Offense- When you gain 424 yards in the game and score 43 points, you know a lot went right offensively. The ground and pound method was in full force against San Jose State and the three headed running attack in Mitch Leidner, David Cobb and Roderick Williams was too much for the Spartan defense to handle. There was a mixture of speed and power in there with a ton of success. The Gophers ran the ball for 353 yards on 67 rushing attempts averaging 5.3 yards per run. Minnesota is now 13th in the nation overall in rushing yards per game with averaging 283.3 yards. Under Leidner's first career start was a good one as he generated 25 first downs and going 7-13 on 3rd downs. He did most of his damage with his feet by only being 5-12 for 71 yards through the air. Overall, it was a very solid performance by this offensive unit that had Phillip Nelson out and running back Donnell Kirkwood not see game action.
Defense- This was going to be a tough task coming in to stop the future draft pick, quarterback David Fales. He got hot early and put up 294 yards with two touchdown passes through their explosive ariel attack.The Gophers did turn up the heat and during halftime made some adjustments by showing different coverages and dialing up different blitzes as well. He threw two interceptions in the second half with linebacker Aaron Hill and cornerback Cedric Thompson each recording a pick. The running game was not a factor for San Jose State as they could only rush for 47 yards the whole game on 17 runs. That is 2.8 yards per run, which will not make the defense respect that aspect in your offense. Still, Minnesota gave up almost 500 total yards in the game and let the Spartans score 24 points. There is still much to work on especially in the banged up secondary, but I like the direction the defense is heading.
Special Teams- This unit has been solid the past few weeks, but struggled. Explosive kickoff returner and punt returner Marcus Jones was never able to rip off any large chunks and make any guys miss. Kicker Chris Hawthorne didn't have a good game by making a 22 yard chip shot field goal, but missing a 50 yard field goal too. The main concern might be that he was 4-6 on extra points and those points could prove costly in a tighter game. Punter Pat Mortell was solid once again with 3 punts for a total of 127 yards averaging over 42 yards per punt. His long was 56 yard punt and that set the Spartans back and having to work with a long field.
Coaching- Many and even myself had Minnesota barely beating San Jose State after what happened last week. This team came out hungry and played hard from the start to end. I give props to Coach Kill and his staff by the game plan they had coming in by dominating the time of possession and not allowing that explosive Spartan offense to have the ball a lot. The halftime adjustments on defense really made a difference and shut down any chances San Jose State had of winning. I like everything they did in this game and will need that same type of strategy, game plan and adjustments as they enter the Big Ten part of their schedule.