Most demoralizing loss since Iowa ’13.
— Cash4Claeys (@MVofDT) October 3, 2015
Yep. This one was bad. The improved offense we saw last week that gave us hope was nowhere to be found. The more creative playcalling from last week felt like it was left back in Minneapolis. The defense had to spend far too much time out on the field and the result was predictable. The result is a game where everyone leaves feeling pretty terrible.
Honestly, that's underselling how horrible this game feels. What can I say, I'm an optimist at heart.
Normally I try to recap a game in 3-5 bullet points. Not today. I'm going to go much more free-form today. I'd like to say you'll enjoy the change, but you probably won't.
Where do we go from here?
It's easy to call this a lost season already. I wouldn't blame you. Plenty of frustrating things going on here. The team's strength, their defense, is the hardest hit by injuries. And while it's easy to stop with that statement, the fact is the offense is killing the defense by not sustaining any drives. But throwing in the towel on the season isn't anyone's favorite choice given that this is a competitive sport. So what's the answer?
Before I go any farther I'm going to make one thing clear. THERE IS NO ONE THING WRONG. Days like today don't happen because of one player, one scheme, etc. The struggles you see are pretty all encompassing and whatever the team chooses to do from here on out could fail for a variety of reasons. If it was easy, it would probably be fixed already.
All that said, it certainly feels like there are two choices.
1) Muddle through: You keep playing Mitch and you try to get healthy. There are actually some arguments to this approach. They are not easy or fun to make, but I'm going to try. First, this team is good enough to win as they are. They just aren't consistent about how they play. This approach is betting that things will be good more often then they are bad. Second, if the defense can get healthy it has the ability to keep this team in the games it can win (let's not be crazy here, Ohio State is out of reach). Third, this protects the health and psyche of the team's future. When argument #1 is that this team COULD be good enough to win more as it is built right now, there is an unspoken assumption that there is still plenty wrong with the Gophers. Putting Demry into that could result in the Gophers ruining their "QB of the future" before the future is even here. Honestly, of the 3 the third might actually be the strongest. It's also the least satisfying.
NOTE: While I was in the middle of writing about choice #1, Coach Kill pulled Demry Croft's redshirt and he has played 3 series so far. None of them have been overly impressive. What this means for next week and beyond is unknown. We have reached DEFCON 1 for #QBGAZE2015.
2) Play for the future. This is the "bench Mitch and play Demry the rest of the way" option. The upside is the hope that the offense with Demry is better than with Mitch. There is really no way to evaluate that yet, though the early returns against Northwestern aren't promising. The downside is that you risk hurting Demry's health and development/psyche all to watch the Gophers only win 6 games or lose as many as they would have with Mitch. We'll have lots more to discuss on this front in the coming days, but for now I'm going to say I hope that what we say in the 4th quarter today is not a sign for the rest of the season if this is the option the coaching staff chooses.
This was a bad game. Let's be good to each other and hope it gets better.