Gopher football scored a touchdown on their opening drive and this game was never any closer than that 7-point margin. Minnesota, behind a strong 2nd quarter, opened up a comfortable lead and cruised to a 26-3 win over Miami University Redhawks.
And this game was one where the Gophers won all three phases of the game, particularly dominating defensively and making big plays on special teams.
“Defensively? Stifling defense. Stingy.
“Jacob Herbers was the player of the game. Without a doubt.
The Gopher defense forced three turnovers and held Miami to under 200 yards for the game. Jacob Herbers had his best game as a Gopher pinning Miami inside their own 5 twice while still averaging 42.7 yards per punt. And the offense was efficient on the ground and in the air with Bryce Williams rushing for 141 yards and Tyler Johnson with 133 yards receiving and 3 touchdowns. Coach Fleck was less enthused with this offense than the final numbers would suggest.
We will fail, we will fail a lot. And failing is necessary to have success. This was one of those times offensively. It is coming. You can see it coming, you just don’t know when it’s gonna hit.
A number of great stories from today’s game. Tyler Johnson very well may be in line for Big Ten offensive player of the week with his 133 yards and 3 touchdowns. But the player of the game for me was Bryce Williams. The true freshman, getting his first start after Rodney Smith was lost for the season, had a great game. We mentioned his 141 yards but he was very decisive in his cuts, broke tackles, averaged 4.3 yards per carry and converted a couple key third downs for the offense. It is a shame that he was unable to get a touchdown.
“I thought Bryce played better than he did last week. I thought he ran hard, he was tough. He’s been here 3 1⁄2 months, when you’re 18, it’s hard to break those tackles righ tnow. He made some huge plays. He also fumbled the football. He failed and he had some success, so he grew today.
The ones (upperclassmen) we have , they have to be our best players, they have to be our best leaders.
With a 26-3 lead late in the 3rd quarter, freshman Tanner Morgan was put in an quarterback. Annexstad was sacked early in the game and played most of the game with a noticeable limp. He still managed to complete 60% of his passes on 12/20 for 142 yards and two touchdowns. Annexstad generally made good decisions again this week, was accurate on the mid-range throws but continues to struggle connecting on deep balls. He clearly has the arm strength, but I think for Annexstad it will take time to get that timing down before he starts to connect on deep throws to his talented receivers.
Defensively this was a great game and Kamal Martin may have had his best game as a Gopher. The junior had a nice pass breakup, his slant coverage led to a Carter Coughlin sack and he tied for the team lead with 8 tackles. But all of the usual names percolated up. Coughlin with 2 sacks, Barber with 8 tackles, Antonio Shenault with 7 tackles plus an interception, Antoine Winfield with a fumble recover and unit held Miami to under 200 yards of total offense.
“One thing we can do is run. A lot of our schemes are designed to run, to put us in a position where we can use that to our advantage.”
The 4th quarter was ugly, it was good for Tanner Morgan to get some experience, but it was ugly. And the locker room was not particularly excited about the win. Fleck reminded them that they are 3-0 and winning isn’t easy.
“Winning is hard. There are a lot of teams in our league today that didn’t win. Let’s be excited for 24 hours. Then tomorrow we’ll put our big boy pants on, and we get to be coached.”
A complete win for the Gophers who move to 3-0 and the Big Ten schedule looms next week with a road trip to Maryland (2-1).