Well that was a nice palate cleanser of a game! This one felt good. It wasn’t always pretty (see my halftime recap for some examples) but in the end the Gophers put this one out of reach and gave fans a number of big plays to hoot and holler about.
Here are a couple of thoughts as this game wraps up:
- HATS OFF to Rodney Smith! It was a career day for the sophomore running back, as he finished with 144 yards and two touchdowns with an 8 ypc average. His 70 yard touchdown was wonderful to see, as he broke into the open, put a nice move on the only defensive back with a chance, and held off the pursuit on this way to the end zone. Easily one of the biggest highlights of the day.
- HATS OFF to Jonathan Celestin! Celestin was everywhere today. I’m not clear on how many tackles he had but he was always around the ball. In addition to being a tackling machine, he should have had an interception and defended several passes. It was the kind of performance the Minnesota defense needed.
- Connor Rhoda isn’t your starter. I don’t mean that as a dig at Connor. He did what he needed to do by avoiding turnovers (though he needed Maryland’s help on that) and negative plays. But despite a large chorus of fools on the Twitters who spent the whole game claiming otherwise (a phenomenon I’ll address later), he wasn’t better than Mitch. His passes were usually behind the receiver, he didn’t have any touch other than fastball, and all of this was in an offensive scheme that ran the ball 47 times to 15 passes and that didn’t ask Connor to do anything.
- The defense is improving. Don’t misread me, there are plenty of things to correct still. But to me the defense appears to be getting better every week (amazing what getting some key starters back will do) and they’re going to have a few more weeks to work towards their best form because...
- Minnesota should be 7-2 when they head to Nebraska on November 12th. I’m not saying look ahead, I’m saying the next 3 games are against awful teams. Rutgers went 10 quarters in Big Ten play without scoring (and two of those were against Illinois). Purdue got smoked by this Maryland team, got destroyed by Iowa, and seems like they might be giving up. Illinois is probably the toughest of the bunch. Yea, let that sink in. That’s why I feel like this.
Enjoy the win Gophers fans! Oh, and go Buckeyes.