Looking on the bright side- three positives from the Gophers’ loss to Iowa:
Minnesota is now 3-2, but all is not lost. Here are three glass-half-full things to take away from the Gophers’ loss to Iowa:
Minnesota Stopped The Run
While the run defense was lacking against Maryland before the bye week, the Gophers held Iowa to 106 yards on the ground. Leading rusher Ivory Kelly-Martin carried 20 times for just 47 yards, a week after averaging five yards per carry against Wisconsin. This is more like what I expected of the Minnesota front seven coming into the season.
A Breakout Game For Bateman
Quarterback Zach Annexstad had an up-and-down game, but he hit freshman Rashod Bateman with seven passes for 65 yards and two touchdowns. Tyler Johnson had another strong outing, averaging nearly eighteen yards a catch for 107 yards and a score.
While the Gophers committed four turnovers in this game, they also had two takeaways. Linebacker Thomas Barber recovered a fumble, and safety Jacob Huff picked off Hawkeye QB Nathan Stanley. Being able to force turnovers is critical for a team with the inexperience Minnesota has on offense. It’s to be expected they’ll turn the ball over themselves as part of the learning process.
After the Gophers’ loss to Iowa, they get to face Ohio State. On its surface, this game doesn’t seem like one that will show us much about Minnesota. Obviously, the Gophers are not likely to win this game, or even keep it close. So why watch? I’m looking forward to what this game tells us about Minnesota from an emotional standpoint. Does anybody seem to check out mentally when the game is out of reach? What does the body language on the sidelines look like? What kinds of plays are the coaches calling? It’s not that any of these things will be critical this year, but the resilience of the younger players could be paying dividends in years to come.