1. Halftime Adjustments
Minnesota and Coach Kill went into halftime only up 20-17. That first half reminded me a little of last week's game against Western Illinois, where they were only up 3. The biggest adjustment that the Gophers made was to tighten up the defense in the second half. Fales had to look through his reads and had smaller windows to throw at. The front seven really put the clamps on with that tough run defense, which really put a lot of pressure on Fales doing everything on every play. The offense kept the same path, which was run the ball a lot. They could have went another direction when the game got close, but they stayed the path and overall got huge success.
2. Win Time Of Possession
Minnesota came in the game knowing that San Jose State could score points very quickly and often with their future first round draft pick, quarterback David Fales. The Gophers game plan coming in was to run the ball and to run it a lot. That is exactly what they did by running the ball 67 times for 353 yards. If you are not having success though, then it doesn't matter, but they had plenty by averaging 5.3 yards a carry. The most effective runners on the day came from quarterback Mitch Leidner and running back David Cobb, where they combined for 49 carries for 276 yards and six scores. That dynamic duo were great, but when you have the ball 41:02 minutes of the game, then there is a good chance you will win the game.
3. Secondary Needs Work
I understand that Minnesota's secondary is banged up and San Jose State does have a top notch quarterback in David Fales, but to give up 294 yards by halftime is something that needs to be address. Fales was 22-35 for 439 yards and two touchdown passes. The Spartans top running back and top wide receiver were out, so you would have thought their offense would have been depleted, but wide out Chandler Jones had 7 catches for 197 yards and 3 touchdown receptions. Fales did throw two interceptions in the game, but overall not a impressive performance by the secondary.
4. Mitch Leidner More Than Serviceable
Leidner got his first career against a feisty and pesky San Jose State defense, but knew that running the ball would be the way to go. He carried the ball 24 times for 151 yards and 4 scores. Passing wise, he went 5-12 for 71 yards, but didn't throw any interceptions and did enough to move the ball offensively. The offense racked up 424 total yards and were 7-13 on 3rd down conversations. Leidner did his job, but better than expected for his first start and makes Coach Kill breath easier if he knows Nelson is not able to go at anytime.
5. Win The Turnover Battle
Most teams that win the turnover battle usually have a good shot at winning the game. Michigan the last two games might be that exception by winning on pure talent over their opponents the past few weeks because their turnover ratio was horrible. The Gophers against the Spartans on the other hand was very different by San Jose State having 3 turnovers to Minnesota's zero. Aaron Hill's interception on David Fales really sealed the deal and that can be a huge momentum shift in any game especially like this one.