194 team rushing yards is a nice number, this is what the Gopher offense had at halftime. The read-option, Golden-I and David Cobb cutbacks were rather effective today as the Gopher offense run over, around and through San Jose State for 353 yards en route to a 43-24 win. Mitch Leidner tied a Gopher record with 4 rushing touchdowns to go with this 151 yards. David Cobb rushed for 125 yards with 2 touchdowns and a 5.0 yard per carry average. And Rodrick Williams Jr was also in on the party with 60 yards on 15 carries.
Our excellence on the ground and at the line of scrimmage led to a lot of yards, 43 points and total domination of time of possession.
But that was only half of the story. The Gopher defense had the unenviable task of facing San Jose State's NFL caliber quarterback. David Fales looked the part of a future 1st or 2nd round draft pick making some beautiful throws and keeping the Spartans in this game through 2 quarters. At the half Fales was 12/16 for 294 yards, 2 touchdowns and had his team within a FG. Then half time happened and it was a completely different story in the final two quarters.
At the half the Gophers clung to a 17-20 lead. But the entire feel of the game changed in the 3rd quarter. This is when the Gopher defense stopped SJSU, the offense was ground out 10 first downs, 109 yards and 1 play into the 4th quarter we pushed the lead to 36-17. The game turned from close to one of desperation for the Spartans.
The Spartans had 3 possessions in that quarter. The first one ended with an Aaron Hill pick on the 2nd play, returning it to the SJSU 12. The next two drives were three and outs. Fales was 1/6, threw for 9 yards and a pick in the quarter. Time of possession for the quarter favored the Gophers 12:12 to 2:48!
The big Gopher win and the 3rd quarter turning point should not diminish the brilliance of David Fales, he is very talented and it was a lot of fun to watch him make some brilliant throws. This kid was making NFL caliber throws all day long and he finished the game 22/34 for 439 yards and 3 TDs. I don't think it is out of line to suggest that he is the best QB we will face all season.
But this day belonged to the Mitch Leidner and the Gopher offense. Leidner tied a Gopher record with 4 rushing touchdowns and was 23 yards shy of MarQues Gray's Gopher single game rushing record. He fought hard for extra yards, sometimes making us nervous that we might lose another QB to injury. But according to Coach Kill he is a tough kid, who fights for the extra yard.
"That's not who he is. ...you can't change a kid. You've got to get the extra yard."
The passing game was still unimpressive, but when you dominate the line of scrimmage and if your opponent cannot stop the run you keep running it.
Defensively Ra'Shede Hageman was big along the defensive line including a big tackle for loss in the 2nd half. But my defensive gameball goes to De'Vondre Campbell who started at OLB, forced a big 1st half fumble and led the Gophers with 6 tackles including a TFL. Coach Kill pointed out what an athlete he is, "He's a good-looking athlete, fun to watch! ... Every time he eats, he gets a little bigger." You could also choose to go with Jeremy Baltazar who tipped both passes that were intercepted.
This was a well executed gameplan by the Gophers. The offense was able to keep the Spartan defense off balance with different types of runs and finished the game with a 5.3 yard average. And more importantly they kep the SJSU offense off the field. Time of possession was slightly in favor of the Gophers 41:02 to 18:58. Defensively the Gophers went with more safety help in the 2nd half and were able to get more pressure on Fales to slow him down.
Another big scoring day and the Gophers are off to the 4-0 start most of us anticipated. Up next is hate week. The Hawkeyes come to town and they are bringing Floyd with them. His room has been kept just as it was when he left it and we will welcome him home. Bring on Hate Week...Who hates Iowa?