Thursday, September 04, 2008

Minnesota Preview

Well, let's take a quick look at the Golden Gophers in advance of their first trip to the Doyt Saturday.

Phil Steele says they are going to be among the country's most improved teams, but still finish 10th in the Big 10 (second to last). Its not an entirely fearless prediction. They were pretty bad--they gotta get a little better.

They were adapting to a new system under Tim Brewster, who was modernizing the attack a little. So, you figured it might take some time. They're in the second year of the system now. Furthermore, they had a -15 turnover ratio last year, something that Steele feels portends a turn around. And 15 starters out of 22 were back.

Well, they have one game under their belt....and....well.....its apparently still a work in progress.

The Gophers were 1-10 last season, and they opened at home against NIU, who was 2-10 last year. Phil Steele also sees the Huskies having a comeback, so we may have to be cautious interpreting the result.

But the simple fact is that Minnesota scored with :22 left to avoid a second season-opening defeat to a MAC at HHH. They barely beat NIU.

There were some bright spots. Their QB Adam Weber is a strong dual threat player and he was 24-37 against NIU. The Gophers had 4.1 yards per rush, and only turned the ball over once--though that was late in the game, a costly time.

Even more...NIU is a running team, but they averaged only 2.3 yards per run. Their major weakness that NIU had completed 17 passes for 326 yards, a stunning average rate.

Their offense also went cold just when they had taken a 24-13 lead in the 3rd quarter, punting three times and fumbling once on their next four possessions.

It sounds like the only thing worse than that would have been to lose.

Again, NIU may be lots better. But, it can't be entirely comforting to the Gophers.

Duane Bennett is a good player, he averaged 5.1 yards per carry against NIU.

My first prediction was that I thought we would win the game and I still think that. But, Minnesota will be looking for a payback after last year's game, and won't be impressed by even a sell-out crowd at the Doyt. They have playmakers on offense and they are big.

They are perfectly capable of getting the win if we don't play well and take care of the football.

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