We may never be in this position again

EG#9

Well-known member
The Gophers might win the West someday, but they likely will never again have a 2 game lead with 3 games to play. They likely will never be 9-0 with only a home game against Wisconsin looming as a potential roadblock to a perfect season. The Gophers were overwhelming favorites to win the West and head to Pasadena 3 weeks ago. Since that time they've lost to both rivals (when do we stop calling either of these games "rivalry" games? when was the last time the Gophers had the Axe and the Pig? how frequently have they had neither over the last 3 decades?) and in doing so lost the perfect season, the Rose Bowl, and the B1G West.

I was pretty shocked by the "it's ok" reaction some had to losing to Iowa a couple of weeks ago as if this exact nightmare end to the season didn't become very real with the poor performance in Iowa City.

Two things bother me most about the last 3 weeks:

1. A feeling that we weren't aggressive enough: Against Iowa, we had the early decision to try a long field goal instead of trying to convert a 4th and medium, then a decision to punt from a similar place on the field, and finally a decision to kick the field goal before half with 4 seconds to go instead of try for the touchdown. You can argue the merits of all of these decisions, but they certainly were not the aggressive approach. Against Wisconsin, we had the timeout followed by running the generic Seth Green play on 3rd and 2 and then the decision to punt on 4th and 2, then down 10 in the 3rd quarter we had the decision to run the ball on 3rd and 10 from the 22 yard line, finally we had the run play to end the 3rd quarter on 1st and goal from the 6 followed by another basic running play on 2nd and goal from the 4 to open the 4th. Again, any one of these plays can be defended in a vacuum, but we didn't go for it. To think that that we had all these short yardage plays in two critical games and NEVER brought the pass out of the Wildcat out of mothballs is especially disappointing. It felt like we were saving some plays all year for these critical situations...and then we never used them.

2. Dominated in the trenches: The Gophers offensive line really started struggling to end the Penn State game which played a big role in the near collapse (along with some conservative playcalling like above). Against Iowa and Wisconsin, we couldn't establish any sort of running game which put the rest of the offense in a bind. On defense, their Olines got the better of our Dlines which allowed them to be less predictable. Our defense for the better part of the year was try to get to 3rd down and then take a chance with a blitz to get off the field. We couldn't stop 3rd or 4th and short when it mattered on defense and we often didn't even try to convert on offense. This team got (mostly) great WR and QB play as well as good to great secondary play all year. It wasn't enough to overcome the deficiencies on the line in two of the three big games down the stretch. I tend to lean to this being more about size/strength/talent than effort, but that is almost more concerning when you try to project future contention for the Gophers.

It's great that the offensive line is coming back intact, but is there enough talent there to really make a jump? On the defensive line, we lose arguably our best pass rusher (Coughlin) and most consistent interior player (Renner). With tackling also being an issue, it's concerning to likely be losing Winfield in addition to Martin who were our best back 7 players when it came to actually getting a ball carrier on the ground.

This year was a great step forward for the program under PJ Fleck, but it also was a huge missed opportunity. We will either look back at this year as the turning point for the program or look back at these last 2 rivalry games regretfully for a long, long time.
 

Stan

Well-known member
Very pragmatic post. I agree with all of it. Awesome season, and huge missed opportunity at the same time. Everything was set up for us and we couldn’t finish the job. I love Fleck, I hope this wasn’t the pinnacle. I don’t think it was, but we may also never have the table set like it was for us.
 

DarrenTheGreek

Gov. Victory Bell Ringer
At Gettysburg there is a marker on Cemetery Ridge that refers to the "High Water Mark" of the Confederacy. It is believed to be the closest the South got to winning the war.

In the 4Q today I couldn't help but think that our 3rd and 2 at the 35 was the Gophers equivalent of "High Water" mark in the post 1967 era of college football.
 

