It's week 4, which means it's the last week that our friends on the gnome bench stop by to help provide a touch of snark to this preview. Thanks guys!
As for the snark? The gnomes are looking at San Jose State like this:
San Jose State will be a speed bump. That's not to say they'll be pushovers or that the Gophers will fly right by them. Remember that even the finest car can take it's lumps from a speedbump when it's not careful (or when it can't pass). The gnomes simply expect the Gophers to keep on rolling to 3-1 after some sparks. Hopefully no more dents, dings though. We've seen enough of those.
Light Pre-Preview Reading
Date: Saturday, September 20th
Kickoff Time: 3 PM CT
Where: TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
TV: Big Ten Network
Streaming Video: BTN2Go
IMPORTANT BTN2GO UPDATE:
Radio: KFAN (100.3 in the Twin Cities) and the Gopher Radio Network (Radio Affiliates).
Streaming Audio: Locate KFAN on IHeartRadio (or the IHeartRadio app for your mobile device)
Satellite Radio: SiriusXM 196; Sirius 113; XM 196
For the tailgate:
For the postgame party:
Hopefully that rain holds off.
Where Are They From? San Jose, CA
The Gophers did a fairly good job in limiting David Fales last season in their victory. Whomever the new quarterback will be for SJSU will not be nearly as difficult to stop. The Gophers should be able to control the game running over the Spartans. If their pass defense has not improved, this may also be the game to see Leidner try and air a few out and try and work out some kinks before the Big Ten season begins the following week. Defensively, the Gophers should be able to contain the Spartan run game, and limit big plays. They may be bitter after a tough game the week before, and the Spartans may end up being the unfortunate receiver of the taking out of some frustrations.
Based on what we heard today from Jeremy Mauss of Mountain West Connection, I think gopherguy05 was quite prescient in his pre-season thoughts:
The passing game with Blake Jurich is doing reasonably well by being accurate by completing 73 percent of his passes but has just four touchdown and two interceptions. The offense is in the lower half of the Mountain West and that is expected with the loss of quarterback David Fales and that is probably where they likely will finish.
I'll go in between because it would be hard press for the San Jose State rush defense to be worse than it was last year. It really should be better since the Spartans get back linebacker Vince Buhagiar who missed all of 2012 with an injury, and in fact most of the starting defense is back. Yet, that rush defense was extremely bad last year by giving up 215 yards per game last year and gave up 353 yards to Minnesota, and for the year they had five games where they gave up 250 or more yards on the ground including a season high of 432 against Navy.
2014 Season to Date:
1-1, with a the long victory coming over a less than dominant North Dakota (note the lack of STATE in the name) squad. The loss was a shellacking by Auburn, which means nothing because that's what they were paid for.
Head Coach: Ron Caragher (2nd year; 7-7). The guy SJSU picked to replace the best coach the program may have ever had (may not be factual, don't care enough to check). 6-6 and a bowl game was better than many first seasons and like many first years Caragher's had it's share of adversity. Namely, injuries. On the positive side he was able to do great things with David Fales. So yea, not bad. Reason to Hate Him? Um...I've got nothing. Scheme? Pass first offense (thought not as much as you'd expect) and THE GERG on defense. ALL HAIL THE GERG. Seriously though, I'm just going to assume their defense is awful because it has Greg Robinson leading it.giant grain of salt rule applies since they've played one terrible team and one really good team.
1) Blake Jurich (QB - Grad Student): 38/52 (.731) for 468 yards, 4 TD's, 2 INT's. Crazy looking stat line right? 73% passing and there's a game with Auburn? Well, when you go 22-25 against North Dakota that'll happen. In any case, if the Gophers lose it will likely be because they didn't stop this guy.
2) Tyler Winston (WR - Sophomore): 15 catches for 146 yards and 2 TD's. Tyler currently accounts for a third of the Spartans receptions (no other receiver has more than 5) and yards (no one else has over 90). Eric Murray? You're up.
3) Forrest Hightower (S - Grad Student): 12 tackles (5 solo), leads team in tackles for loss with 3. Highlighting Hightower because I love his name and because a safety leading the team in TFL jumped out at me.
Keys to the Game:
- Dominate the line of scrimmage. No being pushed around in the run game. If they stop our backs, it should be because they are using numbers, not because the line can't open holes. I mean, I don't want either but the latter is at least understandable. On defense, generate a pass rush and don't get gashed by the run. The latter will be especially important if we start selling out against the pass.
- No turnovers. Just don't do it. I don't care who is throwing or carrying the ball. Don't cough it up.
- Have some success passing the ball. Just a little bit. Pretty please?
How Afraid Am I?
On a scale of 1 to 5 "Brewsters on his face" (1 being not a afraid, 5 being very afraid)?
2 Tim Brewsters sprawled on the turf.
I'm confident the Gophers will put this one away. I'm not confident that it will be as pretty as we'd like.
Completely Worthless Prediction:
Pretty or not, I think the Gophers win by a number closer to Matt's model than Vegas. Minnesota 31, San Jose State 14.