Head coach P.J. Fleck gave the Minnesota Golden Gopher fan base his first embarrassing setback of the Elite Era with a 31-17 loss on the road to the Purdue Boilermakers on Saturday, effectively torpedoing any delusions of competing in the Big Ten West this season and casting considerable doubt on the Gophers’ chances of extending a streak of five consecutive bowl games. Important note: Leading up to Saturday, Purdue had won just three total conference games in the last four years. I’m sure they appreciated the breakthrough win.
Let the misery flow through you.
What is your Tweet-length (140 characters or less) summary of the Gophers’ 31-17 loss to Purdue?
gopherguy05: Missed opportunities come back to haunt. Everything out of sync. Invest in Clorox.
IowaGopher: The Gophers forced four turnovers on defense and still lost by two touchdowns to a perennial Big Ten cellar dweller.
Ustreet: Minnesota could not capitalize on opportunities presented. Oh and couldn’t stop a team with less than two minutes to play.
dvits14: That was one of the strangest football games I think I have ever seen.
wildcat00: Well, that was unexpected. And disappointing.
GoAUpher: As per the usual, here is a haiku.
Had fun at the game
But found it frustrating too
Goldy Gopher rocks
If you’re P.J. Fleck, do you stick with Conor Rhoda the rest of the way or start thinking about next season and work in a younger quarterback?
gopherguy05: You let Demry Croft get another chance once he has paid his time. But only P.J. apparently knows when that will be. All those people pining for Seth Green would be in for a painful surprise if he actually played.
IowaGopher: It’s a tough situation. Personally, I don’t think Conor Rhoda is cut out to quarterback in the Big Ten. Four red zone turnovers in five games is just unacceptable for a fifth-year senior. But you’ve got issues off the field for Demry Croft. Seth Green, who had been tabbed as this season’s presumed starter by the previous staff, is an enigma. And Fleck is not going to pull Tanner Morgan’s redshirt at this point in the season. At the very least, I’d like to see Croft back in the mix, but I understand the need for him to earn back that playing time. It’s just difficult for me to be optimistic about the rest of this season with Rhoda under center, and I’d like for at least one of next season’s quarterback to have some more game experience.
Ustreet: Fleck and co. don’t seem to think much of Seth Green. Save Morgan’s redshirt and keep with Rhoda.
dvits14: Um, what other quarterback?
wildcat00: It depends. If I’m P.J. Fleck, am I giving up on the season five games in, so I can invest time in developing next year’s quarterback? Or am I going to stick with Rhoda and try to salvage a few wins this season?
GoAUpher: Pretty much ditto gg05 and dvits here. If Croft ever earns his way back and we’re still getting this Rhoda, you give him his shot. If Seth Green shows you something and we’re still getting this Rhoda, you give him a shot. Between the two though I think Croft earning back a spot is more likely because I think Green is probably not going to see the field barring injury.
If this is indeed “Year Zero” for Fleck and wins and losses are less important, how are you measuring the “success” of this season?
gopherguy05: If you can’t go 5-7 and get a gift bowl game, I’ll be disappointed. But it’s getting harder and harder to find a fifth win on the schedule. (If we lose to Illinois, then I really give up...)
Otherwise decide who you can count on for next year, because P.J. is going to have an infinitesimally small leash with the media and fans if that happens.
IowaGopher: I hate losing, and I struggle with the “Year Zero” excuse because I don’t think it is fair to season-ticket holders — or any ticket-buying fan, for that matter — and the seniors on the roster to essentially shrug our shoulders at an entire season because we’re more concerned with being competitive in 2018 or 2019. If their play improves over the course of the season, that’ll maybe be the silver lining for me, but I’ll be extremely disappointed if we continue down this path. I want to win.
Ustreet: Improvement in execution of the new system, which is moderated a bit by the number of injuries on the team.
dvits14: If they are playing better at the end of the year than they were at the beginning. Have the players quit or are they still fighting and playing hard.
wildcat00: Weekly progress in terms of player buy-in and commitment to the team, even when the Gophers are losing.
GoAUpher: Insert a measuring stick here. Mostly I’m looking for ways to enjoy the season regardless, because tying my energy and happiness to an injury and suspension depleted team seems ill-advised.
The Gophers need bodies at wide receiver, offensive line, defensive line, and defensive back. What can you personally bring to the team?
gopherguy05: A guy who can fit into all the clothes that were left over that were previously targeted for Tracy Claeys.
IowaGopher: I don’t have the speed or the hands to play wide receiver. I don’t have anywhere near the size or strength to play offensive or defensive line. Put me at free safety in Cover 2 and I might not be able to make a complete fool of myself.
Ustreet: I also cannot run block, so I feel like I can provide offensive line depth.
dvits14: I’ve had a foot surgery, two leg surgeries, two wrist surgeries, and my appendix out in the past six years. I also have a torn labrum in my shoulder and am supposed to have that fixed. I’d fit right in.
wildcat00: Hahahahahahahaha! I refer you to one Mr. Cam Newton regarding my knowledge of football routes and such.
GoAUpher: I take elite photographs with Goldy Gopher.
Will the Gophers be bowling again at season’s end?
gopherguy05: If we are, it’s a 5-7 APR gift bowl.
IowaGopher: It’s possible, but unlikely. There are winnable games on the schedule, but both Maryland and Purdue were winnable and we saw how those two games went. I think they’ll be sitting at home come December, which won’t do Fleck any favors with the media or our increasingly apathetic fan base.
Ustreet: Doubtful. They’ll beat Illinois, but the most winnable games on the schedule left are Nebraska and Northwestern, which do not seem very winnable.
dvits14: I still think they will be playing better at the end of the year than they are now and will steal a couple games we didn’t see coming. But that also depends if they get healthy or not. If more players go down, then no, they don’t go bowling.
wildcat00: Are there three more games on the schedule the Gophers are likely to win, assuming the same level of effort and execution we saw against Maryland and Purdue? I think probably not.
GoAUpher: No. We had the misfortune of having two of the more winnable Big Ten games come: A) at a time when this team is extra affected by depth, and B) against two teams that are built to properly exploit the defensive depth issues. As of now I don’t see where the wins come from. Am happy to be proven wrong though.