Best Gopher Offenses Over the Years

WinLoseOrTy

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Guaranteed it helped. When players see that they’re not only not being blown out, but - shock - they can win the game, they get a fire lit under their butts.
Different schools of thought. One being as you suggest that playing in close game or with lead is inspiring. The other being playing vs prevent style defenses makes it easier for an offense.

Here is the game by game breakdown.

Opponent - YPP - Points Allowed
New Mexico St - 6.4 - 10
Fresno St - 4.3 - 14
Miami - 4.2 - 3
Maryland - 3.6 - 42
Iowa - 4.8 - 48
Ohio St - 7.1 - 30
Nebraska - 6.6 - 53
Indiana - 7.5 - 31
Illinois - 6.3 - 55
Purdue - 6.8 - 10
Northwestern - 4.6 - 24
Wisconsin - 5.2 - 15
Georgia Tech - 7.0 - 10


Defense gave up 55 and 53 points to Illinois and Nebraska, but offense managed an excellent 6.3 and 6.6 yards per play in those games. Likewise, defense dominated Miami, OH and Fresno St but offense was lethargic in those games at 4.2 and 4.3 yards per play.

Long story short, I suspect the impact of defensive performance isn't all that strong of indicator on offensive yards per play.
 

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You can play the game back and forth.

IL and Neb: their defenses were tired from having to be on the field so much. Our defense gave up points so quickly. And Faalele was a starter and Morgan had taken over by halftime at Neb.

Fresno and Miami: our defense was on the field longer, and our offense was less efficient earlier in the year. Also ZA played hurt for the Miami game after an ankle injury early in the game. (Also brutally hot that game)
 

WinLoseOrTy

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You can play the game back and forth.

IL and Neb: their defenses were tired from having to be on the field so much. Our defense gave up points so quickly. And Faalele was a starter and Morgan had taken over by halftime at Neb.

Fresno and Miami: our defense was on the field longer, and our offense was less efficient earlier in the year. Also ZA played hurt for the Miami game after an ankle injury early in the game. (Also brutally hot that game)
Time of Possession by game

Nebraska: 29:02
Gophers: 30:58

Illinois: 27:10
Gophers: 32:50

Fresno State: 23:19
Gophers: 36:41

Miami, OH: 25:29
Gophers: 34:31
 

rockford

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Or a person could just acknowledge that not everything needs to be eleventy dimensions deep.

The goal of a football offense is to score points and gain yards. And its ability to gain yards may actually be a key indicator of its ability ... to gain yards.

Yes, other aspects of the game have some impact on this measure. And if we were talking about actual wins, we would have to begin by saying that the ability to gain yards either via the rush or pass does not necessarily correlate with winning.

But that's not the discussion. The topic as per the OP is "Best Gophers offenses over the years." And I feel comfortable with my assertion that when looking at an entire season, yards gained is a fairly good indicator of offensive potency.

JTG
 

Gophers_4life

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Time of Possession by game

Nebraska: 29:02
Gophers: 30:58

Illinois: 27:10
Gophers: 32:50

Fresno State: 23:19
Gophers: 36:41

Miami, OH: 25:29
Gophers: 34:31
Got me there, was worth the guess.

I know for a fact that IL had some huge plays against us that would’ve put their D back on the field right away. Up so much, their garbage time offense could’ve equaled it out.

You can always make an argument for why one thing or another might not be exactly correct.


Do it goes right back to the question, what does it mean to have the best offense, and is that really meaningful? If we scored 70 points a game but lost half the games ... what does that mean??
 

MNVCGUY

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When you start talking best ever in sports it is silly to get totally hung up on the numbers because there are so many other variables at play.

In very general terms.

The offense under Wacker was fun to watch because they aired it out, the team of course was terrible and they were playing from behind a lot.

The offense under Mason was at times dominant and in general a lot of fun to watch but also extremely frustrating because they would seem to go away at those key moments late in games

The offense under Brewster was a mess because he could never settle on what kind of offense he wanted to have

The offense under Kill was disappointing for the most part. There were some good players but the passing game was a joke most of the time.

