Joe Christensen covered Major League Baseball for 15 years, including three seasons at the Baltimore Sun and eight at the Star Tribune, before switching to the college football beat. He’s a Faribault, Minn., native who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1996. He covered Jim Wacker’s Gophers for the Minnesota Daily and also wrote about USC, UCLA and the Rose Bowl for the Riverside Press-Enterprise before getting this chance to cover football again.

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Claeys: Fans think "we fell off edge of the Earth"

Posted by: Phil Miller under College football, Gopher road games Updated: October 10, 2012 - 9:38 AM

      Doesn't a week off, right in the middle of your profession's busiest stretch, sound like a welcome reprieve?
     It doesn't to Tracy Claeys, not after watching the Gophers' 31-13 loss in Iowa.
     "When you play like that, then you don't play the next week, it's miserable," said Claeys, the Gophers' defensive coordinator. "I've had a miserable off week. I know we're better than that, but you've got to wait two weeks, and everybody is talking."
     And what is everybody saying? "Everybody thinks we fell off the edge of the Earth," Claeys said.
     What's frustrating to him is how magnified a run of mistakes in the second quarter became, how the Gophers allowed a competitive game between two fairly even teams, in his estimation, to turn into a blowout. Iowa's first three possessions encompassed 15 plays -- 12 of them gaining fewer than four yards, and six for no gain or a loss of yardage. The second play of the game was a 45-yard completion on a botched coverage, but even then, the Gophers forced the Hawkeyes to settle for a field goal.
     "I wasn't disappointed with the way we came out of the gate. They ran a little trick play type of route that we hadn't seen, but we tackled it and held them to a field goal. That's what I'm used to," Claeys said. The Gophers forced Iowa to punt away its next two possessions, and there was no inkling that the game would turn lopsided.
     But over the next dozen plays or so, the defense made one awful play, one ugly mistake, after another, turning a three-point tug-of-war into a four-score laugher.
     "Plays 1-15, we didn't play bad; we just gave up that one pass. But then plays 17-28, we hit a stretch in there that wasn't good," Claeys said. "It's frustrating as hell, because all of a sudden, the game's over -- 24 (straight) points. You're trying to catch up from 24-0. Because of that little swing in there, you (bleeped) it away, and I think we're better than that. So it's very frustrating."
     After allowing three points on the first three possessions, seven bad defensive plays from that point in the game to halftime -- six of which gained between 20 and 47 yards, after the Gophers had not allowed a 30-yard gain all season -- handed Iowa three consecutive touchdowns, and essentially the game.
     Claeys said he's not sure what happened there that allowed the roof to cave in. The attitude seemed good, the players didn't stop trying. Coach Jerry Kill credited it to momentum, that Iowa fed off its loud sellout crowd and just got on a roll. But the mistakes were simple ones, Claeys said, and the solutions as well.
     "During that stretch, yeah, I don't like it, the kids don't like it, because we didn't play very well," Claeys said of all the big gains. "We mis-fit three plays (left gaps undefended), we missed tackles on four, and on one play, we got our eyes in the backfield," allowing the Hawkeyes to pull off a flea-flicker for a touchdown.
     The players looked for schematic adjustments at halftime, but Claeys said there weren't any to make -- the solution was just to execute better. "And in the second half, Iowa got 50 yards (actually 46) and they were running the same damn stuff," the defensive coordinator said, noting that the Hawkeyes didn't score an offensive point after halftime. "If you tackle well and get where you're supposed to be, we're good enough to play. ... But because of those eight plays, we fell off the end of the world. So I'm ready to play again, quite frankly."
     Claeys said he doesn't blame fans for being disgruntled about the Iowa loss, even after four victories to open the season. But he and the coaching staff have taken care to make sure that the defense doesn't get discouraged.
     "We watched those plays as a defense. I don't want 12 plays to define us, because we're better than that. I believe that," Claeys said. "I don't want perception to become reality. Everybody's all, 'Because of one game, they ain't worth a damn. They ain't worth a damn. But we played pretty good defense, we really did, except for those eight plays. I mean, we're capable of a lot better, we really are."

 

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Chicago 17 FINAL
Detroit 34
Philadelphia 33 FINAL
Dallas 10
Seattle 19 FINAL
San Francisco 3
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Cincinnati 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
New Orleans 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Carolina 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Arizona 11/30/14 3:05 PM
Atlanta
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
Edmonton 0 FINAL(OT)
Nashville 1
ULM 54 FINAL
Robert Morris 71
Santa Clara 57 FINAL
Tennessee 64
Oklahoma 59 FINAL
Butler 46
Austin Peay 79 FINAL
Brown 58
Princeton 56 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 62
Coastal Carolina 67 FINAL
Chattanooga 78
Kansas 76 FINAL
Rhode Island 60
Wisconsin 68 FINAL
Georgetown 65
FIU 53 FINAL
USC Upstate 68
Long Island 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 73
San Diego 71 FINAL
Xavier 82
Illinois 88 FINAL
Indiana State 62
Cal State Fullerton 67 FINAL
Wright State 62
Western Ky 62 FINAL
Saint Josephs 59
Michigan State 77 FINAL
Rider 45
UCLA 56 FINAL
North Carolina 78
Long Beach State 73 FINAL
Western Mich 55
Marquette 72 FINAL
Georgia Tech 70
Stephen F Austin 73 FINAL
Prairie View 61
UAB 47 FINAL
Florida 56
Rice 71 FINAL
Mercer 77
San Jose St 56 FINAL
Washington 78
Washington St 43 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 71
Baylor 71 FINAL
Memphis 47
LSU 23 FINAL
Texas A&M 17
(6) TCU 48 FINAL
Texas 10
Northern Ill 10:00 AM
Western Mich
Nebraska 11:00 AM
Iowa
Western Ky 11:00 AM
(19) Marshall
UCF 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11:00 AM
SMU
Akron 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 12:00 PM
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Toledo 12:00 PM
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Arkansas 1:30 PM
(17) Missouri
Navy 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 7:30 PM
Tulsa
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Indiana
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Northwestern
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Temple
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Troy
Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
USC
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Maryland
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
California
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Duke
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
(25) Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UNLV
UCF 12/4/14 6:30 PM
East Carolina
Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Calgary
Hartford 43 FINAL
Furman 53
Clemson 77 FINAL
Ohio State 86
Idaho State 53 FINAL
San Diego State 68
East Carolina 58 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 69
Santa Clara 0 Cancelled
Texas-El Paso 0
Florida State 68 FINAL
Washington 80
Wichita State 39 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 56
Wisconsin 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 67
Kansas State 0 Cancelled
LSU 0
BYU 73 FINAL
BYU-Hawaii 52
Charlotte 58 FINAL
Montana 67
Illinois 77 FINAL
(9) Kentucky 71
Central Michigan 61 FINAL
Richmond 56
Oklahoma 68 FINAL
South Florida 83
Princeton 72 FINAL
Wake Forest 55
(19) Oregon State 85 FINAL
Butler 53

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