Let's start by reviewing the TDG staff's predictions for the Minnesota versus Syracuse game, which ended with a 23-20 Minnesota victory:
GN: Syracuse is not as bad as they were last year, but Paulus will still be adjusting to game speed and the team will struggle early. Gophers win by double digits.
BB: The betting line has the Gophers at about 7 point favorites over the Orange, and I think Syracuse will beat the spread but lose the game. Gophers win 28-24. (1-0 record)
JG: I get the feeling it'll take about one quarter for the Gophers to figure out Paulus and this offense. By the fourth quarter, Paulus will probably be wishing he was back on the Duke bench. Minnesota will win this game by at least 25 points. (1-0).
Based upon the first game, the following points highlight some of the the positive and negative perspectives from TDG, our game thread, and the post game radio show:
- The offense was predictable and ineffective for most of the second and third quarters. Minnesota failed to establish the run.
- Whether due to play calling or quarterbacking, Adam Weber continues to telegraph passes to Eric Decker and had trouble finding secondary options when the primary receiver was covered.
- The offense did not make aggressive play calls until under pressure in the fourth quarter. Conservative play calling may hinder the Gophers in future matchups.
- While Weber performed strongly down the stretch, several of his passes were erratic.
- Lack of an effective pass rush. Losing Willie VanDeSteeg to the NFL may hurt the team in 2009.
- Duane Bennett left the game in overtime clutching his shoulder. This could be a devastating injury if it is serious.
- DEFENSE. The defense gave up a few big plays, but did a spectacular job of adjusting to the Syracuse offense as the game progressed. Cosgrove and Lee got the job done.
- KICKING. Despite one bad field goal attempt, both the kicking and punting was strong for Minnesota. This bodes well for future close games. Eric Ellestad was cool under pressure with his last two field goals.
- LEE CAMPBELL. Campbell was dominant at linebacker, and appears to have improved greatly from a solid 2008 season. Look for him to become the leader of the defensive squad on the field.
- ERIC DECKER. Minnesota would have lost without him. He's back to his top form after finishing last season with some wear and tear.
- TROY STOUDERMIRE. Despite a bad decision late in the game on a punt return, Stoudermire appears to be a great kick returner and a solid option at receiver.