Similar spread offenses produce very different outcome for Gophers in loss

Bowling Green picked apart Minnesota’s defense in the first half forcing an unsuccessful comeback.

Brian Deutsch

Although both Bowling Green and Minnesota use a similar spread offense system, the manner in which the two teams moved the ball down the field Saturday night in the 32-31 Falcons’ win was anything but similar.

On Bowling Green’s first two drives, which resulted in touchdown passes of 53 and 24 yards, the Falcons were able to move the ball a total of 167 yards over eight plays.

In total, Bowling Green had just one scoring drive that lasted longer than 2:50, instead relying on long distance passes and playmaking ability to gain yards.

A lack of first-half pressure by the Gophers’ defense made picking apart the secondary easy for Falcons’ quarterback Tyler Sheehan, who threw for 388 yards in the game.

“We missed some tackles, and that allowed them to make some big plays in the passing game,” Minnesota coach Tim Brewster said. “Obviously, we have a lot of work to do in that area.”

After halftime, Minnesota put more pressure on Sheehan and as a result Bowling Green was kept out of the end zone for the rest of regulation.

Meanwhile, Minnesota mostly kept a traditional mindset on its drives, chipping away for several yards at a time while eating up the clock.

Unlike their opponents, each of the Gophers’ four scoring drives in regulation lasted at least three minutes.

“I’m proud of the whole team Ö how we bounced back at halftime and make it a game. It’s just disappointing it had to end the way it did,” senior defensive tackle Todd Meisel said. “It was a great learning experience, it’s better to have a game like this now early in the season than to lose a big game at the end of the season.”

Three TDs for Pinnix

Trailing by 21 at the start of the second half, Minnesota desperately needed to put some points on the scoreboard.

Finally, after the first eight Gophers’ drives ended in either a turnover or a punt, senior running back Amir Pinnix ended the scoring drought when the 6-foot, 205-pounder scored on a four-yard touchdown carry.

The short scamper by Pinnix marked the first points under the Brewster staff and got the ball rolling on Minnesota’s second-half comeback.

“We just wanted to get into the end zone, so we could start clicking as an offense,” Pinnix said. “I think we got better throughout the game.”

Individually, Pinnix led the Gophers with 168 yards on 28 carries including a career-best 58-yard run in the second half.

The senior added a game-tying touchdown reception midway and a 23-yard touchdown run in overtime.

Weber shows potential

Coming into the weekend, redshirt freshman quarterback Adam Weber said he expected his nerves to dissipate after the hitting started.

And although the Falcons’ defense came at Weber early and often, the newcomer didn’t seem to find his comfort zone until the second half.

“I think I was a little over-excited and not making good reads,” Weber said. “Coming in at halftime, we were able to talk to each other and realize that we needed to relax. We were down by 21 points, but it was going to be a long second half, we knew we could come back.”

Once the play caller settled into his role, he was able to march Minnesota down the field on four straight drives to erase the 21-point deficit and take a three-point lead in the final minutes of regulation.

Weber completed 15 passes on 31 attempts with two touchdown passes and two interceptions on the game.