Minnesota beat Rutgers 34-32. Normally, the difference between those two numbers would be vast. Today was not a normal game against Rutgers. Instead of a comfortable win, Minnesota decided to up the degree of difficulty by making every possible mistake.
In all facets of the game, the Gophers turned in their worst performances of the seasons. The offense was stagnant for much of the game. Mitch Leidner made multiple poor decisions and throws. While the interception had as much to do with his receivers running into each other as a poor throw, the senior quarterback overthrew and underthrew multiple receivers throughout the game.
The offensive line failed to generate push against a depleted Rutgers defense. On a key fourth down late in the game, multiple lineman were outleveraged and taken out of the play.
The lone bright spot on offense was Rodney Smith, who made multiple excellent individual plays all game. Smith had the first kick off return for a touchdown of the season. On the final drive, Smith through pure individual will picked up the key third down conversion to set up Carpenter’s winning field goal.
The defense was miserable. While it is true that they were down multiple starters in the secondary, and then later Jack Lynn on a questionable targeting call, the defense was still playing Rutgers. The defensive line had difficulty getting any pressure when only rushing four. They missed tackles and gave Rutgers the ability to get extra yardage after the initial hit. The secondary was obviously gassed early in the second half, which led to more yards through the air than anyone expected.
On special teams, Minnesota had a kickoff go out of bounds, a duffed punt, and a missed field goal.
There are a lot of questions going forward into next week, and naysayers of this team have a lot of legitimate ammunition after this game.