Observations on the loss to Minnesota, 20-23!

1-The Gophers came ready to play, and outplayed us from start to finish; they deserved the win! Michigan earned three red zones, and only one in the second half for 10 points (no second half points) while Minnesota scored 16 points in four red zone opportunities (three in the second half). This earned them the win.

2-Michigan's offense was the problem. They contributed zero second half points! They looked similarly to their Wisconsin and Notre Dame efforts. Don't forget to credit a wonderful, tenacious Gopher defense who played aggressively and was well coached! Minnesota has forced us into 6 punts, and had 3 sacks and 2 tipped passes. Henne was 14 of 29 for 155 yards. Hart had 28 carries for 109 yards; we ran for 93 yards in net rushing after the 3 sacks were discounted. When one has a one dimensional running game with only one back like we do, one can play an appropriate defense and that is what Minnesota did. Does anyone else think we could have benefited in this game with more carries from Max Martin and Kevin Grady? Avant had 73 yards in 6 receptions. Our offense had 19 first downs, 249 yards in 63 plays and was only 4 of 15 in 3rd and 4th down conversions. Time of possession advantage goes to Minnesota by 5 minutes and 40 seconds, and this gave them 17 more offensive plays that led to the additional red zone opportunity.

I thought we'd be able to run on them after Penn State rushed for 360+ yards last week, but they have a multi-dimensional rushing offense, ours is one dimensional.

3-The Michigan defense was solid, but let up two big plays just before the end of each half: a 21 yard TD pass to Wheelright and a 61 yard run to Russell to set up the game winning field goal. David Harris led our defense with 18 tackles, and Woodley had 9 including two for loss. Our two starting safeties weren't in the game late in the 4th quarter. Minnesota had 23first downs, 403 yards of total offense in 80 plays and was 9 of 18 in 3rd and 4th down conversions; we forced them into five punts. Cupito was 11 of 23 for 139 yards and 1 TD; he recovered well after a vicious hit by Woodley, but Woodley laid him out on the second deadly hit. Wheelright had 3 receptions for 44 yards and one TD plus he forced our cornerbacks into at least two pass interference calls. Maroney had 38 carries for 129 yards, and laid out our safeties. Russell had 18 carries for 128 yards. The Gophers dominated time of possession with a running game that netted 264 yards.

4-Special teams obviously cost us this game, but also kept us in the game. Rivas made both field goal attempts in the first half, but missed his two second half opportunities so like MSU's Goss; he gets "goat status." Breaston kept us in the game with his 95 yard kickoff return. Overall, special teams contributed 13 points, but our offense laid a "goose egg" in the second half with a zero point effort. Blame Rivas if you want, but it was Henne & company that really let us down.

5-We did not turn the ball over, no picks nor fumbles (although an apparent early whistle on the review prevented an obvious Hart fumble in the first half). We simply allowed two big plays when we were tired defensively, and couldn't produce enough offensively to get the W. We are a mediocre, 3-3, football team and we'll probably lose again. We could finish 6-5 or 7-4 depending upon how we improve. This may get us to the Motor City, Music City or possibly even the Alamo Bowl against a worth opponent. It was truly a disappointing effort from this team, and I'm sure they will be disappointed as will fans. This is a team that could be 6-0, but it is one that is 3-3. Tim Tebow and other prospective recruits should take notice into the opportunities there are here offensively. We need playmakers!

6-Justin Giannini hits 3 of 3 on field goals including the game winner. Kyle McKenzie, Reggie's nephew, led the Gopher defense with 13 tackles while Steven Davis has 2 sacks leading a heroic effort. People who don't think that the Brown Jug has meaning to these teams should re-think the rivalry, it has a lot of meaning. The Gophers earned the Jug today as they did in 1986 when they came to Ann Arbor and beat and undefeated Jim Harbaugh team ranked #2.

7-Carl Tabb gets his first start as a Wolverine!

Observations on the first half with the Gophers, 13-10!

1-The Gophers came ready to play, and they are playing tough! Michigan is one for two in the red zone for 10 points while Minnesota scored 3 points in their only red zone opportunity and added a 21 yard TD pass to Wheelright for their TD.

