Looking at the schedule a couple months back, the Iowa game looked like arguably the most favorable game on the conference schedule. Win, and the Gophers are well on their way to another bowl game. Lose and Minnesota may not win another Big Ten game the rest of the year.
Well, on Saturday, the Gophers lost to Iowa and were out-gained 464 yards to 165. It was a butt kicking from start to finish. Iowa dominated both lines of scrimmage and dictated every facet of the game.
Let’s take a moment and break down the good, the bad, and the ugly. Well, mostly the ugly. Please take note that there are far more dislikes than likes this week.
WHAT I LIKED:
- The crowd: The game was sold out for the first time all season. Not to mention, the vast majority in attendance were Gopher fans, which is much better than the days of the Metrodome when it was more like a 50/50 split between Gopher and Hawkeye fans.
- The tailgating: It was awesome. Despite the lousy weather, people were having a blast. The turnout was good and people were eating, drinking and having a great time.
- Hawkeye fans: They were classy, cool, and civil. No nastiness from the Hawkeye fans I talked to. After the game, they could have talked trash and been as cocky as they wanted to, but they weren’t.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE:
- The decision to play Philip Nelson at quarterback: Call me old fashioned, but if it isn’t broke don’t fix it. The offense wasn’t broken with Mitch Leidner, but it has been with Philip Nelson more than once this year. Aside from the New Mexico State game, the offense has struggled with Nelson under center.
- The offensive line: The Gophers rushed for 30 yards after coming into the game averaging 282 yards rushing. I understand that the sledding is going to be tougher in Big Ten play, but c’mon man. Nelson didn’t have a ton of time to throw either and the Iowa defensive line isn’t exactly filled with a bunch of household names. Really disappointing performance from the boys up front.
- The defensive line: Speaking of the Iowa defensive line, Minnesota’s line wasn’t much better. Iowa quarterback Jake Rudock wasn’t pressured enough. Meanwhile, Mark Weisman looked like Mike Alstott mostly because the holes he was running through were gigantic.
- The lack of playmakers on offense: I’m hearing opinions from people that the Gophers should redshirt Berkley Edwards. I think that’s foolish. Donnell Kirkwood, Rodrick Williams, and David Cobb are essentially the same physical backs that move the pile, but don’t have any home run hitting ability. So why not bring someone in that can take a small crease and race for 50-plus yards?
- The lack of leadership: I haven’t noticed a strong leader on this team. I think Brock Vereen and Aaron Hill are good leaders on the defense, but what about someone from the offensive side of the ball? Who has stepped up when the offense has been down?
- The run defense: Outside of a long screen pass for a touchdown, I thought the pass defense was fine. But the run defense gave up huge chunks of yardage to the Iowa running backs.
- A blown opportunity: This was yet another blown opportunity for the Gopher football program to generate interest from casual Minnesota sports fans. A 5-0 start and a win over a recognizable opponent would have gathered some attention. A win would have generated buzz. Another 2-6 season in the Big Ten or worse won’t get anyone’s attention. If anything, it will create more apathy.