In case you missed it, the Gophers dropped their final game of the season and final game ever in the dome in memorable fashion.
When listening to Kirk Ferentz post game I think he accurately described the Gopher's season while talking about his own.
“I think in football typically you get what you deserve. We didn’t deserve to win those four games. We turned the ball over, we didn’t make the play or whatever it may be."
"That is your resume, that’s our resume, we finished up with eight (ed: seven for the Gophers) and that’s the best we could do.”
He was obviously referrering to Iowa's four close losses earlier in the season, but it is appropriate for the Gopher's final four losses. In their final 16 quarters they played one well enough to win. The 55-0 loss was just the exclamation point.
The things Brewster said in his press conference were all true on some level. We are better than a year ago, we have to be able to run the ball, we are not physical enough and we have a long way yet to go. But what he was not willing to admit to is that this team has plateaued while the rest of the conference is getting better as they go.
It is really tricky to give the defense a pass when they gave up 55 48 points and 483 yards, but once again the offense didn't do their job putting the defense in tough situations early and often. Weber played mediocre and the running game was beyond awful. The defense fared well through the first quarter giving up only three points and putting Iowa in third down situations often. In that same quarter the offense mustered just over 20 yards and three punts on three possessions. The defense can only bend so far and when they were on the field for 2/3 of the first half eventually the Iowa offense got into a rythm that we couldn't stop.
I'm not going to spend the bulk of this bashing the offense then bashing the defense nor am I going to find whatever silver lining I can possibly fine (Troy Stoudermire), this game was about our lack of competitiveness and preparedness from the very beginning.
It was clear that this team, particularly the offense, did not improve as the season went along. The offensive line lived on their excuse of being young all season but never got better. We found out today that OL coach, Phil Meyers has left the coaching staff and will of course be a scapegoat for this cog in the offensive let down.
There was incredible improvement from 2007 to 2008 on the defensive side of the ball and they played as well as we had hoped. But the offense regressed. It is easy to point out that we had fewer yards and fewer points but we regressed in other key areas as well. By my unofficial records we had exactly the same amount of possessions but had more three and outs, fewer offensive touchdowns and more punts (likely due to fewer turnovers).
|3rd Down %||43%||36%|
Despite greatly reducing turnovers we still managed to give the ball back to the opponent more often. The final three home games got progressively worse culminating in a 55-0 embarrassment.
I am not in to overreacting. You'll hear/read a lot of fire Dunbar, Weber is terrible, etc. I don't believe any of that to be true. But this offense cannot rely on youthfulness as an excuse next year and it will have to be better. Weber reduced turnovers, has shown a lot of toughness and leadership but he'll have to get better. Dunbar at times had some very good gameplans but his playbook will have to be more creative and a running game must be discovered. Consistency and improvement are a must for next year and from Dunbar on down to the players people will have to be held reponsible.
There are reasons to be optimistic about 2009, but just relying on improvement because these guys will be 12 months older isn't going to be enough. The list of improvements needed is for another post, but the Gophers could get things going in the right direction by taking steps toward improvement in their bowl game, wherever that may be.