Friday night’s game against Maryland did not go well for Minnesota.
Now we must discuss it.
What is your Tweet-length (280 characters or less) summary of the Gophers’ 45-44 overtime loss to Maryland?
GoAUpher: Haiku time.
Poo emoji game
So glad I didn’t see it
Honeymoon is great
Ustreet: #RUTM still sucks.
gopherguy05: When you can’t tell if your OC is Mike Sanford or Matt Limegrover, you might have a problem. When you can’t tell if your DC is Joe Rossi or Robb Smith, you might have a problem. If your kicker, walk-on or not, can’t make an extra point... You get the idea.
GopherNation: Well that game sucked. The defense has a lot of work to do, but at least Mo was really fun to watch.
Blake Ruane: I am dead inside.
I think we can all agree Mohamed Ibrahim is the “Nekton of the Week.” Is there anyone else you think merits recognition? And “No” is an acceptable answer.
Ustreet: Chris Autman-Bell would qualify.
gopherguy05: Mo is the answer. CAB definitely deserves honorable mention though. I’ll even give Coney Durr props for being the only defensive player I didn’t swear at once during the game.
GopherNation: Yeah, it is Mo. But De’Angelo Carter’s interception return was pretty fun to watch.
Blake: CAB had himself a game.
The passing game has been anemic through the first two games. Have the Gophers gotten away from what made them such a dangerous offense a season ago?
Ustreet: Hard to tell through two games. I think the distribution is roughly the same and the vanilla nature reminiscent of previous nonconference games.
gopherguy05: The play-calling has been interesting, especially in the fourth quarter of the Maryland game. I like riding Mo, but you have to get some some open pass plays when you have the quality of quarterback and wide receivers you supposedly have.
GopherNation: I don’t think so. In Week 1, there was no pocket and they were trying to establish some offensive rhythm. This week they were running at a 5.2 yard average for 262 yards. Running the ball was successful all night, no reason not to keep doing what’s working.
Blake: I tend to agree with GN on this. Mike Sanford Jr. needed to change things up in the fourth quarter when Axel Ruschmeyer left the game, his replacement Nathan Boe struggled in run blocking, and Maryland was selling out to stop the run. I have no problem riding out the game on Mo’s legs, but when it stops working, you need to be able to adjust.
The Gophers’ defense is bad. Very bad. How does this degree of bad happen in Year 4 of the P.J. Fleck era?
Ustreet: Losing a bunch of NFL talent, having a failed recruiting class and poor evaluation from the previous staff, COVID decimating practices, and right now coaching issues either at the scheme level or the execution level.
gopherguy05: What he said.
GopherNation: Yup, losing four players who are on NFL rosters plus three more multi-year starters is not easy to overcome. There just isn’t program depth here. We knew that there would be a step back with the defense, this is just much more than we anticipated.
Blake: I think Ustreet about covered it, and GN is correct in that we knew a step back was coming. But it is extremely discouraging to see such a catastrophic step back.
Is it even realistic to expect the defense to improve dramatically between now and the end of the season? Is this fixable, or is this a situation where what you see is what you get?
Ustreet: I imagine that the defense will be improved by the 5th game of the season. Dramatic depends on where you set the baseline.
gopherguy05: Yes it can improve. How much is an open question, but it doesn’t need to be this bad.
GopherNation: Agreed, this can improve. So much of it is poor angles, blown assignments, and other mental mistakes. This unit won’t be dominant; it’s young and has a long way to go.
Blake: I am skeptical that it can improve to a meaningful degree. They look so slow out there, and I don’t know how much you can expect players to get better at quickly reading and reacting in the span of a couple months.
What are your expectations for the rest of the season?
Ustreet: I expect the offense to improve and recognize that they have NFL-caliber wide receivers. I expect to see a lot of youth on defense. I hope to see more Boye Mafe and less Thomas Rush at defensive end, not because I think Thomas Rush is necessarily a bad player, but because Boye Mafe is the best defensive end on the roster right now.
gopherguy05: If they can’t beat Illinois on Saturday, I fully endorse a remainder of the 2020 season where P.J. treats it like a 2021 preseason playing as many young guys as possible to get them experience and set them up in the absolute best possible position personnel-wise for 2021. But I don’t expect that to happen.
GopherNation: I want them to win games but really I just want to see the defense and offensive line get better. Improve throughout the year and the bonus is to add a rivalry trophy.
Blake: I will be doing the best I can to tune out the noise. National media and fans of rival programs are already having a field day with how poorly this team is playing. That is out of our control. Let them have their fun. This team is bad, and I don’t expect them to win a game the rest of the season. I’m holding out for marked improvement from week-to-week. Wins would be nice, but at this point, there is no reason to expect them.