Pffffffffffffffffffttt. That was the sound you heard at about 10:00 pm Saturday night as the Gophers dreams of winning the B1G West popped like a balloon stuck from a needle. Once again Gopher players, coaches, fans and media are left wondering what might have been. This season will forever be remembered as the Season of Missed Opportunities.
The Gophers are now 0-3 in toss-up games this season. They gave the Penn State game away. They played their worst offensive game of the season against Iowa and still held a 4th quarter lead. They held a halftime lead against Nebraska, then came out in the second half looking like a completely different team, yet they still put themselves into position to tie the game late. But of course Gopher football is Gopher football and they couldn’t close the deal. Sadly, we Gopher fans, have seen this story played out many times before.
As GopherNation pointed out last week, the hardest step for a program to take is the final step of going from a mediocre team to a championship team. The Gophers have proven over the past 20 years, they are a middle of the road B1G team. They are not a one or two win team like most people think they are. I don’t know if it is coaching, players, bad juju or what, but for some reason this program just hasn’t been able to take that final step. They just cannot close the deal when it is there for the taking. I’m really struggling today trying to reconcile the fact they might never take that step...
Here are my thoughts from the game:
Tracy Claeys - Read into this what you will. Maybe it doesn’t mean anything. Maybe it means everything. With Tracy Claeys as head coach the team has played Iowa (twice), Michigan, Ohio State, Nebraska and Penn State all close, yet have not won a single one of them.
Tracy Claeys Part 2 - I don’t know how you fire a first year coach after a 7-8 win season, but something tells me it has turned into beat Wisconsin or else for Claeys and this staff.
Mitch Leidner - This game was everything people love and hate about you. You were gutsy as hell. You put the team on your back and made plays all over the field. But when it mattered most, you threw into double-coverage when you had a man underneath who could have walked into the end zone for the tying score.
Defense - Keep the ball in front of you and tackle the ball carrier has been the backbone of this defense during the Kill/Claeys tenure. The latter completely failed them in this game and it is the single biggest reason they lost. So, so many missed tackles.
Jalen Myrick - You dropped a pick-6. Two plays later Nebraska scored a 31 yard touchdown on 4th and 2. This team can get away with mistakes like that against Purdue but not a team like Nebraska, Wisconsin, Penn State and Iowa.
Closing Thought - Just wondering everyone’s thought about this. Just for argument sake, lets say the Gophers score the late TD. Would you be aggressive and go for two? Or do you kick the extra point and play for overtime? Typically I’d say play to win and go for it, but in this case I’d say play for OT knowing Fyfe was going to have to play. Thoughts?
Ok, onto what really matters, the Stroll Through Twitterland:
The main hashtags for this week were:
Anyone else think about the Monty Python Knight while watching Tommy Armstrong play? Pretty sure, @jdmill did. It’s just a flesh wound.
"Good heavens, they have literally torn Tommy Armstrong's arm from his body. This is horrific."— jdmill (@jdmill) November 13, 2016
"Here comes Tommy Armstrong."
A lot of people felt the same way @hassi_9 felt on the final drive and then they didn’t.
Let's go #Gophers! This is how you prove that you're a championship quality team! Let's go get this win! #MINNvsNEB— Muhammad Islam (@hassi_9) November 13, 2016
Anyone know if the Chair made an appearance? I know the crowd was chanting for it late and it was pretty awesome to hear. Time for the schools to officially honor it. Both fanbases want it.
#AaronsFootballFacts: The $5 Bits of Broken Chair Trophy was created in 2014 and goes to #MINNvsNEB winner. @GopherFootball @HuskerFBNation pic.twitter.com/6B2qKswHoQ— Aaron Tallent (@AaronTallent) November 12, 2016
This is a fair argument IMO @ZachJohnsonGI
Leidner is not a failure. But there is no way he should have been a 3+ year starter and the best QB on the roster for that long. #Gophers— Zach Johnson (@ZachJohnsonGI) November 13, 2016
I’ve heard this same sentiment from pretty much everyone who has been to Nebraska to see a game. Can’t wait to make a trip down myself.
NE residents & fans continue 2 impress raising bar, welcoming MN. Many could learn from them— Tundra (@tundragopher) November 12, 2016
"Good luck today" heard quite often #skiumah
Seriously, did the Chair make an appearance?!? I need to know! Tracy Claeys is now ofer in Trophy Games. Not saying, just saying.
Who will get the chair?! ...wait, let me rephrase... it's CHAIR WEEK! #BattleForBrokenChair #SkiUMah #Huskers #GBR #MINvsNEB pic.twitter.com/jif3F50m0F— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) November 9, 2016
Thoughts on the conservative play calling after this happened? I kind of felt Claeys was a little gun shy after last weeks fiasco. Though I will say the Nebby punter looked like he was about to cry after this. Felt kind of bad for him for a second, then I didn’t because it was a hilarious punt.
Yikes. Nebraska just had a minus 2 yard punt.— chipscoggins (@chipscoggins) November 13, 2016
I don’t want to think about this anymore.
Missed tackles, missed tackles, missed tackles. Secondary giving up too many added yards off missed tackles in space tonight.— Kyle Goblirsch (@GobieMN) November 13, 2016
Broken Chair. Broken Chair. Broken Chair. Broken Chair. Broken Chair. Broken Chair.
WE MUST RETAIN THE BITS OF BROKEN CHAIR TROPHY TOMORROW pic.twitter.com/nJfRbbIw5n— Barstool Nebraska (@BarstoolUNL) November 11, 2016
Last but certainly not least, something to make you smile and remember it’s just a game.
RT@ThingslnLife— Roberto Blizzard (@VeganYogaDude) November 11, 2016
If this doesn't make your day I don't know what will pic.twitter.com/VLLtcmUMAT#animals #dogs #dogsoftwitter #baby #love
There you have it, this weeks Stroll. What are your thoughts on the game? How is everyone feeling today? What to the Gophers have to do to learn how to win these games? Are the Vikings still going to the Super Bowl, asking for a friend?