Total offense: 138 yards (not in the half- the game)
Rushing yards: 37
yards per carry: 2.1
Net passing yards: 101
Time of Possession: 18:01

And just in case you're not clear on how bad that is, let me add this: Penn State has played a few truly terrible teams this year in 1-AA Eastern Illinois, Illinois (1-6), Akron (1-5), and Syracuse (2-4). ALL OF THEM had more yards on offense than Minnesota did Saturday. I am going to throw my remote control through the TV next time one of the freaking announcers talks about how offensive coordinator Jed Fisch is some kind of young offensive guru and WonderBoy. It happened again Saturday with Matt Millen (who was an incredible player both at Penn State and in the NFL, but has lost all credibility. Honestly, when you see the name Matt Millen or hear him speak, the first thing you think about is how horrible he was running the Detroit Lions, don't you? It's what you'll always think of. I cannot take him seriously as an announcer no matter what he says. I wonder when ABC will realize this) gushing about Fisch being a brilliant young offensive mind or some crap like that- all the while his team is putting up the least amount of yards Penn State has given up all season!?!?!?

I maintain there is talent on this offense, at least at the skill positions, and Fisch continues to squander it. I understand the blame being put on the offensive line for the running game, as they averaged a putrid 2.1 yards per game. Our backs are solid, but certainly not the quality of an Evan Royster, who can make something out of nothing, or a John Clay who can just run people over. Our backs saw no daylight and no holes to run through, and were bottled up almost as soon as they got the ball. Penn State, on the other hand, gave Evan Royster a bit of daylight and he did the rest. Royster, who IS the best back in the conference, showed what a talented back can do with even a little wiggle room. He had a couple of runs where he just got a crease at the line and then did the rest, either outrunning, or running over, Gopher defenders.

Anyway, the Gopher running game continues to suffer against good defenses. The passing game? I can't put all the blame on the line. Yep, quarterback Adam Weber appeared to be running for his life at times, but do you know how many times he was sacked? Once. Just once. I can't find any stats for how many times he was hurried or knocked down, but when you QB is sacked only once and he puts up the following stats, well, you can't blame your offensive line:

Adam Weber: 10-22 101 yards 0 TD's 1 pick

I dare anyone, really ANYONE, to defend Adam Weber at this point. Please, tell me why he should start another game in his Gopher career until MarQueis Gray gets an opportunity to start and prove he can't handle it. Anyone? Bueller? He is regressing badly in this his third season, and outside of Juice Williams at Illinois he's the worst starting quarterback in the Big Ten. We are now seven games into the season and his numbers are the worst they've been in THREE YEARS as a starter! Considering Gray got in for a grand total of zero plays Saturday tells me coach Tim Brewster and WonderBoy Jed Fisch are going to blindly and stubbornly stick with Weber because it's the safe thing to do, and they're trying to save face right now. Um, gentlemen? The ship is sinking, and the water is pouring in around you. Pulling your three year starter who has sucked for seven straight weeks for an uber-talented freshman is not going to make your fanbase revolt. It will actually show you're paying attention, that you're acknowledging there's a wee bit of a problem on offense and it starts with the guy under center. Honestly, 138 yards of offense: could Gray do any worse next week at Ohio State?

Speaking of which, don't start getting your hopes up for this week at Ohio State just because Purdue shocked the Buckeyes. Ohio State's offense is almost as bad as ours right now, but they were done in by turnovers, as QB Terrelle Pryor committed four of them (speaking of regression at quarterback- what the deuce is going on with Pryor?!?). The Boilermakers, who if you remember put up more than 400 yards of offense on us two weeks ago, finally had a game where they stopped giving the ball away while Ohio State couldn't stop giving it up to them. It was the perfect storm for a victory, and you better believe it will NOT happen again. The Buckeyes will be playing to save their season Saturday(if they win out, including a win over Iowa, they'd still win the Big Ten title), and they're not going to lay an egg twice in a row, especially at home.

Not only that, but despite their worst performance of the season against Purdue, Ohio State's 18 points, 12 first downs and 287 yards of offense would have been more than enough to beat Minnesota with the way the Gophers played last Saturday. Oh, and the Buckeyes defense is better than Penn State's too. So Coach Brewster, Wonderboy Fisch and the rest of the staff, it's back to the drawing board. I will continue to advocate to pull your starting quarterback, but short of that, we're going to have to hope for miracles on Saturday in The Shoe. We knew this two game stretch could be ugly, but this? This is ridiculous.

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