DC Gopher

Member
The other aspect you are missing is we may never be setup with a schedule like this again. We got PSU at home but no OSU, Michigan or Michigan State. Won’t be true every year or maybe for decades again. We had a schedule to make it happen.
 

mjfelton15

Active member
I’d like us to get to a point where we aren’t just deceptively good. where we get a weak schedule, with 2 bad crossover teams, a mostly struggling West division, and ending up with home field advantage for the toughest games. I’d like us to just get good. Period. Would I have loved to see us go 11-1? Make the championship? Rose Bowl at minimum? Yeah, of course I would. I’d like us to do it with us just being a kick ass team, not just getting it because of the softest schedule we’ve had in a long long time.

I think based on what we actually have right now, we’ll end up ranked where we deserve. I think we’ll get the bowl we deserve. I think we’re currently a team that can contend in big games. we can cause upsets. we are a top 25 team. But we’re not a top 10, CFP contender overall. not yet. I think that’s okay. I have high hopes, I was ready to buy tickets to Pasadena. But 10-2 in Fleck’s 3rd year is really solid. We could be sitting with Brohm or Frost, that would be utterly depressing.
 

WriterGoph

Well-known member
I’d like us to get to a point where we aren’t just deceptively good. where we get a weak schedule, with 2 bad crossover teams, a mostly struggling West division, and ending up with home field advantage for the toughest games. I’d like us to just get good. Period. Would I have loved to see us go 11-1? Make the championship? Rose Bowl at minimum? Yeah, of course I would. I’d like us to do it with us just being a kick ass team, not just getting it because of the softest schedule we’ve had in a long long time.

I think based on what we actually have right now, we’ll end up ranked where we deserve. I think we’ll get the bowl we deserve. I think we’re currently a team that can contend in big games. we can cause upsets. we are a top 25 team. But we’re not a top 10, CFP contender overall. not yet. I think that’s okay. I have high hopes, I was ready to buy tickets to Pasadena. But 10-2 in Fleck’s 3rd year is really solid. We could be sitting with Brohm or Frost, that would be utterly depressing.
Mostly struggling West???? Iowa and Wisconsin were both Top 15 and Illinois had its best year in ages. Tell me more how bad the West is with 3 Top 15 teams.
 

mjfelton15

Active member
Mostly struggling West???? Iowa and Wisconsin were both Top 15 and Illinois had its best year in ages. Tell me more how bad the West is with 3 Top 15 teams.
Nebraska, Purdue, and Northwestern were all bad, especially when we played them. We beat Illinois 40-17 when we played them. They improved after us. But when we encountered all 4 teams, they were not good. Not sure what you consider struggling. But all 4 weren’t too hopeful for bowl games when we were played them. So there are 4 wins we got fairly easily. We don’t play ourselves. So on our side, we had 2 top-15 teams, and 4 sub-par/struggling teams.
 

WriterGoph

Well-known member
Nebraska, Purdue, and Northwestern were all bad, especially when we played them. We beat Illinois 40-17 when we played them. They improved after us. But when we encountered all 4 teams, they were not good. Not sure what you consider struggling. But all 4 weren’t too hopeful for bowl games when we were played them. So there are 4 wins we got fairly easily. We don’t play ourselves. So on our side, we had 2 top-15 teams, and 4 sub-par/struggling teams.
Hey pal, pretty sure the East was exactly the same. 3 Top 15 teams and an Indiana that equaled Illinois. Your point is wack. Purdue and Northwestern were far better than Maryland and Rutgers too
 

scools12

Well-known member
Nebraska, Purdue, and Northwestern were all bad, especially when we played them. We beat Illinois 40-17 when we played them. They improved after us. But when we encountered all 4 teams, they were not good. Not sure what you consider struggling. But all 4 weren’t too hopeful for bowl games when we were played them. So there are 4 wins we got fairly easily. We don’t play ourselves. So on our side, we had 2 top-15 teams, and 4 sub-par/struggling teams.
This is called shifting the goal post.
 

