Loss at Michigan Was One For the Record Books

Saturday's 58-0 loss to Michigan may not be a true indicator of how far the Gophers are from having a respectable program. A review of a few facts and numbers shows how badly the Gophers were outplayed. The loss was the worst defeat Minnesota has ever experienced in Big Ten play and was the third-worst in program history.

Michigan scored on all six of its possessions in the first half. Minnesota allowed 32 first downs while recording only eight. The Gophers were outgained in total yardage 580-177. The Gophers got past midfield once in the first two quarters, but fumbled on the play.

Coach Jerry Kill, who was on the sidelines despite having another seizure the day following the loss to North Dakota State, suffered the worst loss of his 18-year career as a head coach.

"We are finding out about our football team the tough way," Kill said. "You have to play games so we'll see what we need to do. It will give us a process of what we are going to need to do to compete in the Big Ten because we haven't."

Even when Minnesota did something right, it didn't work. A 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown was nullified by a penalty. A promising drive ended when Michigan returned a fumble 83 yards for a score.

"Once things start going bad, it's kind of like a snowball effect. I really do believe that momentum and energy, positive or negative, is a real thing, and today I guess we just did not have it going for us," Kill said.

This is the second time in three weeks the Gophers have gone through most of the week preparing for a game without Kill. He missed most of the week of practice before the Miami game after suffering a seizure on the sidelines against New Mexico State.

"I only missed one practice," Kill said. "I've never missed a game in my life. You can't use that as an excuse."

Minnesota, which is 1-4, plays at Purdue on Saturday. The Gophers went against Michigan without quarterback MarQueis Gray, who has an injured left toe. True freshman Max Shortell completed 11-of-22 passes for 104 yards. He didn't throw an interception and was sacked four times.

NOTES, QUOTES

--Minnesota was held to eight first downs and kept the ball for only 23 minutes and 38 seconds. The Gophers were 0-for-11 on third down conversions.

--The offensive line was overmatched against Michigan. The backs had nowhere to run and the Gophers gained only 73 yards on the ground. The offensive line also yielded four sacks and have now allowed 14 in five games. The line's problems were even more noticeable since quarterback MarQueis Gray didn't play because of a toe injury. Freshman Max Shortell doesn't have Gray's mobility and can't get away from the pass rush as easily.

--The Gophers were penalized nine times for 74 yards against Michigan.

--The Gophers had their first conventional punt return of the season against Michigan. Running back Brandon Green had one return for no yardage. Duane Bennett's return of a blocked punt for a touchdown against Miami was Minnesota's only punt return in the first four games.

--Minnesota has lost 20 of the last 21 games against Michigan. The Gophers' only win in that span came in 2005, a 23-20 victory in Ann Arbor.

KEEP AN EYE ON: RB David Cobb -- The freshman has impressed the coaching staff enough to earn more playing time. He made his first career start against Michigan and led the Gophers with 54 yards on eight carries. Cobb, who made his first appearance against North Dakota State, also lost a fumble.

LOOKING GOOD: It would be a stretch to say anything looks good for the Gophers at this point. No one expected them to go into Michigan Stadium and come home with The Little Brown Jug, but Minnesota offered no resistance. The Gophers had already lost to New Mexico State, rated as one of the worst teams in the country when the season began, and to North Dakota State, an FCS team. Minnesota isn't playing competitively in any aspect of the game.

STILL NEEDS WORK: As was the case last season, the defense is getting pushed all over the field. Minnesota allowed 580 total yards against Michigan, including 363 on the ground. The Gophers also gave up 32 first downs and had only one sack, just the second the defense has recorded in five games. The defense is playing as poorly as it did in 2010 when it was one of the worst in the country.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I've been there also when I've had my teeth kicked in for a year or two and then all of a sudden you get it turned around. We just can't come off the course of what we need to do." -- Minnesota coach Jerry Kill on the Gophers' 58-0 loss to Michigan.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

PLAYER NOTES:

--CB Kyle Henderson led Minnesota with 10 tackles, including eight solo stops. He also broke up two passes.

--DE D.L. Wilhite recorded Minnesota's only sack against Michigan. It was just the Gophers' second sack of the season.

--P Dan Orseske, perhaps from overwork, had his poorest game of the season against Michigan. He punted 10 times for a 36.3 yard average with a long kick of 64 yards and two touchbacks. Orseske came into the game averaging 45.9 yards on 12 punts. He averaged 36.1 yards per punt last season.

ROSTER REPORT

--QB MarQueis Gray didn't play against Michigan because of a toe injury. He was in street clothes and wore a walking boot on the sidelines. It's not known when Gray will return.

--LB Brendan Beal played in his first game of the season against Michigan. He missed the first four games because of a knee injury.

--WR AJ Barker made his first appearance of the season against Michigan after missing the first four games with a hamstring injury.

--OT Josh Campion sustained a concussion in fall practice and has missed all five games.


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