Ladies and gentlemen, it's back. College football has returned! Week 1 is in the books and the Gophers are already 0-1. USC didn't outplay the Gophers, though. They got lucky. They don't need to worry. So here are just a few observations of mine on how the Gophers played.
One thing to keep in mind is that most of the players on the Gophers roster are still Brewster's players, and until Jerry Kill can get some of his players in there I think the maroon and gold will have a hard time winning.
One thing that really concerned me was the play of the defense. Let's be honest, during the first half a pee wee team could have done better. The second half was not so bad however. Although a major point of concern going forward has to be the terrible play of the defense on critical downs. Several times late in the game they gave up big runs to move the chains in USC's favor. At one point they had USC pinned down in deep in their own territory and it was something like 3rd and 15 and somehow USC managed to RUN it for a first down. I will say that again, RUN it. The pass defense is even worse. I know that USC has superstars in Barkley and Woods, but the way they went over, around, and through the defense was unacceptable.
Now on to the offensive side of the ball.
Issue number one; the Gophers need an offensive line. Their inability to protect the quarterback on pass plays will become a major problem as the season wears on. The running game isn't terrible however it again comes back to the O-line.
My biggest concern can be summed up in two words: Marqueis Gray. Gophers fans, we need to be honest with ourselves here, this kid is NOT a quarterback. He is not the answer. Throughout the entire game he showcased his inability to read a defense or stay in the pocket for even a split second after the snap. While he may have an okay arm, from what I saw he can't make the throws he should be able to make as a QB. He looked jittery and unsure in the pocket. Gray throughout the game was unable to assert himself as the confident leader the offense needs.
There was, however, a bright spot in that mess of a game. His name is Max Shortell. While he may have thrown the interception that maybe cost the Gophers the game, he also picked apart the USC defense. Something that Gray wasn't able to do in 3 quarters of play. This kid came in and showed he might be very very underrated. In two series he threw for 90+ yards and marched the gophers downfield and right through USC' s defense. This kid is what gives me hope that the maroon and gold may be able to crawl from the depths of the Big Ten and again become respectable.
So here's to the Gophers. May Jerry Kill make the right decision and let Gray be another target on the field for Max Shortell to throw to.