The Minnesota Golden Gopher football team suffered its second embarrassing loss of the season Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium.
The North Dakota State Bison roster is loaded with players that did not receive scholarship offers from the Gophers or many other, if any, Division I offers.
Yet, the Gophers found a way to lose another game (third time in five) to a team from either North or South Dakota.
Control the line of scrimmage. This is where the game was lost. The Gophers defense allowed the Bison offense to average nearly six yards, 5.86 to be more accurate, on 22 first down plays. The Bison had second-and-more than five just nine times. The Bison had seven offensive drives and scored on four of them. The other three drives ended with one three-and-out (the first play of that drive was no gain), a missed field goal and the end of the game. The difference between a win and a loss against a team that runs the ball as often and as well as the Bison does is the first play of a drive. Grade: D-.
Win the turnover battle. The Gophers finished the game with a turnover differential of minus-two. Both Gopher quarterbacks threw an interception for both the game’s only two turnovers. Both interceptions were returned for touchdowns, which totaled 13 points for the Bison. The final score was 37-24, a difference of 13 points. Turnovers always make a difference in the outcome of the game. Grade: F.
What to watch this week
Quarterback controversy part II. Junior Marqueis Gray struggled and has completed just over 50 percent of his passes. True freshman Max Shortell came in and played okay. The Gopher coaching staff continues to say that Gray is the man. However, offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover backed off the commitment saying, “(questions about Gray as the starter) will continue on until we feel like (Shortell) gets to a point where he does a significant number of things better than (Gray).” The Gophers offense may be better with Shortell under center and Gray permanently moved to wide receiver. Of course, it couldn’t be much worse. It is 87th in the nation and 10th in the Big Ten Conference in total yards with 353 yards.
Jerry Kill is back in the hospital. Sunday afternoon, the Gophers announced that Kill was checking into the Mayo Clinic to further treat his seizures. The coaches, led by Limegrover and defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys, are preparing the team to face an undefeated Michigan Wolverine team in the Big House in Ann Arbor. Limegrover and Claeys have with Kill for long enough that it won’t disturb the schedule.