Musings on the Minnesota Golden Gophers
With interim coach Jeff Horton at the helm, the Minnesota Gophers stand at 1-8. The schedule includes a stretch of eight consecutive losses to teams like South Dakota, Northern Illinois, and Purdue. The teamâ€™s only victory is over Middle Tennessee by a narrow margin of seven points. All but one of the teamâ€™s five losses in the Big Ten have been by ten or more points. Although the Spartans have lost in three consecutive games to Minnesota, Michigan State obviously has the advantage in nearly every offensive, defensive, and special teams category. As long as the Spartans do not have a collapse of colossal proportions, the team should dominate the Gophers.
- Senior quarterback Adam Weber is the heart of the Gopher offense. Weber has had to throw the ball a lot this season since Minnesota has been constantly playing from behind. However, Weberâ€™s stats are still impressive: 157 of 285 passes, 17 touchdowns, and eight interceptions. He has comparable stats to Cousins as far as yards, touchdowns, and interceptions. Nevertheless, many of these yards came in â€œgarbageâ€ time in which opposing teams had their second team defense in.
- Only one year ago, Weber had an outstanding game versus the Spartans, 416 passing yards and five touchdowns. His performance helped the Gophers to defeat the Spartans, 42-34. MSU will be eager to revenge that victory Saturday against Minnesota.
- The Gopher ground attack is led by backs DeLeon Eskridge and Duane Bennett. Neither back is dominant- Eskridge has 523 yards (3.7 yards per carry average) and three touchdowns while Bennett has 444 yards (4.3 ypc) and two touchdowns.Â Minnesota is a pass-first team, especially with the experienced Weber leading the offense.
- The Minnesota offense scores an average of 22 points per game. Its opponentsâ€™ average? Thirty-four points, which is 105th in the FBS. Obviously, the Gopher defense is not too hard to score on. Even if the exhausted Spartan secondary has trouble stopping Weber and the passing attack, Cousins and Co, should have no trouble taking care of business on offense.
- The depleted defense of the Gophers allows 417 yards a game on defense, 217 of those through the air. In addition, three defensive players for Minnesota will be sitting out the game versus Michigan State. Team Captain and defensive tackle Brandon Kinsey, defensive back Michael Carter, and lineman Raâ€™Shede Hageman will all be watching from the sidelines.
With the Gopher defense in the shape that it is, the Spartans will have no trouble scoring on offense. Hopefully, Bell, Baker, and Caper will be able to have a defining game that increases their confidence going into the bye week. Cousins also could use a great game so that he can return to form in the last two games against Purdue and Penn State. Finally, the defense needs to send a message by shutting down Adam Weber. This game versus the Gophers is all about releasing frustration welled up after the loss to Iowa while gaining confidence heading into the bye week and the last two games of the season. The Spartans need to win this game, and win big.