For those of you who have experienced long-term memory loss or are not old enough to remember, this is what you are supposed to do to FCS teams. The Gophers played like a Big Ten should play against even a good FCS team like New Hampshire.
The first half was a series of big plays for the Gophers en route to a 30-7 halftime lead.
- Big Play #1 - The Wildcat's first drive was a three-and-out that resulted in a safety for Minnesota when the UNH longsnapper snapped the ball over the punter's head.
- Big Play #2 - Troy Stoudermire returns the kick-off 48 yards giving the Gophers great field position.
- Big Play #3 - Gray to Isaac Fruechte for a 27-yard touchdown. And after these three consecutive plays the Gophers lead 9-0.
Near the end of the first quarter New Hampshire finally put together a drive where they put the Gopher defense on their heels to get themselves back into the game. An eight play drive covering 76 yards resulted in a Chris Setian touchdown for the Wildcats. But that was as close as UNH would get.
- Big Play #4 - the first play from scrimmage after the Wildcat touchdown was a 75-yard run by MarQueis Gray. KJ Maye motioned into the backfield for a read-option rush. Gray kept the ball and went untouched, outrunning the Wildcat defense. 16-7 Gophers.
- Big Play #5 - After stopping New Hampshire on 4th down, Minnesota took over. The big play was a 33-yard play to John Rabe with Gray having all day to scan the field and find a wide open Rabe. That play set up a short 2-yard pass to Rabe on the next play for a touchdown. 23-7 Gophers.
- Big Play #6 - 3rd and 9 for the Wildcats, DL Wilhite sacked Andy Vailas forcing a fumble (picture of sack) recovered by Michael Amaefula. Three plays later the Gophers score on a Gray rush. 30-7 Gophers.
The second half opened with a long, time consuming drive by the Gophers to essentially kill the will New Hampshire. 16 plays, 85 yards and 8:16 taken off the clock. Donnell Kirkwood finished if off with a 2-yard rush. 37-7 Minnesota. And from that point on it was pretty much running time. The second string defense, Max Shortell and many other second string guys played the entire fourth quarter. Logan Hutton, Victor Keise and Ryan Grant sightings were observed in the fourth quarter. It has been a long time since we have been able to sub-down and get some live snaps for those who don't typically get to play.
Game balls should go to a number of guys.
- MarQueis Gray - Answered a number of the questions he forced to ask after last week. He did most of his damage on the ground but through the air he was highly efficient. 6/8 passing, 100 yards through the air and two more passing touchdowns. Those aren't record setting numbers but what more are you going to ask for on only eight attempts. On the ground he had 109 yards and two more touchdowns. No real mistakes and a very good game from our senior quarterback.
- Martez Shabazz - the JUCO corner made a great pick in the third quarter. His man was running a deep post, Shabazz was right in his hip pocket the entire route and he went up to get the deep pass, highpointing the ball better than the receiver. The next series he closed quickly on a pass in the flat to break up the pass. Shabazz showed some play-making ability.
- The Defensive Line - four sacks in the first half and pressure all day long. Back-up QB, Andy Vailas was getting hit high and low all day long. Ra'Shede Hageman notched two sacks in the first half, DL Wilhite with a sack and forced fumble. It was the second game in a row where the DL gave a good showing.
I wasn't too thrilled with the running game. Gray was great but Kirkwood and Gillum combined for 22 carries and 77 yards. i was expecting more. But I'm really searching for things to nitpick about now.
This game was never in doubt and we should be yawning at this result. This is what should be expected. Sadly this has not been the case over the last several seasons. I'm not willing to look at this win as a statement that the program is "back". This was a nice win, we did what we should have done and we need to continue to get better. Western Michigan will be a much bigger test. Great win, we have a three-game winning streak, a beautiful day and we played much better today than we did last week.