Offenses struggle on both sides

Problems moving the ball continued for the Gophers against Iowa.

by Austin Cumblad

The potential measures of offensive futility from SaturdayâÄôs contest are abundant and striking. Candidates include the combined 5-for-33 on third down, the combined 372 yards and the combined 1.4 average yards per rush. But perhaps nothing sums it up better than this: 17 punts to 12 points scored in the game; nine for the Hawkeyes, eight for the Gophers. There were 649 yards worth of punts, frighteningly close to doubling the offensive output of the two teams . Of course, for the Gophers, itâÄôs been a season of offensive struggles. The new system implemented by first-year offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch only really clicked in a 42-34 win over Michigan State. It has succeeded in fits at times but halted completely at others. And in two ways on Saturday, it was a historically poor day on offense. Iowa shut out Minnesota for the second-straight season; the last time that happened was in 1955 and 1956. The Gophers were shut out this year by Penn State as well; the last time they were shut out twice in a single season was 1986. âÄúThis offense is going to be a great offense,âÄù junior quarterback Adam Weber said. âÄúYou hate to use excuses; weâÄôll never do that. We had opportunities this year. I think we showed what we can do against Michigan State, but weâÄôve also shown that if weâÄôre not prepared and weâÄôre not hitting on all cylinders, how bad we can play as well.âÄù Bowl break coming at good time Without a bye week, Minnesota didnâÄôt have an opportunity mid-season to rest and get back to health. As a result, the Gophers are a banged up team. A month-plus to recover before their bowl game will surely help. Starters who missed SaturdayâÄôs game, apart from senior wide receiver Eric Decker, who had season-ending surgery a few weeks ago include: sophomore receiver Brandon Green, senior cornerback Traye Simmons and senior center Jeff Tow-Arnett. Sophomore receiver DaâÄôJon McKnight was knocked out of the game as well after a hit from Iowa safety Brett Greenwood . Head coach Tim Brewster said, âÄúDaâÄôJon got his bell rung pretty good.âÄù Most, if not all, of MinnesotaâÄôs injured players should return for the GophersâÄô bowl game. Sacks abound The Gophers entered SaturdayâÄôs contest with the fewest sacks in the Big Ten (16) but used a number of blitz packages unseen by opposing offenses this year to sack Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg four times Saturday , tying a season high. Cornerback Ryan Collado, safety Kim Royston and linebacker Gary Tinsley all notched their first career sacks . Collado had two untouched paths to the quarterback, as various bluffs and shifts confounded the HawkeyesâÄô zone-blocking scheme. âÄúI thought Kevin did a great job,âÄù Brewster said. âÄúOur defensive staff put together a great plan, and they went after Iowa.âÄù