The offense under Claeys gets and incomplete because they only had the one year so tough to say what it would have looked like going forward.

And that brings us to the offense under Fleck. Obviously the jury is still out but as has been discussed there is a ton of reason to feel like this group could be one of the best in the conference and easily one of the best we have had around here in a long time. So much young talent that got a lot of experience last year, really hard not to be excited about what the future holds for the team in general and the offense specifically.

With of course all the standard disclaimers and other typical Minnesota fan caveats which pretty much guarantee that in some way shape or form it will all go to crap :)
 

GSUsTALON

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I think the best Georgia Southern team was in 1999. I think we ave, about 385 yards rushing, 120 yards passing and about 48 ppg.

I cant find the stats anymore on Bing so if any of you can find the real stats please post where you found them. We did more than that in the 1999 FCS National Championship. That includes winning 4 of 16 games in a true playoff system.
 
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Here is an attempt at a proposal.

For a given season, look at all offensive drives that start before the X yard line, the clock with more than Y time in the half left, and the point differential less than Z. Idea is to exclude drives that start with a short(er) field, and scenarios where the defense is playing prevent or playing second strings, or it's a 2min drill offense, etc. You can set X,Y,Z to the spots you think are reasonable, those are the parameters.

Call them "traditional offensive drives".


You look at how many there were in a season, and you look at how many of those drives scored points. You could also look at the total yards per play, but the main thing is how many of those drives scored points. I don't care if you march up and down the field, you've got to score for it to be meaningful.


That would be interesting to take a look at of the past decade.
 

go4rob

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My favorite was the option, run by Sandy Stephens. My second favorite was the offense under Mason, with Maroney and Barber in the backfield and a TREMENDOUS o-line under Gordy Shaw. My 3rd favorite is the one we are going to see this fall. I have said it many times, that I haven't seen a dominant o-line for the Goph's since the glory days under Glen Mason. Even under Jerry Kill, the o-line wasn't that good, IMHO. This year, however, I think we are in for a treat. I think we will have one of the best o-lines in the BIG, if not the country and the same can be said for our stable of running backs as well as receivers. I always thought that if Mason could have put together a defense to go with that great running game, we would have been in Pasadena about 3 years in a row. If our defense comes to play this year, coupled with all the experience on offense, great things can happen.
 

Schnauzer

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the glory days under Glen Mason
I agree with your sentiments overall, go4rob, but I couldn't resist and quoted you on something I don't think I have ever heard before.

This offense has a chance to finally surpass the Mason offenses of the early/mid 2000's. It is particularly amazing to see that this offense has been put together with BOTH skill and depth. I realize the depth may not be there yet on the O-line but barring injury the unit will be quite good. And some of the other depth is by chance (getting not one but two great running backs to return due to injury), but having not one but two decent quarterbacks and an actual embarrassment of riches at receiver is unchartered waters.
 

PMWinSTP

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Here is an attempt at a proposal.

For a given season, look at all offensive drives that start before the X yard line, the clock with more than Y time in the half left, and the point differential less than Z. Idea is to exclude drives that start with a short(er) field, and scenarios where the defense is playing prevent or playing second strings, or it's a 2min drill offense, etc. You can set X,Y,Z to the spots you think are reasonable, those are the parameters.

Call them "traditional offensive drives".


You look at how many there were in a season, and you look at how many of those drives scored points. You could also look at the total yards per play, but the main thing is how many of those drives scored points. I don't care if you march up and down the field, you've got to score for it to be meaningful.


That would be interesting to take a look at of the past decade.
Or we could just post which offense we liked best.

For me it is Mason in 2003. AAK with a phenomenal season at QB, two 1,000 yard RBs, and two 800 yard WRs. As frustrating as the game not to mention was, that offense was incredible. I also liked Foggie and Thompson combo in 86-87...fun to watch.
 

MNVCGUY

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Or we could just post which offense we liked best.

