Last TMP was pleased with the win yet we still had some questions at quarterback. This week I'm still pleased with the win and we still have questions at quarterback. But I'm not going to dwell on that, lets look forward. This week is one of the two really pivotal games on the schedule in my opinion and should give us a very good indication of where this team is really at.
After facing an FCS school and a Conference USA member, it is time for the Gophers to step up the competition and hit the road to face a team at or above their level. You know the schedule gets real when you face a team that actually has an SBN Blog. Texas Christian University is a good team in a good conference. This is the first non-conference, BCS opponent we have faced on the road since Kill's first game as Minnesota's head coach in 20111 when he got to open the season at USC. I am sure he sent a thank you card to Coach Brew for that one.
Whatever we think we learned about this team in the first two weeks is back up for judgement in week 3. The rushing attack has been pretty good and the defense has proven to be pretty good as well. But now we get to see strength on strength as this rushing attack faces a very good opposition defense. And the Gopher defense has the task of stopping an offensive unit with more playmakers on the other side of the line. Particularly the Gopher secondary vs. the TCU passing game which mayh be another strength on strength match-up.
But this Monday Perspective is much less about the match-ups and much more about what this game is going to tell us and what should our expectations be (or at least what are my expectations).
As we all know, the Big Ten took a beating this past weekend. The teams at the top who faced off against other BCS caliber teams all lost. A few teams were able to snatch a win from the jaws of defeat from the likes of McNeese State and Ball State. And there were TWO Big Ten teams who dropped a game to a MAC school. The Gophers have thus far remained above fray of "Big Ten mediocrity 2014". This week though, they have to put themselves up against a BCS conference opponent. TCU is projected to be a middle-of-the-pack Big 12 team (probably on top of the middle, just below the top tier). The Gophers are likely a middle-of-the-pack Big Ten team who, at least right now, look to be pushing for the top of the middle as well.
So what should our expectations be for this coming contest?
First of all, I do not expect that the Gophers are going to come out of Texas with a win on Saturday. TCU is a good team. They are at home. They had 2 weeks to prepare for the Gophers while only have to put one week of game on film for the Gopher staff to review. And the Gopher struggles with the passing game makes us far too one-dimensional.
Secondly, I have the expectation that the things we currently do well, we continue to do well. Maybe we lose because when it matters we can't move the ball through the air. But throughout the game, I would really like to continue to see us run the ball well. Defensively I'd like to continue to see us making plays on balls, hitting hard and generating turnovers. If we lose, let it be because the things we already struggle with continues to be a struggle. But the things we do well? I expect that we can execute those things against at team like TCU.
I also have the expectation that this game should be competitive and close. My expectation is that we are able to demonstrate that we are solid team who can compete with other BCS conference schools. We should be able to hold our own along the line of scrimmage and we have some playmakers who should be able to do some damage. In short...I expect us to play well and give TCU everything they can handle. I expect that we will be in this game, late into the 4th quarter but will come up short when we need to drive the ball near the end. Are those expectations too low for a team in Year 4? Are the too high considering our one-dimensionality and first road contest of the season?
A loss is not damaging to this season or the program. A win would be a nice boost, but a loss isn't the end of the world. The only way I see us coming out poorly this coming weekend is if things get out of hand, the ball bounces in TCU's favor or we just get beat and beat soundly.
We are certainly capable of coming away with a win. But I want to see from this game that we are continuing to take strides as a program. I want a win, I want to be talking next Monday about the significance of beating TCU on the road. But my perspective today is just show me what you've got. Give the Horned Frogs all they can handle and lets see how things shake out in the 4th quarter.