Hartman: First half troubles don't bother Gophers

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 23, 2012 - 12:22 AM
The Gophers football team, having endured its share of losing in recent years, got off to a 4-0 start for the first time since 2008 Saturday night when it defeated Syracuse 17-10.

And the Gophers can win their fifth game in a row for the first time since 2004 if they can go to Iowa next Saturday and beat the Hawkeyes, who lost to Central Michigan on Saturday.

Yes, coach Jerry Kill questioned whether the Gophers would have won this game a year ago, considering that they missed two first-half field goals and had a touchdown called back because of a holding penalty.

Kill was sure the team has improved at overcoming adversity, something gained this year.

Kill wanted to make sure that this was a "we win" -- a victory for the fans and the students, who gave the team a great assist as they made it very difficult for Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib to call plays. The noise caused several penalties that stopped drives of the visitors.

One of the stars of the game was Michael Carter, who despite two successive pass interference penalties was involved with Derrick Wells in a great goal-line stand in the third quarter.

Syracuse had started a drive that lasted more than six minutes and had the Orange on the Gophers 1-yard line on first-and-goal. Carter and Wells threw Syracuse running back Jerome Smith for a 3-yard loss, and on third down Aaron Hill continued the great defensive series by intercepting a deflected pass.

Had the Orange scored, pulling the visitors to within 14-10, the result might have been a lot different.

Carter might have been inspired by the presence of his cousin, former Gophers safety Tyrone Carter, who was on the sidelines after being inducted into the Gophers Hall of Fame.

Tyrone talked about how Michael Carter had become a new person and was now a great student and a good player after a bad start at the university.

Yes, defensively, this Gophers team is doing things that it never did under the previous coaching staff, and the result has been victories.

Frazier: Too early to call it rebuilding

Most members of the media who cover the NFL don't give the Vikings any chance of winning the NFC North or making the playoffs. The word rebuilding is used by the media when it comes to predicting how the Vikings will do this year, and you even hear this from Zygi and Mark Wilf, owners of the team.

But Vikings coach Leslie Frazier doesn't like to use that term this early in the season.

"I hate to say rebuilding after two games," Frazier said. "I want to see where we are after this game [against the 49ers] and then reflect back on where we are after three games. I wouldn't want to use the word rebuilding.

"There are a lot of teams that lost last Sunday who thought they had a good chance to win. We were one of those teams, and we have to bounce back. That's part of the NFL."

Frazier describes the Vikings as a young group of guys that are "fighting their tails off," adding that he thinks the team is coming together.

"This will be a big challenge this week for us against San Francisco," he said. "They're a veteran team that's a good team, and we'll find out a lot more about where we are based on how we perform in this ballgame."

Frazier pointed out that the Vikings have to do a lot of things better than they have done in the first two weeks of the season, when they beat the Jaguars at home in Week 1 and lost to the Colts on the road in Week 2. He pointed to the defense at the end of halves as something that needs to get better.

"We've done some good things, being able to get key stops in the game, but we haven't played well in our two-minute situations thus far in the season," Frazier said. "We have to improve in that area. But I like what we've done stopping people on third-and-1s on the goal line. We had a third-and-1 the other day after our offense turned the ball over, our defense stopped them.

"We had the two penalties coming out of the half where our defense held Indianapolis to a field goal. They are doing some good things, but we have to get our two-minute defense better."

Sad day for the Nanne family

One of the greatest hockey families in the state of Minnesota, if not the greatest, suffered a huge loss when Michael Nanne, son of Lou, died Friday night at age 48 after suffering from brain cancer for a long period.

When he was 18, Michael lost a leg in a motorcycle accident, but nothing stopped him from becoming a great dentist, and one of his clients was the Wild. Like his father said, he was an incredible person who faced adversity without any complaint.

He was one of four children -- three sons and one daughter -- of Francine and Lou Nanne, a fantastic family that has given so much to this community and also to the sport of hockey. There will be a lot of tears at the services with memories of this great young man.

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