1. Not Ready For Next Step
Coach Kill has been very good in turning programs around and year three is usually his best year in completing that turn around. Minnesota entered this game 4-0 against a good, but not great 3-1 Iowa team. It looked pretty evenly matched game coming in and with ton of top recruits in Minneapolis for the game, which could have really made a statement for the Gopher program. Minnesota looked over matched and not ready to handle the spotlight quite yet throughout the game. I understand the Gophers have injuries to some critical players like Nelson and Kirkwood, but both saw plenty of game action and were very involved in the game. They will need to regroup from this and get ready for a Jekyll and Hyde Michigan squad next week with the Little Brown Jug on the line.
2. The Passing Attack Won't Cut It
Quarterback Phillip Nelson came back from his injury to start a week after being out to replace Mitch Leidner, who was impressive last week against San Jose State. Nelson was 12-24 for 135 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. He didn't look comfortable having to throw the ball that much and the wide receivers really couldn't get separation form the Iowa defensive backs in any part of the game. The lone bright spot came from Gopher wide out Derrick Engel having 5 receptions for 67 yards and a touchdown. If Minnesota continues to have to throw the ball a ton in games, then that could spell trouble for them.
3. Offensive Line Needs To Get More Push
Last week, Minnesota rushed for over 350 yards on 67 carries averaging about 5 yards per rush. That controlled the clock and kept the defense off the field. The offensive line was opening holes and staying with their blocks. This week was the opposite by the Gophers only rushing for only 30 yards on 27 carries. That is an average of 1.1 yards per carry. That won't get it done and the longest run all game came from Roderick Williams Jr. for a 12 yard carry. All day the Iowa defense was swarming and never let Minnesota get going with their bread and butter, which is the running game. Iowa just simply out muscled Minnesota in the trenches.
4. Playcalling Questions
Minnesota Offensive Coordinator Matt Limegrover had been pretty solid in the first four weeks of his play calling and against Iowa had 24 passes and 27 rushes. I have never been a fan on running the ball straight down the middle unless you are Alabama, but Minnesota's offensive line is not close to that standard. With the defense and special teams keeping you in the game, you need to try something new and create a spark. I didn't see anything that Iowa did that should have only allowed Minnesota to score 7 points. The Hawkeyes did load the box and wanted to stop the run first and they did just that. I would have liked to see some adjustments throughout the game, but the offense seemed blend. Minnesota's drives on the day went punt, punt, punt, interception, punt, punt, punt, passing touchdown (Nelson to Engel), punt and interception. That just won't get it done and resulted in their first loss of the season.
5. Bend Don't Break
The Minnesota defense was on the field for about 36 minutes of the game because the offense didn't have the ball that much and were forced to come on after some bad turnovers. Iowa generated 464 total yards of offense with 246 yards coming on the ground and 218 coming through the air. The Hawkeyes also were 8-14 on 3rd down, but only scored 23 points. The Gophers stiffened when they had to and forced four field goal attempts with three being good. That can keep you in the game by instead of three touchdowns for 21 points being on the board, they only get three field goals for 9 points. Still, they got many things to work on, but they kept Minnesota in a game that looked like it could have been a lot worse.