As PJ Fleck led the players out of the tunnel, I thought “here we go, it’s time!” Then the players stopped and the sound of a heartbeat with an undertone of ominous music played through the speakers. Coach Fleck and the players stared straight ahead while the heartbeat continued to thump, thump. Somehow, some way, my heart started to beat to the same rhythm.
As the anticipation grew, my skin broke out in goosebumps and I felt a chill run down my spine. Memories of the Air Force game and the opening of TCF Bank Stadium raced through my head. The dawn of a new era of Gopher Football had arrived. The students chanting “row the boat, row the boat.” My wife had her hands clasped under her chin as if in prayer. My buddies kept looking over to me and back to the team. Words weren’t necessary, we were all thinking the same thing. Then Coach Fleck turned and addressed the team. The team started to sway back-and-forth, one organism, one energy and boom, fireworks explode. One of the loudest roars I’ve ever heard at The Bank raced through the stadium as the team ran to the sidelines. The PJ Fleck era had officially begun!
PJ Fleck already got Minnesota LIT AS HELL pic.twitter.com/v6CdZ8zi52— Jack McGuire (@JackMacCFB) August 31, 2017
I don’t know if this is how the team will come out of the tunnel for every single game or not. Whether PJ Fleck reaches the levels we believe he will or whether he crashes and burns. The memory from that moment will live with me forever. It was a truly special moment.
Deep breaths everyone. I know we all wanted to run roughshod over the Buffalo Bulls, but this shouldn’t have been surprising. A lot of us even predicted this type of result. First games are always tricky. Look at Ohio State. For a moment it looked as if they would be upset by Indiana. First games under a new coach with all new systems are even trickier. Our fan base should know this better than anyone with what we’ve been through the past 10 years. Was it pretty? Nope. Were there some positive signs? Yep. Are there a lot of things they need to clean up and work on? Yep. But end of the day, they got what matters most and that is the victory.
There is a lot to digest from this game. Here are my quick-hitting thoughts.
- I now understand what Fleck meant when he said one day one QB looks to be the guy, the next day the other QB does. Though I do honestly feel Demry Croft played better of the two.
- For better or worse, I would still pick one or the other. It just made for a disjointed mess. My preference would be Croft. More long-term upside and he adds a running element that Connor Rhoda either wasn’t willing to do or simply can’t do.
- Learning curve, I know, but Rhoda you can’t make that mistake right there in that situation before the half.
- Learning curve, I know, but Croft if you lead Eric Carter on your first completed pass he scores a touchdown.
- You just had your coming out party Tyler Johnson. Everyone will now know who you are. How will you respond and adapt to what the defenses are about to throw at you?
- Anyone else think Johnson mistimed his jump on the touchdown catch only to see him hang in the air for what felt like 45 minutes. That was impressive. Oh and the yards after the catch. #Swoons More of that please. I forgot what it was like to see YAC.
- You have to pick it up offensive line.
- This was a weird game defensively. It felt like Buffalo was marching up and down the field for most of the game. Completing passes all over the place. Only to look up at the end and see they only had 7 points and 262 total yards of offense. It was definitely a bend but don’t break defensive game, but I’ll take that any day of the week if they only allow 7 points.
- However they were definitely picking on a couple of d-backs...
- I heart you Antoine Winfield Jr.
- College kickers, amirite?
- Emmit Carpenter, this is your one free pass for the season. Nice response though at the end of the game.
- Hat tip to the student section. Keep bringing it!
Alright, time for what really matters, the Stroll through Twitterland.
The main hashtags for this game were:
@ESPNCFB with a sad but true stat. Congratulations PJ Fleck. Here’s to a lot more to come.
Row. The. Boat.— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) September 1, 2017
P.J. Fleck becomes the 1st Minnesota coach since 1986 to win his debut. pic.twitter.com/PT5jVbT18U
I agree @Dave_Schwartz This was pretty darn cool. Well done band. Well done.
@Scott_Streiff This is what it is all about! Right here. Look at those smiles.
Now that is dedication @RealBrooksAllen
Not related to the Gophers-Buffalo game but still a pretty cool Gopher football moment @Fox9Sports
I’m glad your birthday wish came true @GoPhotoGenius Happy birthday!
Glad you could join us @MonicaRecruiter come again.
Now that is #ELITE @baileytherapy13
Couldn’t have said it any better @MNheadhunter
Last but certainly not least. No matter what happens in the ensuing years under Coach Fleck, one thing we know for certain is it’s not going to be boring. Thanks for sharing this and making me laugh @L_Vlasaty
So there you have it. What were some of your favorite Tweets from/about the game? Overall thoughts about the game itself?