Gophers Fall Short Against Iowa

Gophers Fall Short Against Iowa

It was a disappointing Saturday for Minnesota fans, who watched the Gophers fall short against Iowa by FIVE points, 27- 22.  Frustratingly, the team in maroon and gold actually outplayed their opponents in several facets of the game. Minnesota had the edge in total yards (409 to 277), first downs (23 to 12), and turnovers (none, to Iowa’s one). They also had a 40:19 to 19:41 edge (more than double!) in time of possession.

In our preview of this game, we listed three things the Gophers had to do to have a chance in this game. Here’s how they did:

Establish the Run: Check

This went far better than Minnesota fans probably expected. Against Iowa’s eighth-ranked run defense, the Gophers combo of Ky Thomas and Mar’Keise Irving combined for 206 yards. Thomas was the bell cow in this game, with 126 of those yards. The toss sweep was working to perfection. It would be tough to ask for much more out of the offense.

(This makes the Illinois game even more of a head-scratcher: how did the Illini defense hold this offense to 89 yards on the ground?)

Avoid Turnovers: Check

Tanner Morgan has developed an Eli Manning-esque penchant for throwing picks at the worst possible times. Add in his habit of letting the play clock go down to :02 before calling for the snap, and the resemblance is scary. (Giants fans know).

However, the Gophers had a clean sheet in this game- no interceptions from Morgan and no lost fumbles. While his numbers were pedestrian (14 of 30 for 183 yards and a touchdown), and he overthrew receivers several times, he also kept the team in the game. The 68-yard touchdown pass to Chris Autman-Bell, narrowing the deficit to two points, was a thing of beauty.

Get After the Quarterback: X

While they didn’t get the kind of pressure on the quarterback one would hope for, the defense didn’t play badly. Ironically, Minnesota was the run-stuffing team in this game, holding Iowa to just 71 yards on the ground. Hawkeye quarterback Alex Padilla, replacing the injured Spencer Petras, threw for 206 yards and two touchdowns and ran it in for another. Given the way Minnesota’s front seven has rounded into form this season, it was probably smart of Iowa to attack through the air rather than with the run.

Other Observations:

  • It’s nice to see some creativity in the play-calling. Bringing Kramer in, getting Iowa to think quarterback run, and then passing to the seldom-used Ko Kieft was brilliant.
  • Freshman Justin Walley is being used more often, and rightly so. He made a glaring mistake on the fair-catch interference that gave Iowa 15 yards, but he’s good and going to get better.
  • Next week, Connor Olson will set the Big Ten record for career starts, with 56. Olson plans on going to medical school, so he’s presumably a standout student as well. Very impressive.

Up Next:

The Gophers face Indiana next week. The Hoosiers will be in a rotten mood, coming off of a 38-3 drubbing by… Rutgers. Things in the student section got interesting.