Saturday, November 21, 2009

Defense Steps Up; Offense Disappears

To have any chance of defeating #13 Iowa at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, the Gopher football team knew it had to play much better defensively. Certainly, they would have to improve upon last season's effort, in which the Gophers were steamrolled 55-0 in the final game at the Metrodome, but things couldn't have been any worse. The Gophers received the tremendous defense effort they needed to pull the upset on Saturday. The problem was the offense simply couldn't move the ball. The end result: a 12-0 Iowa victory.

The defensive numbers were spectacular, limiting Iowa to the following:
  • 12 points
  • 12 first downs
  • 1 of 13 on third down opportunities
  • 171 total yards on 60 offensive plays
  • Forced two turnovers
  • Recorded four QB sacks
Those numbers represent the finest Gopher defensive performance in several seasons. However, the Hawkeyes kept Floyd of Rosedale for the seventh time in eight seasons because of offensive ineptitude. Consider the following:
  • 13 first downs
  • 48 rushing yards on a staggering 36 carries (1.3 yards, NET!)
  • 14 of 42 passing for a measly 153 yards
  • Allowed five QB sacks
  • Threw a costly interception and lost two fumbles - one inside the Iowa 15 yard line with the score 3-0
  • Two trips inside the Iowa 15 yard-line and no points
  • Shut out twice in the same season since 1986
  • Scoreless in last two games against Iowa, outscored 67-0
The Gopher defense deserved a better fate today than that received, thanks to the poor play of QB Adam Weber (14 of 40, 153 yards), his receivers, and, most importantly, the offensive line. Weber is not without fault, but he was running for his life all game long. When he did have time to throw, his receivers found ways to drop the pass or run the wrong routes. Weber lost two fumbles and played like the inexperienced freshman, James Vandenberg, on the other side of the ball for Iowa.

ABC broadcaster Bob Griese had a good point in the fourth quarter. While criticizing Weber for making mistakes a three-year starter should no longer make, he called out the offensive line. He stated they are soft, that they need to lose weight, and get stronger. I couldn't agree more. If the Gophers are to have any chance to win at all, they must have a running attack. Even spread teams like Purdue and Northwestern have better rushing games than the Gophers. For next season, the first area of improvement must, must, must be on the offensive line. Of course, the same could have been said twelve months ago.

Coach Tim Brewster drops to 0-6 all-time against Iowa and Wisconsin with Saturday's loss. This one will sting for a while, because the Gophers had it for the taking. Instead of pulling an upset which would have positioned themselves for a better bowl game while knocking Iowa out of BCS consideration, the Gophers now finish 6-6 (3-5 in the Big Ten), and have yet another second-tier position in conference play. Of course, if they had taken care of business against Illinois two weeks ago, we would not be having this conversation.

1 comment:

  1. I wonder if Mike Dunbar is laughing all the way to the bank while cashing his $500K "consultant" check.