Every once in a while I get annoyed by something. Specifically something related to Gopher football. Fans are dumb, is typically what it comes down to. I don’t mean you necessarily. Well, sometimes I do. But I mean collectively.
Maybe I get annoyed because I’m just right and people disagree. Then they use ridiculously naïve or simpleton reasons to support their stance and I just get annoyed.
One of them being the “moral victory” discussion. When the Gophers lose, often to a superior opponent, then one cannot critically analyze that loss and actually find things that the Gophers did well. Perhaps even did well enough in some areas to provide optimism.
Take last week’s Ohio State loss, for example. That was a loss and nobody is thrilled with losing, even if it was ONLY 14 points and we led in the 3rd quarter. But one can take that loss, look at how we fared well in certain areas, struggled in others and use that to asses where we are as a team in this early part of the season.
But, to my general annoyance, that often gets the response that by pulling out the positives we are accepting a loss and just happy to be here. The old, “Moral Victory” argument.
Here’s where my real problem lies with this.
The same people (and again, I don’t mean you. But I might mean YOU) who hate the acceptance of a moral victory (meaning that a loss is a loss, regardless of how well you played), those same people will critically analyze a WIN and twist it into a loss if we won ugly.
The opposite of a moral victory. A “we should have loss, loss.” Or something like that.
On the flip side, one shouldn’t be allowed to be pleased with the positives of a loss and then blindly ignore the ugliness of a win over an inferior opponent. The “a win is a win” crowd isn’t without sin here either.
So where does that leave us through two weeks of the season?
Great question...I have no idea.
I really do feel as though the Gophers showed some good things in their first 3 quarters against Ohio State. The offensive line dominated the line of scrimmage and overall the Buckeyes were on their heels before the superior team took over and dominated the 4th quarter.
Then Miami-OH comes to town and for 2 quarters the Gophers were doing exactly what they were supposed to be doing. The Red Hawks couldn’t move ball and the Gopher offense rolled to 21, first half points. Then things got very ugly in the 2nd half.
On the one hand, a win really is a win. Ask Florida State fans if they’d be happier with an ugly win or an ugly loss to Jacksonville State? Or check in with USC fans after losing to a down Stanford team at home.
Instead of being forced to just accept a loss as a loss and a win as a win, how about we be simply accept the results with emotion and then look critically at how those results happened.
This was supposed to be a “get-right” game for the Gophers after losing to Ohio State. Fix the issues that were exposed last Thursday and take care of business at home in game 2. And all signs pointed to that, early. Then a different team showed up in the 2nd half. An offense that could not move the ball or complete a pass (like literally). A defense that gave inexplicably up 10 times more yards in the 2nd half than they did in the 1st.
So where does that leave the Gophers for the rest of 2021?
Great question...I have no idea.
I’ll say this. I am confident that this coaching staff has shown their teams get better throughout the season. Noticeably better.
- 2018 went from getting their asses kicked by the likes of Maryland (5-7), Nebraska (4-8) and Illinois (4-8) to beating Wisconsin in Madison to end the year. Followed by a dominating bowl performance over Georgia Tech.
- 2019 was a truly ugly in the non-conference (OT at Fresno, scored with 13 seconds to beat Georgia Southern and really were lucky to beat South Dakota St), but that team improved dramatically throughout.
- 2020, even in this weird year they gave up 94 points in the first 2 games and finished the season strong.
Not a guarantee that we’ll be so much better, but this is a pattern. For now, I’m not terribly worried about the second half of Saturday’s win. I’ll take the W and cautiously await the rest of the season.
Colorado makes for a great matchup right now. I really do love how this schedule is playing out. The Buffalos surprised everyone by holding Texas A&M to 10 points and leading for most of the game. This changes my confidence level for next week. But a very good test for the Gophers as they progress through the schedule.
Until next week...