For me it is Mason in 2003. AAK with a phenomenal season at QB, two 1,000 yard RBs, and two 800 yard WRs. As frustrating as the game not to mention was, that offense was incredible. I also liked Foggie and Thompson combo in 86-87...fun to watch.
I like your plan better.

For me it will be tough to ever top the Maroney/Barber years. That offense was just so much fun to watch the way they would dominate teams with the running game. This group that is coming together has a chance though because there is so much potential there to be explosive in both the run and pass games with the current group of skill guys.
 

rockford

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For me it will be tough to ever top the Maroney/Barber years. That offense was just so much fun to watch the way they would dominate teams with the running game. This group that is coming together has a chance though because there is so much potential there to be explosive in both the run and pass games with the current group of skill guys.
Yep, that's it.

JTG
 

PMWinSTP

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I agree with your sentiments overall, go4rob, but I couldn't resist and quoted you on something I don't think I have ever heard before.

This offense has a chance to finally surpass the Mason offenses of the early/mid 2000's. It is particularly amazing to see that this offense has been put together with BOTH skill and depth. I realize the depth may not be there yet on the O-line but barring injury the unit will be quite good. And some of the other depth is by chance (getting not one but two great running backs to return due to injury), but having not one but two decent quarterbacks and an actual embarrassment of riches at receiver is unchartered waters.
Tall task, would be awesome though. That 2003 team averaged almost 500 yards in tot offense, scored over 500 points, and had three players with 10+ TDs. Really balanced.
 

PMWinSTP

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I like your plan better.

For me it will be tough to ever top the Maroney/Barber years. That offense was just so much fun to watch the way they would dominate teams with the running game. This group that is coming together has a chance though because there is so much potential there to be explosive in both the run and pass games with the current group of skill guys.
Yeah, I think Tulsa was the first Gopher game my boys attended. Heard the Rouser a lot in that first half...
 

imthewalrus

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CThe best part of the 2018 pj offense was the effectiveness of the “...green new deal” wildcat offense that killed the will of defenses... kept key drives going and scored a lot of key touchdowns. It is the one NEW dimension fleckball introduced to the offense last year. Thanks to Mr. Green and the unique set of skills and athleticism he brings to the GOPHERCAT version of the ultimate offensive weapon for all seasons and occasions. That was Fleck’s boldest and most important contribution to the GOPHER Gridder Program during his first two seasons. I have never seen anything like that since the: “...Perkins as designated scoring fullback...” days way back in the yesteryear...

Red Wing’s Mr Perkins scored a lot of touchdowns in that designated role. Coach: Cal Stoll. Teammates in the backfield: Tony Dungy...Kent Kitzmann (fellow Big Nine r.b from Rochester) Kitzmann picked up the yards and Jim Perkins picked up the touchdowns. During the “big two...little eight” era
 
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Halsey Hall

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When you start talking best ever in sports it is silly to get totally hung up on the numbers because there are so many other variables at play.

In very general terms.

The offense under Wacker was fun to watch because they aired it out, the team of course was terrible and they were playing from behind a lot.

The offense under Mason was at times dominant and in general a lot of fun to watch but also extremely frustrating because they would seem to go away at those key moments late in games

The offense under Brewster was a mess because he could never settle on what kind of offense he wanted to have

The offense under Kill was disappointing for the most part. There were some good players but the passing game was a joke most of the time.

The offense under Claeys gets and incomplete because they only had the one year so tough to say what it would have looked like going forward.

And that brings us to the offense under Fleck. Obviously the jury is still out but as has been discussed there is a ton of reason to feel like this group could be one of the best in the conference and easily one of the best we have had around here in a long time. So much young talent that got a lot of experience last year, really hard not to be excited about what the future holds for the team in general and the offense specifically.

With of course all the standard disclaimers and other typical Minnesota fan caveats which pretty much guarantee that in some way shape or form it will all go to crap :)
Totally agree with your assessment. Would like to add that Stoll had some wonderful offenses with players like Dungy and Upchurch.
Everything Warmath did was focused on defense and his offense was very pedestrian. And of course he once punted on 2nd down in order to have the wind at the punter's back (it was at the end of a quarter).
 

