You hear it from coaches all of the time. It is a sports cliche that is used regardless of what ball sport you may be referring to.
“One game at a time.”
Teams have to take things one game at a time, this is obvious and the entire reason this cliche is so cliche. You can’t look ahead beyond your next opponent or you fall prey to the dreaded trap game. But you also really can’t look back at what happened before. And that is what I’m going to focus on today.
The Gophers, over their last 12 games played, are a perfect example that past performances are not necessarily indicative of future success (or failure).
Primarily, this TMP is for Gopher fans as a reminder that each game is totally different. This is not about looking ahead to future opponents, predicting our final record. This is not looking back to rehash mistakes. It is trying to push the idea one game’s performance, good or bad, is not going to predict precisely how things will play out in subsequent weeks.
This week’s win is a good reminder, and arguably a better time to discuss this than after playing worse.
If I were to go back I could find example after example where coaches should be fired and there is zero chance of ever winning another game following a poor performance by the team.
- If the offensive line can’t open a hole against [insert MAC level football team] then they don’t stand a chance against a Big Ten team.
- If this defense gives up [insert very large number of yards] yards to [insert terrible team we feel we should have easily beat] they aren’t going to win another game the rest of the year.
- If [insert coordinator or head coach name] can’t teach them basic [insert football activity that seems easy] then...you get the point.
I could go back to so many past Gopher games and the comment sections in our articles to highlight this. But here is my point, one game’s failures OR success, do not have direct bearing on future games.
Want some examples?
Last year this Gopher program was embarassed by a bad Illinois team. A team (defense) that looked so bad it was pretty clear they were not going to get another win to finish out the season. But guess what? They did. That awful defense shut down a really good Purdue offense, they dominated Wisconsin on the road and they stopped a unique Georgia Tech offense in the bowl game.
How? Adjustments were made. People and schemes improved. And the overall product was much better.
This year the offensive line was unable to open holes for the running game while their quarterback was sacked 5 times against Georgia Southern at home. Well that offensive line helped Rodney Smith to 115 yards rushing, giving Tanner Morgan the opportunity to complete 21 of 22 passes and beat Purdue on the road.
Now on the flip side. The passing game on Saturday was truly elite and impressive. Next week, even against Illinois, things might look very different. We might not see 396 yards of offense for Tanner Morgan ever again in his career. Why? Teams make adjustments, game plans change due to the opponent and ever single game is just different.
My point is that we absolutely have to let this season play out. I’m feeling good about being 4-0, but there are 8 regular season games left and there is so much that could (and will) happen. Am I looking ahead and praying this team gets to 8-0 with a chance to be special in the last month? Yes, I am...I’m a fan.
Am I ignoring some of their issues as if we’ve been perfect along the way? No, we have to continue to get better.
But each game is completely different and this Gopher team will do what it can to win every game. Win it close, win it big, it doesn’t matter as long as you have 1 more point than the opponent.
Don’t get too high or too low, cause there will be swings along the way. Enjoy the season, Gopher fans.