The Minnesota Golden Gophers escaped West Lafayette on Saturday with just the second conference road of the P.J. Fleck era, holding off the Purdue Boilermakers to come out on top with a 38-31 victory. It was closer than it should have been, but a win’s a win.
Now comes the part where we talk about that win.
What is your Tweet-length (280 characters or less) summary of the Gophers’ 38-31 victory over Purdue?
GopherNation: Any time you can get a conference road win, I am very happy. This game ended up within a touchdown but was one onside away from seeing a backup quarterback. Is Purdue great? No, but a road conference win is huge and shows that we can play against Big Ten competition and win.
GoAUpher: HAIKU TIME:
Passing game was fun
Near perfection suits Tanner
Onside kicks are bad
gopherguy05: Offense very, very good, defense still shaky at times. Can’t wait until we can put it together 100% for once. Maybe Illinois on Saturday?
zipsofakron: I listened to the game on the radio while biking around the city, so I only caught Mike Grimm’s emphatic or exasperated calls. There were far more emphatic calls, so I’m guessing we won?
IowaGopher: I’m going to try to not let a bad fourth quarter wreck what was an otherwise fun and surprising three quarters of Gopher football. 4-0. Next!
Ustreet: Give the ball to playmakers in space. Profit.
WhiteSpeedReceiver: We’re 4-0, 1-0 in the B1G. That doesn’t happen often.
mowe0018: Conference win on the road is good no matter what. Just win, baby. 4-0.
To borrow a Fleck-ism, who is your pick for “Nekton of the Week” from the game?
GopherNation: Tanner Morgan was awesome. 21 of 22 passing is incredible. Think he can’t win us a game with his arm? Still not convinced he can do it frequently, but he certainly did on Saturday after driving his offense for the game-winning drive last week. This kid is more than just an average quarterback.
GoAUpher: I said Benjamin St. Juste on Great Takes, Less Filling and I’ll stick with it. One, because he had an under the radar great game at corner, and two, because when he makes a slick pass break-up I love his low key “hip pocket” celebration.
gopherguy05: Tanner would be the easy choice. I’ll give it to Rashod Bateman. That kid is balling out right now and really can’t be stopped.
zipsofakron: How about the guy who only threw one incompletion and racked up video game numbers in a RPO offense? Tanner Something.
IowaGopher: Tanner Something sounds good to me.
Ustreet: Kamal Martin for the two picks. Other possibilities are Jacob Herbers for an excellent punting show and Phillip Howard for making sure those punts were not touchbacks.
WhiteSpeedReceiver: Yeah, it’s Tanner. The offensive line and wide receivers should get a sly nod as well for their work helping out.
mowe0018: Gotta be Tanner Morgan, right?
Was Tanner Morgan’s record-setting performance lightning in a bottle or a sign of things to come?
GopherNation: I think he is better than he gets credit for, but not exactly as good as he looked this past Saturday. I mentioned it above, but he is doing all he’s being asked to and more. He is not perfect, he’ll make mistakes, but he also can be very good. Find me a Big Ten quarterback who doesn’t make mistakes. I’ll take this kid all 15 games this year.
GoAUpher: I wouldn’t say lightning in a bottle, but I wouldn’t expect this week in and week out. That said, if the passes are there I have confidence that he can execute a similar game plan to great success against many of the teams Minnesota will face this season. There’s a reason that, even in uneven starts before this, his completion percentage has never been the issue.
gopherguy05: He can be consistently decent. The key is not making the mistakes he had traditionally been making one to three times a game up to last Saturday. It was obviously his best game as a Gopher, but things most likely won’t be that easy against a lot of other teams. But smart play will go a long way.
zipsofakron: If his performance is a microcosm of the offense actually focusing on getting their NFL-caliber receiving corps the ball, then I’m leaning towards this being a sign of things to come. But for real, throw the ball to your damn receivers and this is what happens.
IowaGopher: I’m going to agree with zips again. The Gophers have unprecedented levels of talent at the wide receiver position. If they can consistently take advantage of that, look out. I don’t expect the kinds of numbers we saw against Purdue, but this Minnesota passing attack could be one of the best in the Big Ten when all is said and done.
Ustreet: I’d argue he only threw three passes that I would consider “difficult,” so there’s no reason that he cannot be in the 65-70% range every game.
WhiteSpeedReceiver: I highly doubt we’re going to get those kinds of numbers again, but I do believe we’re watching the best Gopher quarterback in multiple generations of house pets. I think with our wide receiver corps we should be able to get around a 70% completion percentage with a couple touchdowns and 250+ yards every week.
mowe0018: I think he’s a good RPO quarterback. If the line gives him time, he will complete a majority of these short and intermediate routes. The receivers will get that YAC. He could have quality numbers by the end of the year.
Do you foresee Minnesota being more of a pass-heavy offense moving forward or are we simply waiting for the ground game to get going?
GopherNation: I think this team will still try to run inside zone first. If that works, it’ll be run over and over and over. But this offense also has a lot of weapons on offense that they are utilizing. If they aren’t utilizing Tyler Johnson and Rashod Bateman, then everybody needs to be fired.
