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Minnesota Football vs. Miami (Ohio): The Elite, The Meh & The Ugly

It was a tale of two halves for the Gophers

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 11 Miami OH at Minnesota

The Minnesota Golden Gophers recorded their first win of the season but seemed to come out of the locker room at halftime on a mission to make sure we’d have enough to complain about. It wasn’t all bad — though to be clear, there was plenty of bad.

The Elite

Trey Potts. Most fans came into the game expecting to see an open audition at running back, but the game turned out to be more of a showcase for Trey Potts. In his first career start, Potts was up to the task, rushing for 178 yards and two touchdowns on 34 carries. Most importantly, when the team’s back was against the wall, Potts delivered. After the RedHawks cut the score to 21-20 in the fourth quarter, he accounted for all 53 yards of the Gophers’ scoring drive, capped by a 21-yard touchdown run. Potts also iced the game for Minnesota, taking five straight carries and gaining 11 yards on 3rd & 4 to allow the Gophers to run out the game clock.

Bucky Irving’s 43-yard kickoff return. When Minnesota was in desperate need of a spark late in the game, the true freshman running back delivered. Mar’Keise “Bucky” Irving weaved through the RedHawks’ kickoff team for a 43-yard return that set up the Gophers’ offense near midfield.

Tyler Nubin’s interception. After Miami (Ohio) opened the second half with three straight scoring drives, Minnesota needed someone to step up and make a play. Tyler Nubin stepped up in the fourth quarter, intercepting RedHawks quarterback Brett Gabbert and returning it to the Miami (Ohio) 32-yard line to set up a scoring drive for the Gophers to make it a two-possession game.

Matthew Trickett. The Gophers may have finally found a reliable kicker. The Kent State transfer made a 46-yard field goal against Ohio State and followed that up with a 50-yard field goal against Miami (Ohio). Trickett is also 8-for-8 on PATs so far. I don’t take that for granted.

The Gophers survived. At the end of the day, that’s what matters. Minnesota was awful in the second half and still found a way to win. The 2019 season is proof that your performance against inferior non-conference opponents does not determine the course of your season, but it’s up to the Gophers now to correct the mistakes that nearly cost them against Miami (Ohio). They’ll need to improve quickly, as Colorado looks formidable after nearly upsetting No. 5-ranked Texas A&M.

The Meh

The wide receivers. Dylan Wright made it two straight games with a receiving touchdown, but he also had a fair share of drops and did not return to the game after taking a shot on a third down pass in the second half. Daniel Jackson hauled in the first two receptions of the game and contributed a touchdown of his own, then disappeared after that. Chris Autman-Bell didn’t dress for the game but hopefully he’ll be cleared to play against Colorado, because Minnesota desperately needs a more consistent playmaker in the passing game.

The Ugly

Pretty much the entire second half. After limiting the RedHawks to three points and 20 yards of offense in the first half, the Gophers’ defense surrendered 23 points and 321 yards of offense in the second half. After finishing the first half 8-for-11 for 112 passing yards and two touchdowns, Tanner Morgan was 0-for-6 in the second half. Minnesota only gained 10 yards of offense in the third quarter. More than a few passes were dropped. The Gophers struggled to find a rhythm on offense, especially from a play-calling standpoint. The offensive line struggled to consistently open up holes for Potts, especially when expected to do so against stacked boxes.

Minnesota’s defensive line. The Gophers’ defensive line was supposed to be the strength of the defense this season, but so far they have not been very disruptive against the run and have failed to generate much of a pass rush. Even when defensive coordinator Joe Rossi dials up extra pressure, the Gophers have not been able to get home, leaving the secondary vulnerable in one-on-one coverage. Minnesota has yet to even record a sack this season. Defensive end M.J. Anderson had a solid performance Saturday, but he was a lone bright spot.

The lack of “a pair and a spare.” Fans were concerned about the drop-off from Mohamed Ibrahim, but now I’m a bit concerned about the drop-off from Treyson Potts. Cam Wiley and Bryce Williams combined for five carries for -2 rushing yards. Not great.