WinLoseOrTy

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Going all the way back to 1900, here are each coach's tenure sorted by their average points for percentile rank during each season.

CoachSeasons Avg Percentile Avg Points
Spears58725.6
Hauser36720.3
Mason106729.4
Bierman166719.3
Crisler26517.5
Williams226323.3
Salem45421.4
Claeys15129.3
Warmath184616.7
Holtz24421.0
Wacker54222.1
Spaulding34112.0
Fesler33816.4
Stoll73818.3
Fleck23328.9
Gutekunst63219.5
Brewster42923.4
Kill52623.4

<tbody>
</tbody>

Fleck is bogged down by first season ranking 109th. Last season they improved to 64th.

Kill's scoring offense was consistently lacking, ranking 111, 94, 85, 66 and 104 during his 5 seasons.

Likewise, the Clarence Spears era (1925-29) was consistently great, ranking 15, 1, 13, 13 and 23 in his tenure.

Gophers have finished Top 10 in scoring 16 times since 1900.

1st - 1905 (Williams)
1st - 1926 (Spears)
2nd - 1903 (Williams)
2nd - 1904 (Williams)
2nd - 1916 (Williams)
2nd - 1934 (Bierman)
4th - 1936 (Bierman)
5th - 1902 (Williams)
5th - 1937 (Bierman)
7th - 1900 (Williams)
7th - 1917 (Williams)
7th - 2003 (Mason)
8th - 1909 (Williams)
9th - 1910 (Williams)
10th - 1935 (Bierman)
10th - 2005 (Mason)
 
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rockford

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Gophers have finished Top 10 in scoring 16 times since 1900.

1st - 1905 (Williams)
1st - 1926 (Spears)
2nd - 1903 (Williams)
2nd - 1904 (Williams)
2nd - 1916 (Williams)
2nd - 1934 (Bierman)
4th - 1936 (Bierman)
5th - 1902 (Williams)
5th - 1937 (Bierman)
7th - 1900 (Williams)
7th - 1917 (Williams)
7th - 2003 (Mason)
8th - 1909 (Williams)
9th - 1910 (Williams)
10th - 1935 (Bierman)
10th - 2005 (Mason)
But just twice in the last 80 years. :(

Thanks for the research, Halsey!

JTG
 

Urbandale

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Gophers have finished Top 10 in scoring 16 times since 1900.

1st - 1905 (Williams)
1st - 1926 (Spears)
2nd - 1903 (Williams)
2nd - 1904 (Williams)
2nd - 1916 (Williams)
2nd - 1934 (Bierman)
4th - 1936 (Bierman)
5th - 1902 (Williams)
5th - 1937 (Bierman)
7th - 1900 (Williams)
7th - 1917 (Williams)
7th - 2003 (Mason)
8th - 1909 (Williams)
9th - 1910 (Williams)
10th - 1935 (Bierman)
10th - 2005 (Mason)
Come on, you need to give that 1905 team under Coach Williams more credit for its defense. Our boys only gave up 22 points all year, starting with a 74-0 shutout of Twin Cities Central High.
 

WinLoseOrTy

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Come on, you need to give that 1905 team under Coach Williams more credit for its defense. Our boys only gave up 22 points all year, starting with a 74-0 shutout of Twin Cities Central High.
Actually 1904 squad was even better, shutting out 12 of 13 opponents. Only Nebraska scored 12 points on them. The vaunted Twin Cities Central High lost 107-0 that year, only to be outdone by Gophers' 146-0 beatdown of Grinnell.
 

