Minnesota Football: Win over MTSU... What we thought we knew, What we found out

Welcome back to a world where you wake up the day after a Gopher game and feel slightly empty that it's past... but immediately get excited for next week.

This was a good win over what is considered to be a very solid MTSU Blue Raiders squad. This game had its ups and downs, but in the end it's hard to argue with the fact that the Gophers did what they planned to do and, outside of a glitch called the 2nd quarter that I'd prefer to forget ever happened, they pretty well dominated this football game.

After the jump we'll take a look at what we thought we knew coming into the MTSU tilt, and what we now know with the game having been played.

What we thought we knew:

We knew that the Gophers were talking about being committed to the run, but after having said the same thing last year, we weren't ready to believe it until we saw it.

What we found out:

We saw it. Boy, did we see it! 11 runs for 79 yards and a TD on the opening drive. I loved the "Hey, Blue Raiders, we're going to run... try to stop us" mentality of the play calling. Reminded me of the Michigan game at the Metrodome in 2006 when the Wolverines sent Mike Hart off-tackle left 6 of the first 8 plays of the game in what amounted to Michigan exerting its will on the Gophers.

We found out that the Gophers could control the line of scrimmage, run the ball in short yardage situations, and had a glimpse of the home-run capability of Bennett. Now look, I realize MTSU isn't USC or Ohio State and maybe isn't even on par with the Northwesterns & Michigan States of the Big Ten Conference. But you cannot argue with the production of the running game.

66 rushing attempts out of 84 total plays
281 rushing yards
4.2 yards/carry
Over 45 minutes time of possession

What we thought we knew:

We thought we had a pretty talented defense, but we were a little nervous about how that talent was going to come together.

What we found out:

I am still a little nervous about how that talent is going to come together. And when I say "I," I mean "we." As in "we are all a little nervous," as in, "if you aren't nervous then you weren't watching the same game that I did.

I was specifically highly disappointed in our lack of pass rush. We appeared to have almost no ability to get to Kilgore which made his life a lot easier. When Because Kilgore had time to throw he was able to find seems in our inexperienced secondary.

That defensive line might be an issue because when they weren't putting pressure on Kilgore, they were allowing the Blue Raiders to average 6.6 yards/carry. Without question some of that falls on the linebackers (good heavens, what was wrong with Tinsley... he forgot how to tackle for a night), but no matter how you slice it the holes that the MTSU RB's were running through were often massive.

What we thought we knew:

We thought Adam Weber would be more comfortable, and therefore more productive, in Jeff Horton's simplified offensive scheme.

What we found out:

We found out that we're going to need some more time to determine this. Weber looked shaky early in the game and seemed uncomfortable. But he began to settle down and while the running game was carrying the bulk of the load, the passing game added to the balance of the offense and didn't kill drives, something that we saw a lot of last year. I think that if we're judging Weber's performance based on how it fit within the larger game plan, we couldn't have asked for a better game from Weber.

GN and I got into a quick debate during the live game thread about Weber's accuracy. While I reserve the right to complain about specific throws because I continue to maintain that we should be able to expect better accuracy from a 4 year starter, I will admit that Weber had an efficient game and did a good job of complimenting the game plan that was clearly intended to be run heavy from the beginning.

What we thought we knew:

We thought Duane Bennett would be back at full speed and be a much more complete back after a difficult 2009 in which he was still slowed by 2008's knee injury.

What we found out:

Sweet sassy-molassy Duane Bennett is BACK!!! Remember how excited we were about this guy in '08 before his injury in the Bowling Green game? Take that amount of excitement and multiply it by 5. Bennett looks quick, fast, shifty, confident, sure footed, and, maybe best of all, violent. The young man just refused to go down all night long. He was fighting for every inch that he possibly could. Now that he has his full capacities Bennett appears to be ready to take over the "feature back" duties and run over, around, and through defenders on his way to doing so.

All things considered, outside of a 7 minute stretch at the end of the 2nd quarter, this was a very dominating performance by the Gophers and clearly there has been some improvement in the running game that we can be excited about.

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