Minnesota offense hits a rut against Ohio State ‘D’

The Gophers were held to a season-low 277 total yards in the game.

by Brian Deutsch

Minnesota’s new gold-on-gold uniforms shined for much of the first half, though they eventually rusted over against a better Ohio State team Saturday.

The Gophers dropped their third straight game of the season to the No. 8 Buckeyes in a 30-7 loss, which was, oddly enough, closer than most had expected.

Minnesota (1-4 overall, 0-2 Big Ten) came into the game a 22-point underdog that desperately needed a spark against a team most thought Minnesota didn’t have “a snowball’s chance in hell” against, according to coach Tim Brewster.

And coming out in the new duds seemed to improve a Gophers squad that had become notoriously flat in the first half.

Although junior kicker Joel Monroe missed his 42-yard field goal on the game’s opening drive, the half was an otherwise success offensively for Minnesota against a defense that had only given up more than one touchdown once this season.

Coming into the contest, Ohio State had the second-best defense in the country – allowing on average 177.8 yards a game.

The Gophers amassed more than that in the first half with 199 yards including redshirt freshman quarterback Adam Weber’s 4-yard bootleg pass to freshman wide out Ralph Spry, who just slipped into the end zone.

Spry’s first collegiate touchdown reception in the second quarter brought the score to 14-7 after Buckeyes’ running back Chris Wells took two short runs into the end zone during the first quarter.

Spry talked about having a personal positive amidst the team’s struggles after the game.

“It felt good at the moment Ö I hadn’t scored one since high school,” Spry said. “It feels good to finally get in the end zone.”

After the defense, surprisingly improved in the first half, forced Ohio State to punt on its next possession, the Gophers were threatening to send the game into halftime tied.

But Weber threw his conference-worst ninth interception of the season, this time in the red zone and after an Ohio State penalty; the Buckeyes took over on their 2-yard line.

“We were driving, we were moving the ball, it was open and I threw it behind the receiver,” Weber said. “There was a touchdown to be had there, and we missed out on that opportunity.”

Ohio State (5-0, 2-0) then marched 98 yards and deflated Minnesota’s momentum when quarterback Todd Boeckman hit receiver Brian Robiskie on a 52-yard touchdown pass with just over a minute remaining in the half.

The extra-point attempt was blocked by senior defensive tackle Todd Meisel, but the damage had already been done.

The second-half Gophers looked quite similar to the first-half team from the first four games of the year, which struggled on both sides of the ball.

The offense managed just 78 net yards in the half and converted just three of 16 third-down plays. The Gophers actually had a net loss of two yards on the ground, a statistic that symbolizes the team’s second half struggles.

Meanwhile, the defense, which came into the game ranked dead last in the country in total defense, gave up another 10 points in the second half.

Although as Weber said, “there are no moral victories,” the game was definitely Minnesota’s best showing against its most well-rounded opponent to date – something Brewster was impressed with.

“I told our kids in the locker room after the game that we’ve got a plan in place, we’re going to keep cutting wood, we just have to keep working every day,” Brewster said. “We feel good about what they did tonight against Ohio State.”