Sept. 11, 2021: In their first non-conference game of 2021, the Golden Gophers survived, defeating Miami (OH) 31-26 moving to 1-1 on the young season.
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Full Game Recap:
- Pregame/injuries: Reinforcements were on the way for the Gophers, as DB Jordan Howden and WR Chris Autman-Bell both participated in pregame warmups, looking healthy and ready to go for game time. But neither player played a significant role, and Howden was the only one dressed in full pads, as Minnesota decided to take the precautious approach.
- First-Quarter: Miami (OH) opted to deploy 2019 MAC offensive freshman of the year, Brett Gabbert, under center for only his second start since his freshman campaign. The Gophers were unfazed by the decision, as redshirt-senior defensive back Justus Harris recovered a fumble on the first drive of the game. Trey Potts came ready to lead the RB room, leading the Gophers down the field with six carries for 31 yards en-route to scoring the first TD of the game to put Minnesota up 7-0.
- Second-Quarter: Gabbert began to settle in, leading the Redhawks down the field on a 10 play 50-yard field goal drive, narrowing the Gophers’ lead to 7-3. Dylan Wright continues to shine; on the Gophers’ second scoring drive, the Texas A&M transfer caught two balls 56 yards and a beautiful 25 yards TD extending Minnesota’s lead to 14-3. Daniel Jackson joined the party on the following offensive drive with a 6 yard TD widening the Gophers’ lead to 21-3.
- Third-Quarter: After coming out of the locker room very sluggish, the Gophers allowed Miami (OH) to drive down the field and a one-yard TD from backup QB AJ Mayer shortened the Minnesota lead to 21-10. The maroon & gold’s uninspiring start to the second half continued, allowing Miami to drive down the field following a three and out of their own. Fortunately, they forced a field goal, narrowing the Gophers’ lead to 21-13. Overall, I don’t think the Gophers could’ve had any worse of a quarter, out-gained 128-15.
- Fourth-Quarter: The Gophers horrendous second half bled into the fourth quarter. Gabbert drove the Redhawks all over Minnesota’s defense capped by a 23-yard touchdown pass to Jack Sorrenson. Trey Potts woke up the Gophers on the following drive, with two long runs finished by a 21-yard touchdown drive, growing the Minnesota lead to 28-20. The momentum continued to switch, as Tyler Nubin picked off Gabbert setting up a 50 yard Matthew Trickett field goal, widening the gap to 31-20. Miami answered with a touchdown of its own but failed to add the two-point conversion making it 31-26 with three minutes to go. The Gophers would ultimately hold for their first victory of the season.
Instant Reaction & Takeaways:
Well, a win is a win. This result reminds me a lot of the start to 2019 season, where Minnesota won each of its first three games, by one score, two of which came against a group of five teams and one against an FBS team. Plain and simple, that second half was brutal to watch, it shouldn’t even matter what happened in the first half. Miami completely outplayed the Gophers for the final 30 minutes of that contest. At first thought, the second-half play-calling must be more aggressive going forward. Allowing your redshirt-senior QB to pass the ball six times in the second half is unacceptable. The play-calling as a whole was tough to watch at times, with very little creativity and flow. Even without Ibrahim, Autman-Bell and Dyland Wright for much of the second half, it needs to be better.
Trey Potts clearly looked more than capable of handling the No. 1 RB role, but it seemed a bit unnecessary to give him 34 of the team’s 44 carries in his first career start. Even if you would like him to be the No. 1 option, don’t you want to at least see what else you have? Both the offensive and defensive lines played very inconsistently and far less dominant than you would like to see against a MAC team. As for the defense, there are miles to go, if they would like to compete for a Big Ten title. Miami (OH) is a much better team when Brett Gabbert starts, but that performance was simply embarrassing to see.
What is Next?:
The Gophers now move to 1-1 season, with a road matchup with the Colorado Buffaloes less than a week away. Colorado is likely playing No. 5 Texas A&M as you’re reading this or it has just lost. The Aggies were a (-17) point favorite in Boulder, Colo. and I imagine that it will end up worse than that. Preseason, Colorado was voted to finish fifth out of six teams in the west division, so the Gophers will be far from playing the elite of the Pac 12. As a whole, the Buffs return 12 total starters, six on defense and six on offense led by redshirt-junior running back Jarek Broussard who led the team averaging 160 yards from scrimmage in each of the team’s six contests until being named co-Pac 12 offensive player of the year.
Starting redshirt-freshman QB Brendon Lewis, Colorado has far from an elite offense. The P5 non-conference matchup should still be a great measuring stick for the Gophers before they return home the following week to host a very poor Bowling Green team, which has not won a game in nearly two years. Starting the season 3-1 before Big 10 play officially begins was a very realistic expectation before the season, and a win against Colorado next week would obviously be a great step in that direction.