Nov. 19, 2022: Minnesota cannot seem to get out of its own way, dropping its 8th straight game to Iowa and P.J. Fleck seems to have a serious monkey still on its back.
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- First-Quarter: After Minnesota opened the game with a punt, Iowa responded with a 57-yard screen pass on its first offensive play of the game, setting up a field goal, giving the Hawkeyes a 3-0 lead, six minutes into the game. The Gophers’ offense continued to struggle, after wasting a pair of timeouts for virtually no reason, Iowa’s offense continued to hum, scoring the first TD of the game, resulting in a 10-0 lead.
- Second-Quarter: Kirk Ciarrocca and the Gophers’ offense finally opened the door for Athan Kaliakmanis, and good things happened. Minnesota drove right down the field for its first points of the game thanks to an Ibrahim TD, cutting the lead to 10-7. It looked like the Gophers were gonna cut into the deficit even more, but after a Matthew Trickett missed FG and Iowa burning down the clock, it remained 10-7 heading into the break.
- Third-Quarter: After forcing a much-needed Iowa punt, the Gophers tied the game up at 10, thanks to a 54-yard run from Ibrahim and a field goal from Trickett. They exchanged punts to close out the quarter, taking the 10-10 ball game into the final quarter of play.
- Fourth-Quarter: Minnesota had chance after chance to win this game in the 4th QTR. A costly fumble from Ibrahim and an INT from Kaliakmanis gifted a victory to Iowa and the Hawkeyes won 13-10.
Instant Reaction & Takeaways:
P.J. Fleck has a serious timeout issue plain and simple. If you’re consistently calling timeouts to substitute personnel and give yourself more time to think, that raises a much bigger issue. Good football teams simply do not do that. Football teams adopt the personality of their head coach and Gophers began to play conservatively. If this team wants to reach its full potential, it will start by continuing to open the playbook for Athan Kaliakmanis. Everything becomes easier for the rest of the offense when he begins to make plays. Especially tonight, when he began to roll, holes opened up for Mohamed Ibrahim and Minnesota was able to do what it wanted to do on the offensive side of the ball.
With all that being said, P.J. Fleck lost this game. I don’t care what anyone says. His conservative playcalling, inept use of timeouts, and questionable decision-making cost the Gophers. Nobody else, not the defense, not Athan Kaliakmanis, not the offensive line. I truly believe this loss is 100% on Fleck’s shoulders. Mo got the most rushing yards against Iowa this century, Kaliakmanis made plays, and the defense let up <100 yards in the second half. P.J. Fleck needs to change his game plan against Iowa, if he ever wants to beat Kirk Ferentz, whatever he has done is clearly not working.
What is next?:
Minnesota will now travel to Camp Randall for its second rivalry game of the season with the Wisconsin Badgers. The Big Ten west is officially off the table. And an 8-4 season is now the best-case scenario for the Maroon & Gold.
Preseason, I said that Iowa was the biggest game on the Gophers’ schedule. This was going to determine the outcome of the season and it has. This season is a major disappointment and this game was a major disappointment. No excuses.