If you were to grade and assess the 2018 season a week ago, I suspect that your overall assessment would be very different than it would be today. Which is exactly why you play the entire season.
Before I start typing out this week’s Monday Perspective, I wanted to go back and read what I wrote about expectations before the season began. Here is what I typed...
But this team is not nearly a finished product. We are taking baby steps towards being a really good program. This year will be better, but not by a lot.
I fully expect a 6-6 season, but it is entirely possible to finish 5-7 again this year and still be a better team.
Expectations? This team will be better. But the goal here is to build something that sustains success. 2018 is not the year we see that goal coming to fruition. This team will make mistakes and there will be times of frustration. But it will be better and the hope is that it continues to do so.
Enjoy the season, Gopher fans!
Not too terribly far off. The results on the field were not all that much better, but in watching this team from start to finish I have no doubt that this is a much better team than the 2017 version.
Was this team better?
Was this team dramatically different than the 2017 version?
No. Some positions were, some were not.
Did this team get better throughout the season?
Absolutely. And not just because they beat Wisconsin in game 12, but this team improved throughout. Especially on defense after the change at coordinator.
The point all along was getting better and building the foundation for this team/program for sustained success. Nothing has guaranteed this sustained success, even in the wake of the tremendously fun win over Wisconsin. But there is reason for hope. You don’t have to break out in year two to prove that things are going to be better, you’ll have to break out eventually, but it doesn’t have to be in year two.
Year two saw the offense play a lot of very young guys. The experience gained cannot be understated. The defense really struggled in the first 2⁄3 of the season but what a dramatic turnaround when Joe Rossi took over, that success needs to be maintained and built up on as the defense will be experienced and talented in 2019.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The 2018 team did exactly what it had to do. It gained experience, it won a signature game and it earned a bowl game. Which game? Totally irrelevant this year, getting to one is the goal. I’ve always felt that the “extra practices” isn’t nearly as beneficial as we will be led to believe, but getting to a bowl is significant. The seniors get to be a part of the team for an extra month, the entire team gets to travel and be catered to for a week. It is a fun experience for the team and a reward for the work they have put in all year.
Year two is nearly finalized and in the books. It is a success and one we will all remember for dominating in Madison to get the Axe back in Minnesota for the first time in a long time.
Now the hope is that this program is being built to keep it here.