The Minnesota Golden Gophers football team has had one crazy bye week. Head coach Jerry Kill made the decision to take a leave of absence from the team for at least a couple of weeks to focus on his health, leaving the team in the hands of defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys.
Kill has had five seizures throughout his tenure as the head coach and Claeys has acted as the head coach before. The last time was two weeks ago at Michigan.
The Gophers will have to put together a solid game plan to cope with the Northwestern Wildcats run-and-gun style offense lead by quarterback Kain Colter. Colter comes into the game completing 82 percent of his passes on the season. He also has wheels. The Gophers must focus on containing him if they want to win. This quarterback is fun to watch and he can make effective passing plays on the run.
The Wisconsin Badgers were able to stifle Northwestern last week 35-6. They kept the Wildcats’ offense in tact. In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Northwestern Wildcats head coach, Pat Fitzgerald said “I hope it gives our guys a punch right in the face,” he said. “Wakes ’em up. It’s hard to win Big Ten football games.”
You know that the Wildcats will be ready to play this week and if the Gophers want a chance to win they will have to tighten up on defense.
A passing game has not been evident this entire season, and the Gophers are hoping to rack up some more yards through the air. The coaching staff hopes that Mitch Leidner can change this. Leidner also is mobile, but the Gophers haven’t seen him light it up through the air yet this season.
A well-balanced attack on the ground and through the air will be critical against Northwestern. The Wildcats typically put up a lot of points, but last week was the first game their offense was shut down.
The Gophers are facing a high amount of adversity currently with Kill’s recent struggles. Beating Northwestern on the road is possible, but the players must trust Claeys, his style of coaching, and his game plan and leave it all out on the field for the ailing Kill.