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Minnesota Football beats South Dakota State - Final Score 28-21

That was less than satisfying.

NCAA Football: South Dakota State at Minnesota Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Well that was ugly. There was never any question that South Dakota State is a good FCS team, but they are an FCS team all the same. The Minnesota Gophers stepped up at the end when it mattered, but frankly that just raises of questions like “what took you so long to wake up?” At the end of the day though, a win is a win, even if it’s only 28-21.

Quick Thoughts

  • Kamal Martin being out hurt the defense. There are more than a few things to dislike about the defensive performance tonight, but the LB play was a large one. And the drop off between the level of play we’d expect from Martin and that of Mariano Sori-Marin, Braelen Oliver, and Thomas Rush tonight was noticeable.
  • So much for the size advantage up front. Minnesota’s offensive line play was...underwhelming. Curtis Dunlap Jr. especially had a pretty terrible game. But he was not alone. The push on the run blocking wasn’t there. Tanner Morgan was left ducking and weaving far too often by poor pass protection. Just frustrating to watch.
  • But just as frustrating was the play calling on both sides of the ball. On a night when the offensive line was struggling there were slow developing pass plays called. A LOT of slow developing pass plays called. On defense when the front 4 couldn’t generate a pass rush it took a long time to bring additional pressure (though again, the bigger problem was the lack of front 4 pressure).
  • Oh yea, tackling. It helps when you tackle and stuff.
  • We missed an extra point. Sure it was a longer one because of a Dunlap penalty, but I shouldn’t need to elaborate on why that’s troubling.
  • Good news? Well, Rashad Bateman is still very very very talented.

Final thoughts

Look, there was very little to be excited about in this one. If the things that went poorly tonight don’t get fixed then all of our optimism is gonna get smashed against painful reality REAL quick. But the team we saw tonight was also noticeably less consistent and less cohesive than the one we saw at the end of last season. So much so that it’s hard for it to make sense given the number of returning players. That’s frustrating, but it’s not final. It’s uncomfortable, but not unchangeable. Time will tell whether the Gophers will clean up the things that need cleaning. But for now, the Gophers are 1-0.