Gophers’ Keys to Victory Over Iowa
After another head-scratching loss for Minnesota, Floyd of Rosedale is on the line. So is the lead, or at least a share of it, in the Big Ten West. Here are the Gophers’ keys to victory over Iowa:
Establish the Run
Whether it’s Ky Thomas, Bucko Irving, or a combination- perhaps with a little Cole Kramer thrown in- the Gophers need to find some way to get the ground game going. While it was nice to see the Gophers have more success in the passing game against Illinois, the run is their bread-and-butter, and 89 yards won’t cut it against Iowa.
Unfortunately for the Gophers, Iowa’s run defense is generally one of their strengths. This year is no exception; the Hawkeyes currently rank eighth in the nation at stopping the run. Even in their two losses, they allowed just 166 rushing yards to Wisconsin and 86 to Purdue. But somehow, Minnesota needs to establish- and have a reasonable amount of success with- their ground game.
Gopher quarterback Tanner Morgan has played well for long stretches this year, but those stretches are often punctuated by horribly-timed interceptions. With Chris Autman-Bell, Daniel Jackson, Dylan Wright, and Mike Brown-Stephens, the Gophers have one of their deepest receiving corps in years, and will certainly need to utilize them this week. Morgan’s accuracy needs to be on point.
Get After the Quarterback
According to our Iowa writer Nick Lemkau, sophomore Alex Padilla will face the Gophers. Starter Spencer Petras injured his shoulder against Northwestern. Regardless of who is under center, Minnesota’s front four need to continue their recent trend of harassing quarterbacks. Since the Bowling Green… event, the entire front seven seems to have reached another level. Mariano Sori-Marin and Jack Gibbens have combined for 125 tackles and are as formidable a pair of linebackers as any in the Big Ten West. Nyles Pinckney, the Clemson transfer, was a huge add. Boye Mafe has, as expected, really come into his own this year. Ditto for Thomas Rush.
It’s going to take all of them this week. Iowa always has a good offensive line, and this will likely be the best one Minnesota has faced since Ohio State. If the Gophers can add to their sack total, and force the quarterback into some bad throws and an interception or two, they’ll have a chance.
The Gophers’ keys to victory against Iowa are to establish the run, avoid turnovers, and get after Iowa’s quarterback. If they can do all three, they have a chance in this game. Standing in their way are Iowa’s stout offensive line and run-stuffing defense. But the Gophers rebounded from the Bowling Green game by beating Purdue- let’s hope they can pull off a similar feat this weekend.