mjfelton15

Active member
Hey pal, pretty sure the East was exactly the same. 3 Top 15 teams and an Indiana that equaled Illinois. Your point is wack. Purdue and Northwestern were far better than Maryland and Rutgers too
Everyone is arguing we won’t get this kind of luck with the schedule being so easy again....I’m arguing that I’d rather be good without a padded schedule. I don’t want us to only shine when compared to mediocrity. Wondering where I’m wrong here. Did you watch Illinois, Purdue, and Northwestern play us? The steps between those three teams, Maryland, and Rutgers aren’t much. They were all games we were never in danger of losing. There’s a clear divide between tiers in the Big Ten as a whole. OSU, Penn State, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan, and then there’s everyone else.
 

Nax5

Member
It was a fun season...But to your point, it will be a nightmare if we drop games early next season. As that may signify we missed our chance. I'll continue to hope that we haven't reached our peak yet...
 

Pompous Elitist

Well-known member
The team had some significant spots of weakness in the defense, offensive line, and of course special teams that were compensated for by a really good QB and WRs. This was a really good but not truly great team and I think if we’re honest that was evident all year. The goal now has to be get back in the saddle and finish strong against a good bowl game opponent.

The reality is it’s human nature to react with a what have you done for me lately outlook. Each win or loss makes us think we’re better or worse than we really are. If we started off the year dropping a couple games and finished (instead of started) on a hot streak everyone would be stoked for 2020.

The backloaded schedule was tough particularly the chance of late season adverse weather seemingly affecting the receivers today. OTOH it was fun to see the hype build up all season as the win streak mounted and I don’t think anyone will soon forget it despite the gut punch November.
 

howeda7

Well-known member
At Gettysburg there is a marker on Cemetery Ridge that refers to the "High Water Mark" of the Confederacy. It is believed to be the closest the South got to winning the war.

In the 4Q today I couldn't help but think that our 3rd and 2 at the 35 was the Gophers equivalent of "High Water" mark in the post 1967 era of college football.
Sadly, you don't know it was the high water mark until after the fact. For Mason it was Michigan 2003. Brewster, Northwestern 2008. For Dan Monson, Illinois 2002. For Tubby Smith, the preseason scrimmage in 2009. They're not always obvious. This could be Fleck's. If so, it will be higher than most, but still tragic. Hopefully it's not.
 

matt

Let's get weird
Why the hell are people talking about highwater marks and acting as if their dog just got run over? The program is in its 3rd year under Coach Fleck, and the Minnesota Gophers were one of just 9 teams that had a chance to make the CFP going into the final week of the regular season. Again, they were one of the last 9 teams in his 3rd year, and the future is looking great. The strongest part of this team is our top 15 offense which is fairly young. Recruiting has been trending up, AD and BOR support is stronger than it has been in decades, we got Gameday for the first time ever, and our coach who many programs want to poach just signed an extension that keeps him here for at least two more years.

Was today disappointing? Yes, undeniably so. But quit sulking, keep rowing the boat, and appreciate the unexpected, wild ride that just happened. Then when you're done get back in line because we will be riding that ride again over the next few years.
 

btowngopher

Well-known member
Do we not think it is possible to have Wisconsin or Iowa like success here? Is it only possible to have success here for single one off seasons when the stars all align?
 

goldengophers

Active member
Do we not think it is possible to have Wisconsin or Iowa like success here? Is it only possible to have success here for single one off seasons when the stars all align?
It all comes down to the ability to recruit high end line talent on both sides of the ball. In no way can we judge this one season as a barometer of getting to the Wisc or Iowa level.
 

kellyleeks

GH Hall of Fame '10
Why the hell are people talking about highwater marks and acting as if their dog just got run over? The program is in its 3rd year under Coach Fleck, and the Minnesota Gophers were one of just 9 teams that had a chance to make the CFP going into the final week of the regular season. Again, they were one of the last 9 teams in his 3rd year, and the future is looking great. The strongest part of this team is our top 15 offense which is fairly young. Recruiting has been trending up, AD and BOR support is stronger than it has been in decades, we got Gameday for the first time ever, and our coach who many programs want to poach just signed an extension that keeps him here for at least two more years.

