One thing really stood out to me in the post-game press conference on Saturday. For the second consecutive week, the Gophers were dominating their opponent. Physically, they were controlling the line of scrimmage and they were executing well on both sides of the ball.
The Gophers shut out a bad New Mexico State team and they went into halftime of the Western Illinois game with a 31-3 lead. Things had been going very well through the first 6 quarters of the 2022 season. But here is what PJ Fleck had to say post-game about that half-time discussion.
“We brought them in at halftime and I think it was 31-3 and I said “Here’s where break boring comes out.” You know 31-3, everybody is sitting there, going “Okay, well, why do you guys still have the starters in.” You know, it’s not about that. It’s about breaking boring. It’s about creating a better second half. These are the things we have to get better at. Go do it. That’s the test. And who can be better at that test week in week out.”
In other words, do not get complacent.
Human nature would be to put things into cruise control starting the third quarter. This game was well in hand and there appeared to be no threat that the Leathernecks would outscore the Gophers by more than 4 touchdowns in the second half.
But that is not what the Gophers did. The Fleck speech at halftime worked. The Gophers came out and turned things up a notch. On the opening Western drive of the 3rd quarter, the defense forced a 3-and-out. Then the offense took the ball. They went 69 yards on 6 plays for a touchdown.
- Mohamed Ibrahim for 14 yards
- Ibrahim for 16 yards
- Tanner Morgan to Brevyn Spann-Ford for 11 yards
- Ibrahim for 23 yards (down to the 5)
- 2 more Ibrahim rushes to get into the end zone
Those first four plays on offense absolutely were a statement to breaking boring.
This, more than the final score and impressive numbers, was the most impressive thing about Saturday.
The same applies to looking around the rest of the conference, especially the division. Break boring, don’t get complacent, and assume the rest of the Big Ten West is going to lay down as the Gophers roll to a trip to Indianapolis.
First of all, it seems like Iowa always struggles early. But they also always find their footing, settle into the best field-position team in the country and find ways to win a lot of games. Especially finding creative ways to beat Minnesota.
Wisconsin lost at home to a middle-of-the-pack Pac-12 team. They are not finding a passing game, but their ground game is elite and their defense is too. It was a bad loss for the Badgers, but we should not be writing their obituary just yet.
Purdue might be the West team that has me more concerned than the rest, at the moment. That passing game is going to be a problem. I’m thankful this one is at home, but it is no gimme.
Illinois has a legit defense. This is not an exaggeration. Should it be a Gopher win? Yes, but it may be ugly and it will be on the road.
Nebraska is a mess, but to be honest I think they’ll clean up a lot with someone else taking over managing that program for the rest of the season. Scott Frost may really have been THE problem over there, and expect fewer mistakes from what is actually a pretty talented roster. This game concerns me.
And what has Minnesota done? Exactly what they were supposed to do, but it has been against 2 of the worst teams in college football. This week’s test may not be much more of a test and once again, they’ll have to do what they are supposed to do. It was a 30-0 game in Boulder last year and this Buffs team may be worse.
Take care of business. Don’t get complacent. And break boring.