Feeling good? You should be. P.J. Fleck’s Minnesota Golden Gophers are 2-0 on the season after a 48-14 non-conference road victory over the Oregon State Beavers. Aside from an unfortunate second quarter, it was an impressive outing for a team that didn’t exactly inspire confidence in Week 1.
Before we close the book on Oregon State, let’s go around the horn and get everyone’s wrap-up thoughts on the game.
What is your Tweet-length (140 characters or less) summary of the Gophers’ 48-14 victory over Oregon State?
GopherNation: That was EXACTLY what we wanted to see. Excellent run game, complementary passing, and a great defensive effort!
gopherguy05: That was 45 minutes of how Minnesota will win football games this year. More of that, please. That 2nd quarter we could forget though.
mowe0018: Keep the good vibes rolling. Great win. Continue the momentum forward. Row the boat.
IowaGopher: P.J. Fleck has a bright future. Gary Andersen does not.
Ustreet: Gophers win the turnover battle and use short fields to rout OSU.
dvits14: Has the panic level from everyone dropped?
To borrow a Fleck-ism, who is your pick for “Nekton of the Week” from the game?
GopherNation: Hard to pick just one. As I watched the highlights, I was impressed by how many contributed, especially on defense. If I’m forced to pick, I’ll go with Shannon Brooks on offense (5.4 YPC average and 3 TDs) and Jonathan Celestin on defense.
gopherguy05: I'll choose someone else to break up all the Celestin picks — who totally deserved it. I'll pick Robb Smith, who called a hell of a defensive game. Elite defense.
mowe0018: Hard to pick against Celestin. He made dynamic plays, got his teammates into a frenzy on multiple occasions, and was just a plain old mean man out there. Exactly what you want from a linebacker.
IowaGopher: I love me some Jonathan Celestin, but Shannon Brooks rushed for 91 yards on 17 carries and scored three touchdowns. I’ll go with Brooks.
dvits14: Jonathan Celestin. Dude was an absolute monster.
Conor Rhoda appeared to step forward and take control at quarterback. How would you grade his performance?
GopherNation: What more could we ask for from Rhoda? Because of the dominance on the ground and the wet conditions, he didn’t have to pass much. When he did, he was 7-for-8 and on the money. Tyler Johnson’s 67-yard touchdown was perfectly placed so that he didn’t have to slow down, took the pass in stride, and then he did the rest. But Rhoda took more command of the offense and it looks like he’ll be the guy as we move forward.
gopherguy05: He played the game manager role to perfection which is what we need for him. If he can look that good passing in a game where he has to do it 28 times and not 8 we could have something here.
mowe0018: I would grade it as a successful performance. His connection with Johnson is undeniable, as his two best thrown balls were to TJ for big yardage. He didn’t throw often but made the most of a few short fields and didn’t turn the ball over. Unlike some other people...
IowaGopher: It was a big step in the right direction. One play in the fourth quarter reminded us why Demry Croft is such a threat in the run-pass option, but I liked the leadership we saw from Rhoda. He truly commanded the offense, and I personally felt more confident when he was under center. I’ll give Rhoda a B+. Nothing flashy, but solid is all I was looking for. Still some work to be done in the coming weeks.
Ustreet: He went 7-for-8 and his numbers were helped mightily by YAC. He also had a fumble that luckily went out of bounds, and still does not pull the ball when the read is open. I’d grade this performance out to a B.
dvits14: B-. He did what he was asked to do but he still refuses to keep the ball on the RPO. Better defenses will make the Gophers pay if he doesn’t start being an option in the run-pass option.
The Gopher are fortunate to have not one but two elite running backs. If you had to build your team around one of them, who is your pick — Rodney Smith or Shannon Brooks?
GopherNation: I’d pick Shannon Brooks, but how can you really go wrong with either one? They both are shifty, able to make people miss in the backfield. Both have good speed but I think Brooks runs with a bit more power.
gopherguy05: Shannon Smith. I can’t choose. Its like picking my favorite twin son.
mowe0018: I’ll go with Smith but only because he has appeared to be slightly more durable in his time at Minnesota (thus far, at least). Both are fantastic backs and they should benefit from each other later in the season by being fresh from sharing the heavy workload.
IowaGopher: I’m a slight lean towards Rodney Smith. Brooks had a strong freshman season, but hasn’t been quite as explosive since. Smith turned a lot of heads last season — including my own — and seems like the more complete back. But you can’t go wrong with either one.
Ustreet: Brooks, who requires a bit less from his offensive line.
dvits14: I would go with Smith. As fun as it is watching Brooks run, his running style concerns me long-term. We saw an example of this in the Oregon State game when it first appeared he may have injured his shoulder.
There was a lot to like about the Gophers’ defensive performance against the Beavers. What (or who) was most impressive for you?
GopherNation: Overall the defense got contributions from so many and it was awesome. If I had to pick one, I was impressed with defensive tackle Gary Moore, who was able to make a few disruptive plays in the backfield. Having the other tackle make some plays will only force teams to pay a little bit less attention to Steven Richardson. And that will be better for all of us.
gopherguy05: I'll go back to my “Nekton of the Week” pick. Defensive coordinator Robb Smith called a great game, made elite in-game adjustments, and set up his players to do what they needed to do to make plays.
mowe0018: The general stinginess is encouraging. Seeing multiple players contribute in a variety of ways makes me think that this youthful crew can continue to grow and get better as the season goes on. Hopefully, major injury can be avoided.
IowaGopher: I detest Bret Bielema, but I’m going to borrow his use of “borderline erotic” — it’s how he described a defensive performance against Texas in a bowl game a few years back — because I feel it appropriately describes that three-and-out in the third quarter where the Gopher defense held the Beavers to -7 yards to force a punt. It involved a bone-crunching hit on running back Artavis Pierce in the backfield from Celestin and a sack for Kamal Martin. The athleticism on defense is off the charts, and when they’re out there flying around and making plays, it’s a lot of fun to watch.
Ustreet: Minnesota gave up 35 yards of offense in the second half.
dvits14: Antoine Winfield Jr. is going to be my perma-pick for defensive player of the week for the next three (two?) years. But Celestin is actually going to take the honors this week. He was everywhere and delivered one of the more punishing hits you’ll see. He played so well, his mom was a constant figure on the Fox broadcast.
Congrats on surviving your first #Pac12AfterDark with the Gophers. Was it everything you dreamed it would be?
GopherNation: I’m tired.
gopherguy05: It was fine but yeah the Wazzu game took all the #Pac12AfterDark crazy from our game.
mowe0018: I stayed up to watch the Washington State-Boise State game, just because the mad pirate is always worth the price of admission. My Sunday has been a bit more sluggish because of that decision.
IowaGopher: I’ve made worse decisions than staying up past midnight to watch the Gophers stomp the Beavers. I’ll sleep when I’m dead.
Ustreet: Are Wazzu and Boise still playing?
dvits14: I’ll tell you when I wake up from my nap.