Was today disappointing? Yes, undeniably so. But quit sulking, keep rowing the boat, and appreciate the unexpected, wild ride that just happened. Then when you're done get back in line because we will be riding that ride again over the next few years.
Thank you
 
The Gophers might win the West someday, but they likely will never again have a 2 game lead with 3 games to play. They likely will never be 9-0 with only a home game against Wisconsin looming as a potential roadblock to a perfect season. The Gophers were overwhelming favorites to win the West and head to Pasadena 3 weeks ago. Since that time they've lost to both rivals (when do we stop calling either of these games "rivalry" games? when was the last time the Gophers had the Axe and the Pig? how frequently have they had neither over the last 3 decades?) and in doing so lost the perfect season, the Rose Bowl, and the B1G West.

I was pretty shocked by the "it's ok" reaction some had to losing to Iowa a couple of weeks ago as if this exact nightmare end to the season didn't become very real with the poor performance in Iowa City.

Two things bother me most about the last 3 weeks:

1. A feeling that we weren't aggressive enough: Against Iowa, we had the early decision to try a long field goal instead of trying to convert a 4th and medium, then a decision to punt from a similar place on the field, and finally a decision to kick the field goal before half with 4 seconds to go instead of try for the touchdown. You can argue the merits of all of these decisions, but they certainly were not the aggressive approach. Against Wisconsin, we had the timeout followed by running the generic Seth Green play on 3rd and 2 and then the decision to punt on 4th and 2, then down 10 in the 3rd quarter we had the decision to run the ball on 3rd and 10 from the 22 yard line, finally we had the run play to end the 3rd quarter on 1st and goal from the 6 followed by another basic running play on 2nd and goal from the 4 to open the 4th. Again, any one of these plays can be defended in a vacuum, but we didn't go for it. To think that that we had all these short yardage plays in two critical games and NEVER brought the pass out of the Wildcat out of mothballs is especially disappointing. It felt like we were saving some plays all year for these critical situations...and then we never used them.

2. Dominated in the trenches: The Gophers offensive line really started struggling to end the Penn State game which played a big role in the near collapse (along with some conservative playcalling like above). Against Iowa and Wisconsin, we couldn't establish any sort of running game which put the rest of the offense in a bind. On defense, their Olines got the better of our Dlines which allowed them to be less predictable. Our defense for the better part of the year was try to get to 3rd down and then take a chance with a blitz to get off the field. We couldn't stop 3rd or 4th and short when it mattered on defense and we often didn't even try to convert on offense. This team got (mostly) great WR and QB play as well as good to great secondary play all year. It wasn't enough to overcome the deficiencies on the line in two of the three big games down the stretch. I tend to lean to this being more about size/strength/talent than effort, but that is almost more concerning when you try to project future contention for the Gophers.

It's great that the offensive line is coming back intact, but is there enough talent there to really make a jump? On the defensive line, we lose arguably our best pass rusher (Coughlin) and most consistent interior player (Renner). With tackling also being an issue, it's concerning to likely be losing Winfield in addition to Martin who were our best back 7 players when it came to actually getting a ball carrier on the ground.

This year was a great step forward for the program under PJ Fleck, but it also was a huge missed opportunity. We will either look back at this year as the turning point for the program or look back at these last 2 rivalry games regretfully for a long, long time.
your number one problem is that we took sure fire points at the end of the half and didn’t go for it on 4 and 8 at mid-field? it’s fine to be upset that we lost but don’t misconstrue it
 

Spoofin

Well-known member
Mostly struggling West???? Iowa and Wisconsin were both Top 15 and Illinois had its best year in ages. Tell me more how bad the West is with 3 Top 15 teams.
Well, we lost to two of the three teams you said weren’t struggling - so that may say something too.
 
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