Sid: Gophers persevere

BleedGopher

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per Sid:

Gophers persevere

Gophers football coach P.J. Fleck credits his team for its perseverance in 2018.

“There were a lot of highs, there were a lot of lows,” Fleck said. “Their perseverance is second to none.”

After opening the season with three nonconference victories — including one over eventual Mountain West champion Fresno State — the Gophers lost four consecutive games. After a victory over Indiana improved their record to 4-4, the Gophers lost at Illinois 55-31 on Nov. 3.

In that game, the Illini had 646 yards in offense and rushed for 430 yards. The next day, defensive coordinator Robb Smith was fired.

At that point, the Gophers needed two victories in their final three games to become bowl-eligible. Those games — Purdue, Northwestern and Wisconsin — were against teams that all reached bowl games this season.

“Wasn’t looking very good,” Fleck said. “We had a lot of guys out. A lot of guys injured. Youngest team in America. Just got beat by Illinois. And all of a sudden, our team found a way to win.”

In their first game under interim defensive coordinator Joe Rossi, the Gophers beat Purdue 41-10. After a 24-14 loss at Big Ten West champion Northwestern, the Gophers went to Wisconsin, where they hadn’t won in 24 years. The Gophers won 37-15 — ending their 14-game losing streak to the Badgers — to become bowl eligible.

“Robb Smith is a tremendous football coach,” Fleck said. “I think Joe Rossi has done a great job of being able to take it to the next step. Joe Rossi had a tremendous challenge, because he had so many young guys going through the year, the last four games, that were playing, pretty much for the first time.”

Fleck said that Rossi, who started the season as Gophers defensive line coach, faced a different challenge from Georgia Tech, the team’s opponent in the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit on Dec. 26.

“Going in to play Georgia Tech, which runs the triple option, [he had] to change our whole defense. Install a whole new defense and I thought our players responded really well to his coaching,” Fleck said.

The Gophers defeated the Yellow Jackets 34-10. Besides a strong defensive effort, a key to the victory was running back Mohamed Ibrahim.

“Mohamed Ibrahim ran for 224 yards,” Fleck said, “which, I think, is the most by a Minnesota freshman ever. It just shows the depth we’re creating.”

The Gophers started eight freshmen on offense. “There was a lot of times at the beginning of the year when our inexperience and our youth really hurt us,” Fleck said.

http://www.startribune.com/reasons-were-plentiful-for-2018-vikings-struggles/503876272/

Go Gophers!!
 

Gophers7NatTitlesBadgers0

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It was great to see the team end the season so strong. In past years, they would be fortunate to win even one of the games against bowl teams down the stretch.
 

Spoofin

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It was great to see the team end the season so strong. In past years, they would be fortunate to win even one of the games against bowl teams down the stretch.
Agreed. The strong finish was quite unique for this team.


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Sparlimb

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It was great to see the team end the season so strong. In past years, they would be fortunate to win even one of the games against bowl teams down the stretch.
It did remind me a little of the Mason years. As much good as he did, and he was our best coach in a long time, his teams often started strong 5-1 or 6-0 and then always seemed to fold in the money games. Always. It was nice to see a team that was able to find themselves as the year went on. Probably a part of being so young...
 

A_Slab_of_Bacon

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This team showed a lot of Grit and both offense and defense closed games. That was something we haven't seen in a long time.
 

Schnauzer

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Youngest team in America? Who knew? That should be communicated.
 

Spoofin

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Youngest team in America? Who knew? That should be communicated.
I have a hunch the same line will be stated next year too.


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caliGopher

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I have a hunch the same line will be stated next year too.


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Not that hard to load up your team with young walk-ons so you can have those heart warming videos of giving out scholies to kids that PJ is so fond of making (and hope you don't have to use said players in games due to injuries that expose those players as not quite a contributor as happened this year), and talk about how young your team is incessantly to cover up for the fact that you hired a DC that was horrible, or have poor clock management skills, or......

I also learned that "and all of the sudden" apparently is a euphemism for firing an incompetent DC.
 

GringaGopher

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The strong finish was impressive and I think it was clear that the team continued to play hard for each other and the coaches.
 
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