Week 1 was a Big Ten West opponent and now we face a solid MAC opponent in week 2. I really love the Thursday opener, giving you 10 days to prepare for your week 2 opponent. Maybe it doesn’t really offer much of an advantage, or maybe it does.
How to Watch
Eastern Michigan is no pushover, this was a 9-win team last year that beat Arizona State and went on to win a bowl game. They aren’t coming to Huntington Bank Stadium intimidated. Here are the keys to making sure this MAC team doesn’t take down your Golden Gophers.
- Don’t go into turtle mode - This is precisely when PJ Fleck reduces his offense to about 3 plays, we sweat out a game that’s much closer than it should be and hope that the defense bails us out. You can run a variety of plays without giving away your entire playbook.
- Find a running game - Fleck, in his weekly press conference, made a comment that they may have to be a team that uses the pass to set up the run. That’s great, do that, but then I really want to see the offensive line own the line of scrimmage and help establish a running game.
- Win turnovers again - Maybe this is going to be one of those fun teams that just finds ways to force key turnovers game after game. This is just one of those games that you cannot give the ball away early. Don’t give them any confidence.
OPPOSING PLAYERS TO WATCH
- #24 WR- Tanner Knue - 8 receptions last week, I feel like if the Gophers are going to make EMU one-dimensional that taking away Knue as an option is the best way to do that. Don’t let this kid get open, then be prepared contain a scrambling Austin Smith.
- #98 DT - Tim Grant-Randall - This stumpy DT had 1.5 sacks last week. That fact, plus the notion that our interior OL hasn’t been great, means we need to make sure this kid isn’t spending his Saturday night in our backfield.
I’d like to think that Fleck has learned his lesson about playing super vanilla in these type of games, but I don’t think that’s going to be the case. This is going to be closer than it should be.
HOPEFULLY, the offensive line got a pointed message about how they need to be better and they will take this out on the EMU front. If the Gophers can find a way to run the ball (Howard ran all over them), then this game is over in the 3rd quarter.
Minnesota - 30
Eastern Michigan- 7