MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- Some good, some bad in the Gophers' season opener, but for now, all that matters is the final score. I'll have more on this game in the coming days, but here are just a few lingering impressions from opening night:
-- Happiest guy I saw after the game may have been line coach and running-game coordinator Tim Davis. "Two hundred and eight yards, huh?" Davis crowed a he walked by. "Is that any good? That's pretty good, isn't it?"
Um, yeah, that's pretty amazing. And yes, doing it against a Big Ten defensive line, with players 40 pounds heavier than MTSU's undersized defenders, is another matter. But they've got another month to prepare for that, and the initial signs are certainly positive. Duane Bennett averaged 6.2 yards per carry, and his 32-yard burst on the first play from scrimmage was longer than any run by a Gopher last year.
"Running game coordinator." Not a bad title when they perform like that.
-- Along those lines, how about the Gophers being the ones to wear down their opponents? The heat was oppressive (or so it looked -- full disclosure, the press box is delightfully air conditioned and we kept the windows tightly sealed), but with the game tied in the fourth quarter, Minnesota simply imposed its will, holding the ball for 9:07 in the 90-degree heat, and marching 77 yards for the touchdown.
-- The Blue Raiders are going to be pretty good, and quarterback Logan Kilgore can play. The Gophers were able to deal with their offense for awhile, but late in the first half, MTSU sped things up with their spread offense, and the Gophers couldn't get organized in time. They also had a rash of poor tackling for about half a quarter; maybe the heat played a role, maybe not. It's probably a little scary to contemplate how the game might have gone with Dwight Dasher running the show -- quarterback scrambles did some damage, and Dasher's a master at them. They've got an explosive offense, and Tim Brewster was right -- holding the Blue Raiders to 17 points is an achievement.
-- Two missed field goals by the normally reliable Eric Ellestad handed MTSU the opportunity for an upset, so that's a little worrisome. The misses came from 39 and 40 yards, which should be well within his range.
That's all from Murfreesboro. I'll have more tomorrow.