The Minnesota Golden Gophers closed out their non-conference schedule with a 34-3 win against the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders, assuring them an undefeated record ahead of Big Ten conference play. But before we head into the bye week and kick back and relax on a stress-free Saturday, the Daily Gopher staff offer their final words on the Gophers’ dominance over the Blue Raiders.
What is your Tweet-length (140 characters or less) summary of the Gophers’ 34-3 victory over Middle Tennessee State?
GopherNation: Wore them down and dominated late.
gopherguy05: Missing their two best players, they stunk, and we did what we should do.
mowe0018: Momentum is at full throttle. Heal during bye. Wreck havoc on Big Ten.
IowaGopher: The Gopher defense outscored the Blue Raider offense.
Ustreet: Minnesota is easily better than a Conference USA team.
dvits14: This defense is so much fun to watch.
To borrow a Fleck-ism, who is your pick for “Nekton of the Week” from the game?
GopherNation: Can I give it to defensive coordinator Robb Smith? Cause he deserves it. But I’ll go with Thomas Barber for leading the defense in tackles and making an impressive interception in the third quarter.
gopherguy05: I've said it on two podcasts now, so I can’t go back. It's Jacob Huff for that huge pick six and just playing great safety all game long.
mowe0018: I’ll go Rodney Smith for his success early on the in the game and averaging 6.7 yards a carry. His early success led to the later pay dirt of Kobe McCrary, and Rodney’s yardage was once again hard-earned via yards after contact and breaking many tackles.
IowaGopher: I’ll echo GopherNation’s sentiment regarding Robb Smith, but give the honors to Kobe McCrary. Nothing embodies the nekton mentality more than a senior stepping in and filling the void for two of the best players on the team.
Ustreet: Carter Coughlin on defense. Kobe McCrary on offense.
dvits14: I’m going to go with Kobe McCrary. He hasn’t seen much playing time but he stepped to the plate and rushed for over 100 yards when he his number was finally called upon.
The Gophers have emerged from their non-conference slate undefeated. How would you grade their performance?
GopherNation: B+ as I’ve been pleasantly surprised. The offensive line has struggled but improved incrementally. The secondary has been better than I thought. And they’ve done what they’ve needed to do through three games. The depth issues could become a significant problem but they’ve done what they’ve needed to do.
gopherguy05: I'll say a B. 3-0 is the main goal and that was achieved. There was a bit more turmoil than I may have liked but that will happen with a new staff too. Could have avoided the injuries that popped up this week, but all in all they did what was needed.
mowe0018: A. Just win. Momentum near full capacity. As far as I know, no serious injury that will alter season. No reason to dock for not blowing out a bad team during the first game of a new coaching tenure. However, I won’t grade so leniently come conference season.
IowaGopher: I’m inclined to go with a B+. I have concerns about the offense, but the defense has been more dominant than expected. I can’t remember the last time the Gophers finished a non-conference schedule without the fans having to sweat out at least one game in the fourth quarter. It’s been a pleasant surprise.
Ustreet: Defense is an A-. Offense is is a B-.
dvits14: I’ll give them a B. They’ve done a lot well, but there is still more there to give and improve upon.
This was Conor Rhoda’s first game as the newly minted starting quarterback. Does he have your confidence moving forward?
GopherNation: He’s got my confidence to lead and manage the team in games where we are better. I’m not convinced he can lead a game-winning drive or beat anyone with his arm. I also haven’t not seen it either, just not sure where my confidence level is at.
gopherguy05: Confidence? I guess so. He is the man and there really isn’t a second option left, so I have confidence in his game manager skills and hope offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca can find a way to use him to the best of his abilities.
mowe0018: I’m still waiting for a deep completion down the sidelines hitting a receiver in stride. Otherwise, he’s been quite serviceable and is currently undefeated. Take that for what it’s worth.
IowaGopher: I’m very skeptical. I was hoping for another step forward against Middle Tennessee State but felt instead like Rhoda was treading water — or perhaps hitting his ceiling, although I hope that is not the case at this point in the season. I’m disappointed that Demry Croft is a non-factor, because I think the competition benefited both of them. We’ll see how Rhoda looks coming out of the bye week.
Ustreet: My confidence doesn’t matter. He’s the only quarterback on the team. (Editor’s Note: Ustreet will not be asked back.)
dvits14: Compared to the alternatives he does.
I’m running out of adjectives to describe this defense. Give me your best one. And if all you can come up with is “elite,” change your best.
GopherNation: I’d say solid and improving. I’m enamored with how well they play off each other and together, not necessarily believing that this is an elite unit. What really gets me dreaming is the fact that so much of the defensive core is young. It’s a solid unit that is going to be elite in the near future.
gopherguy05: Solid. It’s been great so far, but I'll save my thesaurus for if they can keep this up against an actual quality offense.
mowe0018: Fun? A lot of different members are flying around, hitting guys hard, making open field tackles, holding their fist up on fourth down. It just seems like they enjoy suffocating their opponent. I’ve enjoyed watching them go to work.
dvits14: Picture Monty Burns saying “Excellent” in a devlishly fun tone knowing his plans are coming to fruition.
Everyone but gopherguy05 is flawless thus far in their preseason predictions. How does it feel? Any words of encouragement for our imperfect co-manager?
GopherNation: Change your best, gopherguy05. I’m on a 15-game streak and I picked us to beat Maryland.
gopherguy05: I think I get a pass for MTSU not having their two best players playing, because it would have looked a lot different Saturday had they been healthy. (Editor’s Note: He does not get a pass.) But I don't expect any sympathy from this group or the readers... So roast away.
mowe0018: It feels good. I’m also confident my other predictions will come to fruition. Be prepared for a 10-2 season everybody. It’s going to be fun.
IowaGopher: It feels great. I’ve been hearing all offseason about how GopherNation was perfect in his game predictions last season, so I’m looking forward to knocking him off his perch this year. And hang in there, gopherguy05. You at least had the good sense to change your prediction earlier this week on the podcast, but your lack of faith in the preseason is still disturbing. Get your boat rowing in the right direction.
Ustreet: I don’t think it really counts when one predicts them to go undefeated every year. (Editor’s Note: As I mentioned earlier, Ustreet will not be asked back.)
dvits14: Feels good. It’s been fun to watch the Gophers blow games open again. Change your best, gopherguy05.
Minnesota gets a breather next weekend before the conference opener against Maryland. What will you be doing instead of watching Gopher football?
GopherNation: Scouting Maryland, obviously. I’m elite like that.
gopherguy05: Probably a honey-do list, because if it’s not this Saturday, it won’t be until December. Also trying to sneak away to watch Purdue bring the Harbor to Ann Arbor.
mowe0018: Doing homework and attempting to coax my fantasy baseball team across the finish line despite its poor condition and quickly evaporating rotisserie lead.
IowaGopher: Probably watching Vanderbilt upset Alabama before the Nittany Lions massacre the Hawkeyes in Iowa City.
Ustreet: Changing my best. (Editor’s Note: Participation in these postgame exit surveys is not mandatory, despite what Ustreet’s responses might suggest.)
dvits14: Heading north to a friend’s cabin to imbibe a plethora of alcoholic beverages. I mean, mom, if you are reading this, I am heading north to a friend’s cabin for a fun, relaxing weekend of Scrabble and Parcheesi.