A certain bronze pig is up for grabs this weekend. Is this the year the Gophers regain custody of Floyd of Rosedale?
The Gophers were able to get back to winning ways against Illinois… barely. A pick-6 by linebacker Jonathan Celestin ended up being the difference in the game. The biggest factor, aside from that score, was the run game. After a couple of lackluster weeks, the team rushed for nearly 300 yards. Kobe McCrary led with 153 yards and a touchdown. If Shannon Brooks had to be injured and miss a game, it worked out nicely that it was this one.
Similarly, the absence of both Antonio Shenault and Antoine Winfield, Jr. had the potential to cause problems on defense. Instead, their backups performed admirably. I don’t even want to start singling out guys on the defense who had a great game, because a lot of them did.
The Battle For Floyd of Rosedale
Iowa’s offense, a year after losing quarterback C.J. Beathard to the NFL, is ranked 103rd nationally. However, their individual stats are better than you’d expect. Quarterback Nathan Stanley has thrown 16 touchdowns and just three interceptions this season. The Hawkeyes spread the ball around quite a bit. Seven games in, they have six receivers with at least 100 yards. (One of them, Akrum Wadley, is also the team’s leading rusher with 573 yards and seven total touchdowns). The Minnesota secondary will have their work cut out for them. Obviously, having Shenault and/or Winfield healthy would help. The good news is that both are listed on this week’s depth chart as starters. The bad news? According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, both have been listed as starters for every game they’ve missed.
There’s bad news for the Gopher offense as well- Iowa linebacker Josey Jewell is likely to play after missing last week’s game at Northwestern. Jewell is one of the best linebackers in the Big Ten and arguably in the country. Everyone on offense will need to be aware of him at all times. With Iowa being strong against the run, Minnesota will probably have to throw the ball a bit more than they’d like to. Therefore, whoever is at quarterback for the Gophers (my guess is that it will be Demry Croft), needs to up his game this week.
Three Keys for the Gophers
To have a chance in this game, there are three things Minnesota absolutely must do:
- Turnover Margin They cannot turn the ball over, and it would help tremendously if the defense could get the offense a couple of extra possessions.
- Continue to be Disciplined Minnesota is currently tied for third in the country in fewest penalties. (If you had told me a year ago that that would be the case, I would have laughed at you. Hard.) This is the kind of game where an ill-timed penalty could make a huge difference.
- Special Teams All the units need to bring their “A” games this week, but this is a game where the special teams need to contribute. A return touchdown, or even just a big return yardage-wise, could give the Gophers a mental and physical boost in a game where they need every boost they can get. Emmit Carpenter may need to make some long field goals. He has the leg; a year ago, he made multiple field goals from beyond 50. However, he’s already had four misses this season, compared to two all of last year.
The Gophers are in tough if they want to bring Floyd of Rosedale back to campus with them. It’s not impossible, but they have to eliminate major mistakes and probably have a little bit of luck on their side as well.