GoAUpher: I hope you’ll see the offense take what the defense gives them and use one to set up the other based on who we’re playing. There seem to be some strong defenses in the Big Ten West (UW and Northwestern stand out thus far) but I don’t know if either of them have played good enough competition for me to say that they can lock down anyone and everyone they face or if they’re really good but can be exploited to at least some success with the right execution.
gopherguy05: In an ideal world, you want one to play off of the other. Opening up the passing game should hopefully allow the Gopher running game to find some space, and vice versa. But I don’t see us being a team that throws the ball 50 times a game anytime soon. We still need to pound the ball effectively.
zipsofakron: See above. TRUST THE SLANT.
IowaGopher: As long as it is working, I don’t mind the Gophers being more of a pass-first offense. But I think as the offensive line continues to progress in run blocking, we’ll start to see a more dynamic offense. Minnesota has an embarrassment of riches at running back and it would be disappointing to see that wasted.
Ustreet: Give the ball to your playmakers in space. Until the line starts opening up space, this team should be pass heavy.
WhiteSpeedReceiver: I have no problem using the pass to establish the run, since our playmakers are definitely at the wide receiver position. The key here is to actually establish the run, because we’re going to want to grind more clock as the weather starts to change.
mowe0018: I would hope it depends on the defense’s strengths. I hope the offense displays competency in both the run and the pass and can deploy the preferred strategy to counteract whatever Big Ten defense it is facing that week.
How would you grade the performance of the Gophers’ offensive line against Purdue?
GopherNation: Getting better. This group just needs to get a better every game. And this unit really did improve throughout the season last year. I’m most disappointed that they didn’t start from a better place, but they’ll get better. (I think)
GoAUpher: I was pleased, but I do still worry about how they’ll do when the caliber of defensive line they face improves. Continued improvement/consistency in upcoming games will calm my fears.
gopherguy05: B-. There is still plenty of work to be done. Minnesota made plays on Saturday in spite of the play of the line at times. It won’t be that easy against the Iowas and Penn States of the world.
IowaGopher: B. Even with four sacks, Tanner Morgan had enough time to complete 21 passes and rack up nearly 400 yards passing. And Rodney Smith had his first 100-yard rushing game of the season. They were good enough for me. For now.
Ustreet: C. Four sacks is a poor showing and Rodney Smith makes a lot of lines look good.
WhiteSpeedReceiver: B. Could have been better, still did just fine.
mowe0018: B. Four sacks is bad but can’t argue with the overall product on the offensive side of the ball. When Rodney ran the ball, he averaged 5.2 yards per carry. Tanner had a historic day. I’d say the line did a a pretty good job.
Joe Rossi’s defense has been inconsistent at best. What is your biggest concern about the Gopher defense moving forward?
GopherNation: I don’t really have a concern about the Gopher defense. I think this side of the ball is good, not great. They won’t dominate, but I’m not sure they are talented enough to do so. They also get the job done. They need to clean some things up, but that’s true for everybody. Ultimately I‘m not concerned about the defense, they are fine.
GoAUpher: I think it’s about execution. Missed tackles can be corrected by coaches somewhat, but it really is a matter of the player screwing up.
gopherguy05: Consistency. Whether it’s individual tackling efforts or players just not being in the right spots at times, consistency is the key concern. That and the lack of an effective four-man pass rush will really hurt us eventually.
zipsofakron: I really hope they get better at tackling, or at least more consistent. It’s the essence of defense: stopping the offense from moving the ball forward.
IowaGopher: The good news is that I don’t think the issue is a lack of talent. I think there is talent all over the defense, but mental mistakes and sloppy tackling have reared their ugly heads. It’s all fixable, and I hope they can clean it up before the competition heats up.
Ustreet: I’m not sure I agree with the premise of the question. The biggest concern is tackling execution.
WhiteSpeedReceiver: I’m not really concerned. Everyone’s healthy-ish, and the things that go wrong don’t tend to repeat themselves week after week. Hopefully the surprise we see next week against Illinois is something stupid like a couple offside penalties because we think we have their cadence down.
mowe0018: General consistency and creating “havoc” plays. I think the D needs to finish plays behind the line of scrimmage with more consistency. This will have effects that percolate to other aspects of the defense with positive results.
Will the Gophers win a game by more than a touchdown this season?
GopherNation: Yes. Hi, Illinois.
GoAUpher: Probably not. (Here’s where you prove me wrong guys)
gopherguy05: Yes. Though they will still undoubtedly make some games that we all think should be blowouts a lot closer than we would like down the stretch.
zipsofakron: Absolutely. They’ll take Nebraska to town by more than 10 points. Illinois will be a nail-biter of course.
IowaGopher: No. Every game — win or lose — will be a nail-biter. And every Gopher fans’ health will be worse for it. Schedule a check-up for January.
WhiteSpeedReceiver: No. We are the chaos team and therefore every game must be unreasonably close.
mowe0018: Yes. Rutgers is on the docket.