I can already feel a certain Star Tribune writer's spin on the Gophers victory Saturday afternoon.
No, the Gophers did not play as well as they could have. But what would you rather have; a well played defeat or an ugly victory? I think 100% of you would unquestionably take the latter. As Herm Edwards once said, "You play to win the game!"
He said this under a different context, but the point stays true. You don't play to impress the supposed pundits and talking heads. You play to win the game!
That being said, some will still look at this as a negative rather than a positive. The Gophers committed some turnovers, missed a field goal, and settled for more field goals than touchdowns. But this is all they needed to do to win the game.
The defense was exceptional less one big play. They completely shutdown a spread offense with an athletic quarterback. They forced turnovers when they needed them. They held the Hoosiers to just 10 first downs the entire game--one which was meaningless on the last play of the game. That final play also gained 47 yards which makes the final yardage tally a bit misleading.
Despite only 16 points from the offense, it wasn't as bad as it may seem. They lacked the explosive plays that Brewster has been preaching, but they did enough to control the ball and the game. 23 first downs, 37+ minutes of possession, and five scoring drives (one ended in a chip shot missed field goal--but the offense moved the ball which is the point) all point to a successful week. The Hoosiers had one scoring drive.
The cynics last week said that the 34-21 defeat in Columbus last week was not indicative of how (un)close the game was. Likewise, this game against Indiana wasn't indicative of how much better we played than Indiana. Let's not forget that this is one of the youngest teams in the nation and there is still room to improve. Now that the first-Big-Ten-win monkey is off the back, there is reason to be optimistic in the Brewster era.
Looking forward in the short-term, we have Illinois next week. While they just got done whipping Michigan in their own house, they were the beneficiaries of some key fumbles in the second half. But after facing Pryor last week and shutting down Lewis this week, there is reason for believing next week against Juice Williams.
Sure, we beat Indiana by ONLY 16-7. Illinois ONLY beat Louisiana Lafayette 20-17 earlier this year. I'm not saying the Gophers will go into Illinois and win, but they have showed they are capable of winning--even using today as evidence.