Minnesota suffered its second straight conference defeat in a row, losing to Illinois 26-14. The Gophers are now 1-2 in conference play, and have some serious questions for the rest of the season. Illinois dominated on both sides of the ball, out-gaining the Gophers 472-180 in total yards. The Illini exposed the Gophers’ defense in all phases, even going 4-4 on fourth down conversions. When the Gophers had the ball on offense, they did little to nothing with it. Minnesota’s two quarterbacks had 6 completions and three interceptions for the game. Outside of Mo Ibrahim getting 100 yards, it is difficult for this blogger to think of a single positive takeaway from the offense.
To be frank, the offense has been pathetic over the last two games. There are two primary structural issues at play. First, the offensive line has been poor in run and pass protection. Running backs not named Mo Ibrahim are often hit in the backfield or immediately at the line of scrimmage. Whoever the quarterback is next week, and given the likely concussion to Morgan it will be a new starter, they will likely have to no time to find a receiver. Of course, even if they do find a receiver there is a good chance the ball will be dropped anyway. The result today was a combined 6-18 for 2.1 yards per pass.
Defensively, Joe Rossi was bested by his opposite number. Minnesota’s linebackers seemed out of sorts all game, the defensive ends failed to set the edge on multiple key plays, and as mentioned earlier could not stop a fourth down conversion all game.
Oh, there is also nothing in the rule book about punching a player in the head. To be clear, the play that almost certainly gave Tanner Morgan a concussion was unintentional, but so are many penalties in football.