Well, I'm not sure even the most positive MInnesota fans expected a romp at Bowling Green like this. Before I turn off the computer for a day of begging my fantasy team to produce, I thought I'd run through a list of good and bad from a surprising Saturday night.
- Adam Weber was 21 for 25 for 233 yards, three TDs and no interceptions. He converated on a key 4th down pass in the third quarter when the game was still in doubt. Much improved from a season ago against Bowling Green, when a then redshirt freshman Weber turned the ball over.
- During the live blog last night, I kept writing that Weber needed another receiving option to compliment Eric Decker. That came from Duane Bennett who grabbed 8 catches for 100 yards and a score. Bennett also ran the ball 14 times for 49 yards before exiting with an injury. We'll update you when we hear more about his health.
- The Minnesota defense swarmed to the ball. The defense forced four fumbles, made six tackles for a loss and Tramaine Brock grabbed his first interception as a Gopher when the game was in doubt.
- Ted Roof's gameplan called for the use of a 3-4 defense. On occasion, the Gophers sent an extra rusher from this alignment. But the larger result was Minnesota's ability to stop the big plays we feared.
- Ball control. For those who don't like the spread because it's supposedly too pass-oriented, well, Mike Dunbar showed otherwise. Minnesota ran 45 times for 186 yards. Weber threw 25 passes. That's run heavy, and was a needed component against a BGSU team that could move the ball.
- The Gophers smelled blood and finished. Aided by a turnover prone Falcons team, Minnesota took advantage of its opportunities to put up 21 points in the fourth quarter to run away.
- Eric Decker was the best player on the field. Six catches for 86 yards and two touchdowns (one rushing, one receiving).
- Kick coverage. Minnesota did a fantastic job giving BGSU a long field after kickoffs. Jay Thomas forced the most important fumble of the game on coverage.
- Two wins. One more than last year. Congrats to Brewster and the team.
- Aside from Decker and Bennett, no receiver other than Ben Kuznia caught more than one ball. Freshman Brandon Green, Xzavian Brandon and JUCO transfer David Pittman saw action, but didn't see a pass come their way. Weber needs other wide receiving options. On the rare times he forced something, he was locked on Decker too long.
- During a hard-fought first half, the Minnesota defense remained susceptible to various types of bubble screens. The huge play didn't result, but this should be a focus of Roof's defense. With the vast majority of Big Ten team's employing the spread offense, this is a play we need to learn to stop.
- While the 3-4 defense might have helped stop the big play, Minnesota still rarely put pressure on BGSU's Tyler Sheehan. For most of the game, Sheehan picked apart the Minnesota secondary. He was 29 for 44 for 261 yards.
- Injuries. Duane Bennett went down. Nedward Tavale also was hurt on the same play. And center Jeff Tow-Arnett was banged up as well. Injuries are a part of the game, but Minnesota needs all three to be healthy.
- BGSU's Diyral Biggs picked up three sacks by maneuvering outside around Dom Alford.
Conclusion: This was a much closer game then the score indicated. But the Gophers created and took advantage of opportunities. The defense still has a long way to go in terms of disrupting the flow of the opponent's offense, but there was some improvment here to be happy. Weber was efficient and calm under duress. But he needs a wide receiver to step up to compliment Decker, whether it's Kuznia, Spry or one of the newcomers. Great win. Minnesota made a statement. They should be able to go 4-0 in the non-conference slate. Did I just raise expectations for Brewster's second team?
What are your thoughts?