Offense- Going into this game, I didn't think Minnesota had a great shot at pulling off the upset unless a few things happened. One thing was not turning the ball over and on the first drive, quarterback Mitch Leidner fumbled on his second career start, but first start on the road with 111,000 thousand cheering against you. While he could have folded and played very nervous the rest of the game, he came back and put together a beautiful drive that went 16 plays for 75 yards that ate up 9:44 and was capped off with a great touchdown pass to Maxx Williams. Leidner was 14-21 passing for 145 yards with that touchdown, but also a pick sick at the end. However, the Michigan defense tightened up and the Gophers could not get a lot going from there on out. Minnesota did finish with 281 yards with a 136 of it coming from the ground on 41 rushing attempts averaging 3.3 yards per carry. They were also 8-15 on third downs and 1-1 on fourth down. While Minnesota had the ball 8 minutes more than Michigan, you still have to score more and they just couldn't do it. I thought Leidner played very well and the offense showed signs of encouragment, so they have to work on really finishing drives.
Defense- Michigan has been a turnover machine the last few weeks, so you thought Minnesota defense could create some turnovers and help out the offense. That was not the case as the Wolverines didn't commit one turnover all game and finished with 348 yards of total offense. Devin Gardner was solid by being 13-17 passing for 235 yards and throwing for a touchdown. Hybrid tight end Devin Funchess had 7 catches for 151 yards and a touchdown. The Gopher secondary is very banged up and could not find an answer to stopping him. Michigan also had 113 with Fitzgerald Toussaint and Derrick Green doing most of the damage. The biggest problem with the Gopher defense was their ability to not get off the field on third down. The Wolverines were 10-13 on third down and kept their drives alive. That is killing for the defense and you could see it started to wear them down. The bye week comes at a great time with the defense very banged up and hopefully get more healthier for their next game.
Special Teams- This unit was once again solid, but didn't generate any explosive plays. Marcus Jones did take a kickoff return for over 70 yards, but it was called back because of a holding. Kicker Chris Hawthorne was 2-2 on his field goals and punter Pat Mortell punted the ball for a combined 115 yards, which was an average of 38 yards per punt. I was afraid that electric Michigan kick returner Dennis Norfleet would hit a hole and burst into the open field for the score, but the kickoff coverage and punt coverage were good all day.
Coaching- I think it is so hard to grade this area because of what happened Saturday. Coach Kill suffered a seizure in the morning and did not coach the game. Defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys took over the reins and led the team, but he didn't plan on leading the team. With him and this veteran coaching staff keeping the kids focused as best they could trying to perform at a high level, I give credit for the job they accomplished, but obviously it wasn't enough against Michigan.