First, the most important thing.
Yes, the Gophers won and we are at 3-1 as we all thought they would be. Not how we expected it to be at the beginning of the season nor at the beginning of the game, but the Gophers did it. One more slide before I get to the meat of this article.
Ok, now to the meat of the article....its time for 3 Stars - 4 Quarters - 5 Thoughts.
This was pretty hard this week, many players had a good game. While the defense didn't have a great game, they still did what it took to win and individual players had great efforts. Despite that, this week is going to be an all-offense affair. Sorry D, we still love you.
Star 1 - All of the Blockers
At first I was going to give this just to the offensive line, they finally had a good game (even a very good game) despite all of the injuries, but this was more than just the OL. The running backs picked up blocks both behind the line and downfield, the wideouts also had good downfield blocking, and the two tight-ends in on many plays made sure that Mitch had the time he needed. Great effort all around, hope this continues.
Star 2 - Mitch Leidner
In 4th quarters this season, Leidner has a total QBR rating of 91.7, completing 30 passes for 337 yards and 2 TDs. pic.twitter.com/zh5NJbQoho— Minnesota Football (@GopherFootball) September 28, 2015
He had a couple balls early on that went too long, and another here and there, but overall he played a great game. When the game was on the line, he delivered. Yes, he had a near interception and if it had been intercepted he would have rightly gotten the blame. But it wasn't intercepted nor did Mitch fumble, instead he led drives. Minnesota only punted 3 times the entire game. Great job.
Leidner's rushing TD yesterday now ties him with Sandy Stephens for 2nd all-time rushing TDs by a QB with 18. pic.twitter.com/z8ygbhuxXq— Minnesota Football (@GopherFootball) September 28, 2015
Star 3 - All of the Freshmen who Stood Up
#Gophers freshmen accounted for 63% of teams total offense yesterday, as they racked up 297 of 468 total yards.— Minnesota Football (@GopherFootball) September 27, 2015
Take a bow. What about that Shannon Brooks! I did not see that one coming. He made us think back to the better parts of the Glen Masson era.
"He's an unflappable kid. If you didn't know he was a true freshman, you wouldn't know he's a true freshman." Limegrover on Shannon Brooks.— Minnesota Football (@GopherFootball) September 29, 2015
Yes, Shannon Brooks wowed us and got the glory, he deserved it, but Rodney Smith's earlier runs set him up for success.Smith was also great catching balls out of the backfield and made good blocks. He was also a great team player. If you listened to the post game press conference, you'll now that he was happy for Brook's success, he said he was more excited about Brook's first touchdown than his own. I believed him. These two guys together are going to be great, hope they both stay their full time at Minnesota.
"I think everyone got a good peak at the future." Coach Kill, on freshman RBs Shannon Brooks and Rodney Smith.— Minnesota Football (@GopherFootball) September 29, 2015
Lets not forget about the other freshmen, including the receivers. Isaiah Gentry, Rashad Still, and Melvin Holland Jr. all caught passes. I know people hate hearing "we are a young team" but at several positions its true. The looks a little brighter this week.
"You could see it on Sunday, he had a smile on his face and was feeling good." Limegrover, on Isaiah Gentry's confidence.— Minnesota Football (@GopherFootball) September 29, 2015
Once again I would like to put it out there that we won. That's important, don't forget it.
The Gophers didn't score but they did take their shots. First play got us excited as Rodney Smith ran for a ain of 9 yards but overthrows by Leidner had people worried. Even more worrisome was Craig James fumble on the punt, luckily he was able to recover it in the end zone for a touchback rather than an Ohio touchdown. Ohio gets on the board with a nice drive, 0-7 . Minnesota has another ok drive but again misses the deep ball, punts. Ohio punts. End of quarter.
Long field, no problem. Minnesota goes 87 yards on 6 plays to tie it up with Shannon Brooks 40 yard touchdown run, the longest play from scrimmage this year.
Ohio responds going 75 yards in 13 plays but Minnesota once again steps up, once again going 87 yards but this time in 9 plays for the touchdown in a 1 yard QB run.
The Minnesota defense had a good stand and make Ohio punt, giving the ball back to Minnesota on their own 10 yard line. Time expires.
Minnesota gets the ball back to start the half and goes 31 yards but settles for a field goal; for the first time in the game Minnesota has the lead, 17-14. Ohio punt, Minnesota punt, Minnesota does a great job stopping Ohio and its 4th and 12 as the quarter runs out. Minnesota leads 17-14 and things are looking good.
Ohio punt....oh crap. Minnesota fumbles on the return and Ohio only has to go 9 yards on the ensuing drive to take back the lead, 17-21. Minnesota goes 88 yards but has to settle for another field goal, Ryan Santoso would be perfect on the day with the help of his Heisman worth holder, Peter Mortell (who can also punt pretty good). 21-20. Down by one and things are looking ok but then Ohio drives down an answers with a field goal of their own to go up by four. 24-20. Minnesota needs a touchdown and they get it. Mitch Leidner with the help of a few of his friends (and lady luck on one play) goes 78 yards to get the go-ahead score when true freshman Shannon Brooks gets his second touchdown of the day.....made up for his kick-off return fumble when it he should have let it go out of bounce.
So, only 30 seconds left, game over right? Nope. Ohio does their best and goes for a long field goal which they miss...but wait, Minnesota had called time out....but wait again! Ohio gets a very confusing and controversial delay of game penalty. Ohio goes for the hail mary but Ace Rogers, back from an injury, breaks it up. Gophers win!
So many thoughts, some positive and some negative.
Damn you injuries. How dare you remove all of our defensive backs! Don't let Drew Wolitarsky get hurt again (he is expected back).
Really impressed by the OL today, they opened up running lanes and gave Mitch time. Mitch also made some key plays under pressure....so that's good.
Special teams not so special. I feel very bad for Craig James. He needs more time, blockers need to slow down the gunners, but that was just bad. Worse, it wasn't just that one game. I think being a punt returner may be the position that takes the most guts. I would just call fair catch and then run away from the ball as fast as I could. Hope this gets fixed fast.
Mitch is doing a good job of spreading the ball around. Nine players caught a pass from him in that game.
Surprised by the lack of defensive turnovers this year. Could really use some of those, especially if they lead to points, to go along with some more sacks.
Great crowd again. Showing up early and for the most part staying until the end.
Let me know what you think. No need to agree with me but if you disagree with me let me know why, you might change my mind.