Gopher Football vs. UNLV: 20 things that stood out


Aug 29, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers wide receiver Isaac Fruechte (14) breaks away from UNLV Rebels defensive back Frank Crawford (5) in the first quarter at TCF Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Hardcore college football fans wake up the day of the first game of the season feeling like a little kid on Christmas morning.  They anxiously run down the stairs and look under the tree to see what Santa Claus has left.  Gopher football fans in general, find our stockings filled with lumps of coal.

Yet despite not being on our best behavior most years we optimistically, maybe even blindly, look forward to the start of the season thinking this year will be different.  There is a chance Santa will leave us that shiny “rose-colored” bike we have asked the past 50 years for.  Most years however, we are left with mediocre toys like the, Music City, and Insight Bowls.

Most Gopher fans were on their best behavior this year.  We finished our homework, behaved in school, and helped the old lady across the street. We felt like this year, Jerry Kill’s third year, had the potential to be special.

When we got our first peek at the toys under the tree last Thursday, it left us feeling sort of hollow.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with a sweater and a nice pair of jeans, it’s just not that sexy.  A 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Marcus Jones, an 89-yard interception return for a touchdown by Briean Boddy-Calhoun and a Ra’shede Hageman blocked field goal that was followed up by Martez Shabazz scooping up the loose ball and racing for six, aren’t bad things.

Great special teams play is necessary, like socks and sweaters and jeans.

Something about that 28 point win just didn’t sit right with me.  The defense improved in the second half and the offense moved the ball when it needed to, but man it just felt like something was missing.  Like maybe a speedy Berkley Edwards?  Or a shutdown corner like Derrick Wells.

Bottom line, if the Gophers continue to play like they did against UNLV, there is a very good chance they won’t win a Big Ten game all year.

10 things I liked about the first game:

–          Alex Keith getting a sack

–          Ra’shede Hageman making plays

–          Marcus Jones game changing speed on kick returns

–          Coaching adjustments made after the first half

–          Maxx Williams’ catch in the corner of the end zone at  the end of the first half

–          Justin Cobb showing a pulse

–          Seeing Jerry Rice Jr. making catches for UNLV

–          Jerry Kill looking healthy roaming the sideline

–          The lack of penalties

–          Ball-hawking plays and big plays from the offense, defense, and special teams

10 things I didn’t like about the first game:

–          The opening series for the defense

–          Tim Cornett running 26 yards untouched for a touchdown

–          Allowing Nick Sherry to complete 70 percent of his passes

–          Donnell Kirkwood’s ankle injury

–          The lack of pop from Kirkwood before the injury

–          The play of the linebackers

–          The attendance (just 44,217) and the fact the student section wasn’t completely full

–          I don’t see a No. 1 receiver on this team and that’s bothersome

–          The lack of a pass rush outside of Alex Keith’s sack

–          Philip Nelson’s accuracy