Judging by the number people in a half empty TCF Bank Stadium today (announced crowd: 48,300. Um, I think they mixed up the 4 and the 3), as well as the season low number of comments in our game thread today, interest in Gopher Football's onfield exploits are not exactly at an all-time high. And sitting in section 243 row 24 of today's game...I can't really blame people.
With a new coach, and seemingly a new attitude, the Gophs still managed the same old result, losing to Penn State 33-21 (I do believe they covered the spread again, however) in a game that wasn't as close as the score would indicate. I wondered what differences, if any, we'd see with Brewster gone and Horton in his place, and the answer we got was: not many. I did like Thomas Hammock's playcalling today, as despite the low point total, the Gophs still racked up close to 500 yards offense, and did so by throwing the ball much more, and much earlier, than in the previous six games. If that continues for the last four games, they'll at least be watchable.
More about Da'Jon McKnight, Adam Weber, and more after the jump...
Da'Jon McKnight proved today he might be the best receiver in the Big Ten, as he flat dominated whomever Penn State tried to throw at him. If only Weber would have thrown at him more, as he finished with 8 catches for 103 yards and 3- count 'em- THREE touchdowns. His career game today has to have every coaching candidate salivating at what they can do with him next year. And imagine when we get a more accurate QB throwing him the ball. Sure, Weber became only the fifth BIg Ten QB ever to throw for more than 10,000 yards in his career. And from what we saw of his performance today, it proves that just about any Big Ten QB could throw for 10,000 yards if he got as many starts as Weber has had. He completed only 53% of his passes today, and while he had a few nice throws, including the three TD passes to McKnight, he was off target all day long. Just as he's been for most of his career. Time after time a collective grown would come from the crowd as Weber either threw to short, too long, or behind an open receiver. I know he's been through a lot in his four years here, but I will not miss him as our starting QB. As a matter of fact, now that the Gophers are officially out of bowl contention with their seventh loss, I'd love to see them start MarQueis Gray the rest of the season. I know it won't happen, but I'd love to see it.
Defensively, things looked better, especially in the first half. The run D looked stout, and they hung in there well. The back breaker for the defense, and the game, were two horrible pass interference calls against the Gophers that helped Penn State to a touchdown they did not deserve. So instead of a field goal and a 10-7 Nittany Lion lead it was 14-7. The Gophers answered with a good drive, and then Weber threw one of his worst passes of the day (which is saying something) as he underthrew a receiver (who was double covered by the way) by 10 yards, and had it picked and returned to midfield. The very next play Penn State stomped on the GOphers' throats with a 42 yard TD pass. 21-7 Nitts. Momentum gone. Ball game.
Minny got as close as 21-14 in the third, but then Penn State simply wore down our defense, and that was it. Evan Royster got rolling, then someone named Silas Redd came in for the fourth quarter and refused to be tackled, rushing 9 times for 71 yards. That was more than enough for Penn State to coast to victory, and what few Gopher fans that showed up exited early.
Yet another loss, and one that probably guarantees Minnesota won't win a game at home this season. Hell we might not win another game the rest of the season. Still, GN made the call Friday for Gopher fans to be positive, so I'll leave you with three positive thoughts:
1) Can you freaking imagine Da'Jon in Mike Leach's offense next year?
2) Only four more games with Adam Weber as our quarterback.
3) Iowa lost.