The Gophers’ offense has been pathetic as of late. Failing to score for nine consecutive quarters is unacceptable no matter what team you are playing.
Minnesota was only able to muster a field goal in its 14-3 loss to Michigan State on Saturday. The opportunities were there, but the team just could not get the ball into the end zone. The problem here is not with the play calling, it comes from the lack of experience at the quarterback position.
This post is not meant to be a knock on Philip Nelson and Mitch Leidner, but red zone execution has been a legitimate problem for them as of late. Each quarterback was able to lead effective drives versus Wisconsin and Michigan State, two of the best defenses in the country, until they reached the 20-yard line. Once in close to the opponent’s goal, they could not manage a single offensive touchdown. The Gophers played like they were pressing.
Inexperience, especially when playing top defenses, is to blame for the struggles. Wisconsin and Michigan State know how to make adjustments on the defensive side of the ball, and that threw the Gophers off.
I truly believe that next season, whoever starts as quarterback will come in more prepared, make their own adjustments, and make the throws on target and be able to lead effective scoring drives.
This was a frustrating end to a good season for the Gophers, but if the offense was even semi there in the redzone, Minnesota could have knocked off both Wisconsin and Michigan State and found its way into a possible BCS Bowl. Instead, the Gophers will likely be playing in the Texas Bowl according to CBS BCS Expert Jerry Palm.
It’s not all negative because the Gophers beat expectations this season, and playing in a lesser bowl will give the quarterbacks a chance to compete, gain valuable experience, and make them hungry for something bigger next season.
This season was supposed to be all about gaining experience. The defense kept the Gophers in each of its last two games against powerhouse teams, but the offense simply could not provide the pop needed to win. We also learned that when the Gophers figure their offense out, they’ll be a force to be reckoned with next season. I know Jerry Kill is taking notes, drawing up new plays, and motivating his young guys, because he’s that sort of coach.
Hopefully next season the Gophers will put it all together and end up becoming a new powerhouse in the Big 10.
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