Patrick Reusse: U defense shows effort, but results don't follow

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 23, 2011 - 1:13 AM

The Gophers' continued ineptitude on offense resulted in another blowout loss.


The Gophers defense played well at times in spite of the final score. Here Gophers defender Kyle Henderson (14) broke up a first-half pass in the end zone intended for Nebraska receiver Quincy Enunwa.

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The Gophers lost 28-17 at Purdue in their seventh game of 2010. The loss put them at 1-6. They were 0-3 in the Big Ten, outscored vs. Northwestern, Wisconsin and Purdue by a combined 98-68.

Coach Tim Brewster was fired the next day with five games remaining in his fourth season.

Saturday, the Gophers lost 41-14 to Nebraska in their seventh game of 2011. The loss put them at 1-6. They are 0-3 in the Big Ten, outscored vs. Michigan, Purdue and Nebraska by a combined 144-31.

There is a discrepancy in the Big Ten portion in the schedule, yet it wouldn't be a stretch to suggest the signs of improved coaching -- with Jerry Kill's loyal staff compared to Brewster's chaotic collection -- have been minimal.

What's remarkable is that, with two weeks to get ready, Kill and Co. seemed to have this porous collection of defenders ready for an energetic effort.

Unfortunately, there were so many dunderheaded plays from the home team that effort mattered not.

"In the first quarter, we played really hard on defense,'' Kill said. "We had a bad break in a critical situation. That was a critical play mentally, and our kids didn't come back from that.''

The hard play on defense showed on Nebraska's first possession, when the Huskers reached the 4 and wound up kicking a field goal.

That effort continued on the second possession, when on fourth-and-1 the Gophers defended a Taylor Martinez pitch and the ball bounced off reserve back Aaron Green. The ball caromed out of bounds several yards forward and was deemed a "muff,'' not a fumble, and Nebraska had a first down at the Gophers 11.

And then the Gophers did what losing teams always do: felt sorry for themselves.

First, the Gophers neglected to cover fullback Tyler Legate, and he walked into the end zone with a pass from Martinez. Then, they went hell-bent after Martinez on the first play of the next possession, and receiver Kenny Bell went 82 yards on a reverse for another touchdown.

It was 17-0 with 15 seconds gone in the second quarter, and the 20,000 fans wearing red in attendance for the Gophers' homecoming were comfortable in the knowledge that a 21-year gap in the Minnesota-Nebraska rivalry had not changed a thing.

The score was 34-0 at halftime Saturday, and at that moment Nebraska had scored 145 consecutive points vs. Minnesota. The Gophers' previous score had been Rickey Foggie's 63-yard pass to Valdez Baylor on the first play of the fourth quarter in 1984 -- a 38-7 loss in Lincoln.

It took a double-reverse, flea-flicker pass from MarQueis Gray to Da'Jon McKnight for 53 yards to finally set up a Gophers touchdown in the middle of the third quarter.

Gray picked up a fumbled snap and ran it in for the score. That ended the Gophers' scoreless streak vs. Nebraska at 173 minutes, 7 seconds, or at 27 years, whichever Big Red Nation prefers.

As usual, the Gophers put on quite an aerial display before the trick play. Gray was 2-for-8 for 9 yards at halftime. Kill was asked how a team can expect to compete in big-time football with one dimension on offense.

"I don't think we're that one-dimensional,'' he said. "It's not that we want to pass for 9 yards in a half. What we need to do is keep getting better -- MarQueis passing the ball, our receivers catching it, and with our protection.

"Some teams can win by throwing for 9 yards in a half. Ohio State beat Illinois, and I think it completed one pass for 4 yards. I don't think we're one of the teams that can do that. You know that, and so do I.''

What nobody knew going into this season was that it could be this difficult for Gray to throw an accurate pass. Nebraska's Martinez has about the worst delivery you could find in a BCS-level quarterback, and yet he's Peyton Manning in comparison to MarQueis.

Trouble is, freshman Max Shortell is such an inviting target as a 6-5 statue that the Gophers are stuck with Gray and no passing attack.

Kill's defense tried Saturday, it really tried. But in the end, the yards allowed were 515, as the burden of fighting off the Huskers' hard-nosed attack and trying to lug around the Gophers offense was too much to avoid a third Big Ten blowout in a row.

Patrick Reusse can be heard noon-4 weekdays on 1500ESPN. •

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


San Francisco - WP: M. Bumgarner 8 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: E. Volquez 0
Minnesota 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
Washington 1 FINAL
Buffalo 6
Carolina 3 FINAL
Columbus 6
Pittsburgh 2 FINAL
Detroit 0
Montreal 3 FINAL
Chicago 1
Arizona 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Fla Atlantic 6:00 PM
UCF 6:00 PM
Arizona 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton 10/10/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa 10/11/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters


Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pm30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 am
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA




question of the day

Poll: How will the Gophers do against Michigan?

Weekly Question