Gophers vow to compete with Wolverines

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 3, 2012 - 9:13 AM

Last season's 58-0 pasting aside, the Gophers believe they can recapture the Little Brown Jug if they play smart and believe.

hide

Elusive Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson is expected to be near full strength Saturday after suffering an injury to his right (throwing) elbow last week in a loss to Nebraska.

Photo: Jerry Holt, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

After 20 games as the Gophers' coach, Jerry Kill owns eight wins, but he doesn't really have a "statement" victory yet -- a game that announces to the world and the Big Ten that progress is being made.

He definitely has a signature loss, however.

It came in Ann Arbor last September, in Kill's Big Ten debut in front of the third-largest crowd ever to witness a Gophers football game. Michigan 58, Minnesota 0, and it was that close only because the Wolverines grew bored after halftime.

"It was a pretty lousy day," said safety Brock Vereen, one of the Gophers' leading tacklers that day. "Just one of those days where nothing went right."

No game could better illustrate the challenge that Kill faced at Minnesota. Now he has had 399 days to make changes, 13 months to plug the holes that allowed 18 different Wolverine plays of 10-plus yards or train an offense that crossed midfield in Michigan Stadium only twice.

But of course, the Gophers have spent a couple of generations trying to be competitive with the Wolverines -- Michigan's last loss in Minnesota came in Memorial Stadium 35 years ago. Yes, the Wolverines make their first visit to TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday, having gone 12-0 in the Metrodome.

That's a lot of history to reverse, overwhelming domination from both short-term and long-term perspectives. The Gophers claim it's motivation, that retrieving the Little Brown Jug for just the fourth time since 1967 is a goal that compels them to work harder and execute more precisely this week.

"We've talked about how last year there were two embarrassing games: Purdue and Michigan," said quarterback Philip Nelson, who was starting for Mankato West when those back-to-back blowouts took place. "We made one of them right. We're ready to go make another one right."

They certainly sound as though 58-0 is a rallying cry for this week, and last week's 44-28 thumping of the Boilermakers, Nelson's first collegiate victory, undoubtedly instills some confidence. But couldn't the opposite be true, too -- doesn't the utter one-sidedness of that rout inevitably create doubt?

"It can, if you allow it. But our point is, there's no reason to let it," offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover said. "Part of our message is, 'Hey guys, it's not physical, it's mental. If you believe you can win this game, you can.' That's why last week was so important. There's a feeling that, hey, this stuff works. If we do our jobs, if we stick together, it works."

Making it work against the Wolverines is a particularly gnarly challenge, especially if Denard Robinson has recovered from a nerve injury in his throwing elbow (and according to Michigan coach Brady Hoke, he has). Michigan's three losses this year came against teams ranked in the top 20 of the BCS standings: No. 1 Alabama, No. 3 Notre Dame, No. 20 Nebraska.

That's the wrong way to look at it, Limegrover insists. "To us, they're 5-3," said the offensive coordinator, on guard against "they're-too-good" sentiments. "They're not undefeated. I mean, Purdue should have beaten Notre Dame, and we beat Purdue."

The keys to beating Michigan are simple: Contain Robinson and force him to throw; his nine interceptions are the most in the conference. And be patient against the Wolverines' no-big-plays defense, the best pass-stopping unit in the league.

"Michigan will make you beat them. They're going to say, OK, take the 5-yard out, take the short pass. Because they have the mentality that people aren't patient enough, and that things tend to break down when you have to move the football nine, 10, 11 plays instead of [using] quick strikes," Limegrover said.

"We have to be very comfortable in moving the chains 5 yards at a time, and make sure everyone realizes we're gong to have to be very sharp, because one breakdown might mean we have to kick the ball away."

And never allow those 58-0 doubts to creep in.

"That's the thing we have to change more than anything, that mindset," Kill said. "We're not even close to reaching our potential. We've got a lot of room to get better."

  • GOPHERS VS. MICHIGAN • 11 a.m. today • TCF Bank Stadium • TV: Big Ten Network (100.3-FM, 1130-AM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Cincinnati - LP: M. Latos 4 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: B. Norris 5
Boston - WP: J. Kelly 9 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: S. Greene 4
Detroit - WP: P. Coke 4 FINAL
Cleveland - LP: C. Allen 2
NY Mets - WP: J. Niese 8 FINAL
Miami - LP: B. Penny 6
Philadelphia - WP: K. Kendrick 4 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: M. Minor 0
Toronto - WP: R. Dickey 8 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: J. Hellickson 2
Milwaukee - LP: Y. Gallardo 1 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Arrieta 7
LA Angels - LP: C. Wilson 3 FINAL
Houston - WP: B. Peacock 8
Chicago WSox - WP: D. Webb 6 FINAL
Minnesota - LP: L. Oliveros 3
Texas - LP: M. Kirkman 1 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: J. Frasor 2
Pittsburgh - LP: J. Locke 4 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: A. Wainwright 6
San Francisco - WP: G. Kontos 12 FINAL
Colorado - LP: M. Belisle 7
Seattle - WP: J. Paxton 6 FINAL
Oakland - LP: S. Gray 5
Washington - LP: D. Fister 1 FINAL
Los Angeles - WP: C. Kershaw 4
Arizona - LP: B. Ziegler 1 FINAL
San Diego - WP: K. Quackenbush 2
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
Buffalo 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
New Orleans 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta
Minnesota 9/7/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Cleveland 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Jacksonville 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Oakland 9/7/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
Cincinnati 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Washington 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Tennessee 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
New England 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Carolina 9/7/14 3:25 PM
Tampa Bay
San Francisco 9/7/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Indianapolis 9/7/14 7:30 PM
Denver
NY Giants 9/8/14 6:10 PM
Detroit
San Diego 9/8/14 9:20 PM
Arizona
Miami-Florida 13 FINAL
(25) Louisville 31
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
SMU 9/6/14 11:00 AM
North Texas
Fla Atlantic 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Army
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Toledo
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
(7) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(19) Nebraska
Central Mich 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Akron 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Western Ill 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(18) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
(4) Oklahoma 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tulsa
Western Ky 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
SC State 9/6/14 11:30 AM
(23) Clemson
Navy 9/6/14 12:00 PM
Temple
UAB 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Miss State
South Alabama 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Kent State
New Mexico St 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Fresno State 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Utah
(2) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Washington
(14) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(13) Stanford
Ohio U 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Middle Tennessee 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Northern Ill 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Missouri State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Ball State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Iowa
Maryland 9/6/14 2:30 PM
So Florida
Eastern Mich 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Florida
Georgia Tech 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Tulane
(15) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Vanderbilt
Old Dominion 9/6/14 5:00 PM
NC State
(7) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(17) Arizona State 9/6/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico
Louisiana Tech 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
San Jose St 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(21) So Carolina
Duke 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Troy
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(15) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(12) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(16) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(9) Texas A&M
Northwestern St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Citadel 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(1) Florida State
San Diego St 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(21) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(8) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(11) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Texas Tech 9/6/14 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Toronto 12 FINAL
Hamilton 13
Edmonton 13 FINAL
Calgary 28
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Winnipeg
Minnesota 78 FINAL
Phoenix 96
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pm
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pm
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. TBA
Sep 27 - at Michigan TBA
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern TBA
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

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Gophers in their season opener

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close