The bye week is often a time for self-scouting and reevaluating before moving on to the next opponent. And that is exactly what TMP is going to do as well.
As is often the focal point of discussion here, so much of how we feel about the season is based on expectations. A month ago the expectations here were very high for the 2019 team. My expectations were no exception. This was quite possibly the most excited I had been for a Gopher football team since the existence of the blog.
Now the team is sitting at 3-0 with every opportunity to accomplish all of the goals we’d hoped they could attain this season. But why does it feel as though this has been the biggest disaster of a start to a season since Tim Brewster?
So, I know the answer to this question. The team is 3-0 but they are undefeated due to some combination of being lucky and “gutty,” completely buying into & trusting the culture. The process, the journey to 3-0 has been ugly and the team really appears to be fortunate more than good at this point.
Here is where I’m going to say that we all need to take a collective breath and let things play out further.
First and foremost I firmly believe that one game or even a few games do not automatically translate to exactly the way this team will play for every subsequent game of the season. If I had a dollar every comment I read that said something to the effect,
- “If this team can’t [insert area of struggle] they sure as hell won’t win another game the rest of the year,”
- “If this team can’t [insert football thing you generally want to accomplish] against [insert perceived weaker team] then they stand no chance of beating anybody in the Big Ten.”
But you know what? Most of the time things change throughout the season. I encourage you to go back and read comments here or on any Gopher board during and after the Nebraska & Illinois games last season.
The key word here is “if.”
Without a doubt, “if” the offensive line doesn’t get better and “if” this team doesn’t dramatically reduce the mistakes they are making, then yes...it will be very hard for them to compete in the Big Ten. But why must we assume the worst?
What happened after the Illinois and the Nebraska games? Issues were addressed, corrected and the team finished looking dramatically different than the team that was being destroyed by us armchair pundits.
Now, this is not an encouragement to bury your head in the sand, pretend like everything is rosy. The issues we are seeing have been present for all three games this year. And they absolutely have to be fixed.
But now, especially during the bye week, I encourage everyone to take a deep breath and enjoy the season. There are 9 games remaining and before we start calling for heads (because of unmet expectations at this point), let’s see how things evolve throughout the season.
There are a number of teams who have also played poorly and would be very happy to be sitting at 3-0. It has been an ugly journey and it is rather haughty to assume that each of our opponents has circled Minnesota as their “Super Bowl.” Did those programs desperately want a P5 win on their resume? For sure, but let’s not get carried away. But those teams gave us their best shot and they are talented teams. In last week’s S&P rankings, Fresno State rated ahead of Nebraska, Purdue, Northwestern, Illinois and Rutgers. We beat them on the road. Georgia Southern rated ahead of Easter Michigan and Nevada, two teams who have wins over Big Ten programs this year.
Say what you will about how the Gophers have executed, they have still found a way to win.
My outlook on the season is not as strong as it once was, I’m watching the same games you are. But I still see the talent being there and correctable mistakes sitting out there. Fortunately there is time to see if those occur. The season isn’t determined in September.