GophersInIowa

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Actually 1904 squad was even better, shutting out 12 of 13 opponents. Only Nebraska scored 12 points on them. The vaunted Twin Cities Central High lost 107-0 that year, only to be outdone by Gophers' 146-0 beatdown of Grinnell.
Suck it Pioneers!
 

matt

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I remember reading this thread last year and being curious where the 2019 Gopher offense would fit in compared to Gopher offenses over the last 20-40 years. The performance of the offense this year only made me more curious, so I input the 2019 offense to some of the stats from this thread and they are in the following posts. Credit to @rockford and @WinLoseOrTy who did most of the initial research!
 

matt

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Offensive Averages Over the Last 20 Years
2019 -- 253.3 yds passing, 2.4 passing TDS, 178.7 rushing, 1.9 rushing TDs
2018 -- 208.8 yds passing, 1.5 passing TDS, 171.2 rushing, 1.8 rushing TDs
2017 -- 126.1 yds passing, 0.8 passing TDs, 182.4 rushing, 1.7 rushing TDs
2016 -- 173.6 yds passing, 0.7 passing TDs, 183.6 rushing, 2.6 rushing TDs
2015 -- 214.8 yds passing, 1.2 passing TDs, 144.1 rushing, 1.3 rushing TDs
2014 -- 141.8 yds passing, 0.9 passing TDs, 215.5 rushing, 2.5 rushing TDs
2013 -- 148.1 yds passing, 0.9 passing TDs, 195.2 rushing, 1.8 rushing TDs
2012 -- 169.5 yds passing, 1.5 passing TDs, 151.9 rushing, 1.1 rushing TDs
2011 -- 150.3 yds passing, 0.8 passing TDs, 160.0 rushing, 1.2 rushing TDs
2010 -- 226.1 yds passing, 1.8 passing TDs, 135.3 rushing, 1.2 rushing TDs

2009 -- 207.0 yds passing, 1.2 passing TDs, 99.5 rushing, 1.0 rushing TDs
2008 -- 219.1 yds passing, 1.2 passing TDs, 103.8 rushing, 1.5 rushing TDs
2007 -- 245.8 yds passing, 2.1 passing TDs, 161.8 rushing, 1.3 rushing TDs
2006 -- 221.1 yds passing, 1.7 passing TDs, 154.4 rushing, 1.9 rushing TDs
2005 -- 221.7 yds passing, 1.7 passing TDs, 273.1 rushing, 2.8 rushing TDs
2004 -- 181.5 yds passing, 1.4 passing TDs, 256.8 rushing, 2.4 rushing TDs
2003 -- 205.5 yds passing, 1.4 passing TDs, 289.2 rushing, 3.5 rushing TDs
2002 -- 183.4 yds passing, 1.6 passing TDs, 209.8 rushing, 1.7 rushing TDs
2001 -- 204.5 yds passing, 1.7 passing TDs, 217.2 rushing, 1.8 rushing TDs
2000 -- 234.9 yds passing, 1.8 passing TDs, 187.5 rushing, 1.5 rushing TDs
 

matt

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Top 10 Total Offenses Over the Last 20 Years
1. 494.8 yds -- 2005
2. 494.7 yds -- 2003
3. 438.3 yds – 2004
4. 432.0 yds -- 2019
5. 422.3 yds -- 2000
6. 421.7 yds -- 2001
7. 407.6 yds -- 2007
8. 393.2 yds -- 2002
9. 380.0 yds -- 2018
10. 375.5 yds -- 2006
 

matt

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Top 10 Yards Per Play Over the Last 40 Years
1. 6.6 – 2003 (Mason)
2. 6.4 – 2019 (Fleck)
3. 6.4 – 2005 (Mason)
4. 6.3 – 2004 (Mason)
5. 6.0 – 2001 (Mason)
6. 5.9 – 1999 (Mason)
7. 5.8 – 2006 (Mason)
8. 5.8 – 2000 (Mason)
9. 5.7 – 2018 (Fleck)
10. 5.7 – 1985 (Holtz)

*The ties are in the correct order
 

John Galt

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Thanks for posting! I actually think our average would be quite a bit higher if we hadn’t blown out so many B1G teams and played conservatively in the 2nd half. A good problem to have.
 
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