Less than twelve hours after an article stated there was no way the Gophers would struggle, let alone lose to South Dakota was posted in this same spot, the Gophers did the unthinkable.
In what is easily the most embarrassing loss since the Gophers’ 2007 season; when they managed to lose to Bowling Green, Florida Atlantic, and FBS North Dakota State, Minnesota legitimately looked like an inferior team to the Coyotes.
On offense, the Gophers did what they needed to do, building off last week’s solid ground game with Duane Bennett putting up over 100 yards for the second straight week.
Through the air, Adam Weber looked very impressive, going 21-31 with 258 yards and three touchdowns. Weber also showed an aspect of his game that he got away from the last two years, rushing for 47 yards on six carries and picking up some key first downs.
Additionally, Weber once again made no mistakes and this week he made the big plays as well, connecting on a 49-yard TD pass with Troy Stoudermire in the first half, and a 26-yard TD completion to Da’Jon Mcknight in the third quarter.
The story of the game on the offensive side of the ball for the Gophers had to be Marqueis Gray, who had nine receptions for 91 yards and a score.
He seems to have established himself as the number one receiver on a team that desperately needs one, although he and Mcknight each let a pass go through their hands and hit them in the facemask.
Despite the dropped passes, Weber overshooting one or two open receivers, and Weber’s two fumbles when running the ball, the offense looked crisp and was the least of the Gophers massive problems today.
The majority of the reason for the debacle that was this Saturday afternoon for Gopher Nation was the complete and utter failure of their defense.
While they did manage two interceptions, one by linebacker Mike Rallis who had to be the defensive star of the game for the Gophers if anyone could even qualify for that award after this game, the Gophers were completely lost when it came to the passing game.
Coyotes starting QB Dante Warren, who was 10-19 for 104 yards last week in a 38-7 loss to Central Florida, picked apart the Gophers defense to the tune of 352 yards on 21-30 and three touchdowns.
The stats are good, but the Gophers made it easy.
On almost every pass, completion or not, Coyote receivers were running free and had practically no resistance even after they caught the ball.
Warren not only killed the Gophers through the air, but he was absolutely unstoppable running the ball, particularly on rollouts. His -1 yard rushing total from last week had many thinking he wouldn’t be a threat on the ground, but his two TDs and 81 yards tell different.
The Gophers looked confused, disoriented, and quite honestly, like they had never played defense in their entire lives. There was no recognition of play action and even on the simplest of crossing routes, the secondary could not figure out who was taking who.
This is a South Dakota team that just joined the FBS at the beginning of the 2008-09 season, and is not even eligible for postseason play yet. With the Gophers struggling this mightily with the Coyotes, how can fans expect them to be ready for USC next week?
Tim Brewster failed to get his guys to ready for this game. They got caught looking ahead to the Trojans and it cost Minnesota dearly.
They were flat, unmotivated, and sloppy throughout, and there is potential for national embarrassment heading into the matchup with USC next week.
The only thing Gophers fans can hope for out of this game is that the players were simply looking past South Dakota and that they are a better team than this. They just simply didn’t take the Coyotes seriously.
That is never a good thing, but in this scenario, it’s all Tim Brewster and the Gophers can hope for.
Are the Gophers really THIS bad?
They can play better, they proved that against Middle Tennessee State, who are a better team than South Dakota.
Can they compete with USC? Not even close after today, and specifically on the defensive side of the ball, they will need to make monumental strides just to be within shouting distance of the Trojans.
Regardless of next week, this week was possibly the worst thing that could’ve happened to the Gophers program, and the timing couldn’t have been any worse.
-Mike GallagherFollow paulmbanks