2-Michigan does not look good offensively, and most of the reason is a tenacious Gopher defense! Minnesota has forced us into 4 punts, and has 2 sacks and 2 tipped passes. Henne is 9 of 20 for 109 yards. Hart has 15 carries for 61 yards. Avant has 51 yards in 4 receptions. Our offense has 11 first downs, 154 yards in 38 plays and is only 2 of 9 in 3rd and 4th down conversions. Time of possession if virtually dead even.

3-The Michigan defense was solid until the end of the half on the drive that put the Gophers back in reach. David Harris leads with 7 tackles, Mason has 6 (and 2 pass break ups), Hall and Burgess have 5 each. Barringer forced a fumble that led to our last score so we have 7 points off turnover while our turnover was reviewed and ruled as no turnover although it was on the fumble by Hart. Minnesota has 12 first downs, 233 yards of total offense in 40 plays and is 4 of 9 in 3rd and 4th down conversions; we have forced them into two punts. Cupito is 10 of 16 for 135 yards and 1 TD; he recovered well after a vicious hit by Woodley. Wheelright has 3 receptions for 45 yards and one TD. Maroney has 15 carries for 59 yards while Russell has 8 carries for 35 yards.

4-Breaston and Kolodziej are back and contributing. Minnesota's Montgomery isn't being handled by Henige and Riley isn't handling the Minnesota DE Davis. I think Michigan is stupid to continue to throw passes to a one armed tight end, Massaquoi; it is a waste. Penalties have really hurt the Gophers with 4 for 50 yards while we have none. Reggie McKenzie's nephew, Kyle, leads the Gopher defense with 9 tackles; Pawielski has 7.

5-Special teams haven't been spectacular, but they've done the job. Ryan continues to boom kickoffs in the end zone (2 of 3 touchbacks), but hasn't punted well with only a 34.5 average in 4 punts. Rivas made both field goal attempts and one extra point attempt. Harrison made a nice tackle on a punt return. Breaston hasn't returned a punt, and has 3 kickoff returns for 57 yards.

6-2nd half will tell the tale! It is either team's game to win. Turnovers and capitalization of turnovers plus red zone efficiency look to be the keys in the second half.

Minnesota Preview: The Golden Gophers haven't beat Michigan in Ann Arbor since 1986 when they came in to defeat Jim Harbaugh's undefeated team. They feature another high power offense led by Junior Lawrence Maroney who is averaging 149.5 yards per game on the ground and another 25.2 yards in receiving. Gary Russell is another good back, but he is no Marion Barber. Their quarterback, Junior Brian Caputo, leads the #2 ranked Big Ten scoring offense and #1 ranked rushing offense that is averaging over 500 yards per game and 284 yards on the ground. The offensive line, led by All-Big Ten Center Greg Eslinger, not only creates lanes and holes for Maroney, but they also do a nice job in protecting Caputo allowing only 3 sacks in 5 games. Caputo likes wideouts, Logan Payne and Ernie Wheelwright along with giant tight end, Matt Spaeth.

Their defense allowed Penn State 35 first downs and 364 rushing yards so I think the plan will be to run the ball. The Nittany Lions established the run early and dominated time of possession by 11 minutes resulting in a 31 play advantage, and 91 total offensive plays. They were 13 of 19 in 3rd down conversions against the Gopher defense while only being forced into two punts. Five teams are averaging nearly 400 yards of offense per game against the Minnesota defense. Penn State put up 539 yards. They also just lost their starting strong safety, Brandon Owens. Free safety, John Pawielski, is their leading tackler and that shows the defensive line isn't doing the job.

If we stop the Minnesota running game like Penn State did, and are successful running dominating time of possession; we'll win easily. Glenn Mason has done a nice job recruiting some talented Ohio players plus getting a lot of good in-state players to stay home, and the Gophers do have talent. They'll be up for revenge and the rivalry so expect a hard-hitting game. The Gophers fall victim to the Wolverine homecoming though, 33-17! Hopefully, Ohio State will take the wind out of the Nittany Lions sails so when they come to Ann Arbor they'll be vulnerable and less confident. We could really use two wins at home prior to going on the road for Iowa and Northwestern.