Gophers Prepare For ‘Another Season'

The Gophers barely escaped going 0-3 in their nonconference schedule, but their tests will likely only get harder as they open Big Ten play this weekend against Purdue.

Ready or not, the Gophers, fresh off a 42-39 loss at Florida Atlantic, begin Big Ten play at home against Purdue on Sept. 22. The Boilermakers are 3-0, loaded on offense and probably licking their chops after watching the Gophers defense the first three weeks.

The Gophers? They're 1-2, wounded on defense and in desperate need of a confidence boost.

Most Gophers fans figured the team would experience some growing pains under first-year coach Tim Brewster. Few would have guessed the Gophers would have a missed 33-yard field goal by Miami (Ohio) in the second overtime to thank for keeping them from being 0-3 entering conference games. The Gophers believe they just as easily could be 3-0 if they had made some plays at critical times.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Adam Weber was correct when he said the Gophers have experienced about "every situation you can have in football" the past three weeks.

They went to overtime in the season opener and triple-overtime in the second game, and lost to lowly Florida Atlantic on Saturday, Sept. 15. They've had terrible starts, crazy comebacks and a lot of passes thrown at them.

"I think you look at the (non-conference) as a learning experience," Weber said. "We showed a lot of bad things, but we also showed some good stuff. I guess you look at the Big Ten as another season."

The Gophers have allowed nearly 1,300 yards passing so far, and two of their three opponents weren't even considered passing teams. That doesn't bode well this week against a Purdue team that leads the Big Ten in passing, scoring and total offense.

Brewster said the coaching staff is going to simplify the game plan to help out the young secondary, which is starting two true freshmen.

"I've got to do a better job of giving our kids a chance," Brewster said. "I'm extremely disappointed in myself."

The Gophers also have to do a better job of tackling, especially after catches. They missed enough tackles to last a season in the first half against Florida Atlantic.

"As a defense, we need to work on tackling," senior linebacker Mike Sherels said. "That was the story of the Bowling Green game and that is the story of this game. It wasn't a complete, total breakdown. It was basic tackling. Basic fundamentals of football."

NOTES

  • RB Amir Pinnix failed to rush for 100 yards for the first time in six games last week, finishing with 92 yards on 16 carries. Pinnix also had a critical fumble at the Florida Atlantic 1-yard line. The ball went into the end zone and was recovered by the Owls for a touchback, costing Minnesota a touchdown.

  • WR Ernie Wheelwright caught five passes for 43 yards, including two touchdowns in the fourth quarter as the Gophers outscored Florida Atlantic 25-7 in the second half.


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