You might not know it but the Golden Gophers are 2-0 after beating an opponent from the Pac 12 and then taking care of business against an FCS opponent. So now we head into a bye that strangely is coming at just the right time after only 2 weeks played. But the narrative of Gopher Football is really two-fold. One is the product we are seeing on the field and the other is off the field.
The Gophers are 2-0 and on the field have looked to be solid. It hasn't been perfect but considering the new additions along the offensive line and a new offensive coordinator, things seem to be coming along nicely. If you are complaining about this season then either you came in with unreasonable expectations or you are just looking for something to complain about. It hasn't been perfect, but looking back they have done what they needed to do and nothing has jumped out to me as a glaring problem. The season is young and kinks are being worked out.
I do recall a year ago, the Gophers lost their season opener to TCU but managed to play rather well in the loss. That was followed by a few rather ugly wins over Colorado State in OT, narrowly escaping with a 10-7 win over Kent State and then needing a late touchdown to put away Ohio. A year ago the defense was legit and that was obvious but there were concerns with the offense because it kinda sucked. This year the defense is not as good, the offense is much better but there's really nothing alarming through two games.
This year they began with a win over a weak Power-5 program in Oregon State. Mistakes were made, it wasn't pretty but it was a win where the offense managed to score 30 points. Week two was against an FCS opponent and the Gophers, for the first time in a long time, took care of them like a Big Ten team should do to an FCS opponent. 58 points on the scoreboard and most of the 4th quarter was your second units on the field.
The defense has been fine. Not outstanding, but they've been fine. With the starters allowing Indiana State very little outside of a double-tipped pass that turned into a 58-yard play. They really held a P5 offense in check as well with a number of tackles in the backfield and only allowing points on short fields. There are quite a few freshmen being thrust into action because of injuries, suspensions or because they've just plain earned it.
But we head into a bye week and even though it comes after just two weeks, it is probably good timing for this team. Which leads me to a number of issues that are occurring off the field.
First we get to talk about the truly "off-the-field" situation. With four players suspended pending an investigation into their alleged actions in a criminal sexual conduct case. This is not a good situation for these kids, their future or the program (and obviously horrific for the victim, football isn't everything, I'm not glossing over that but that is an entire post on it's own). This is likely going to be a lengthy process to get to the truth in this matter, so the bye week is probably well-timed here as well from a football perspective. As I stated in the comments on our original story I do hope that this is acted upon swiftly and fairly.
On the injury front there continue to be starters who are going down. First it was Shannon Brooks with a broken foot in the preseason, he should be back for the Penn State game if not sooner. Then it was Rashad Still who broke his clavicle against Oregon State and he hopes to be back in about 4-5 weeks. Then Brandon Lingen goes down in the Indiana State game with another broken clavicle and his recovery would seemingly be a week behind Still's. Getting a bye week certainly helps, even if it is early in the season, to give those guys an extra week to recover without losing a game. And it gives some of the other more nagging injuries to clear up.
Here's where I'd like to point out again that we are 2-0. Purdue, Illinois, Penn State and Rutgers have lost to P5 teams (admittedly better teams than Oregon St). And Northwestern has lost to a MAC team and an FCS team. So for anyone acting like the sky is falling because we didn't beat OSU by 28 and because we allowed Indiana St to score 28 points, let's just remember that we are 2-0 and averaging 44 ppg game.
Nothing I've seen leads me to believe that we cannot compete in the West. The season is playing out as expected through 2 games and one would expect that Colorado State is not going to take this team to overtime like it did a year ago.