2. KEYS TO THE SEASON
Biggest Key To The Minnesota Offense
Stop fumbling the ball, and always score when the opportunities are there. The fumbles slowed down late in the season, but the Gophers lost the ball at least once over a stretch of eight games in nine. When they turned it over on the ground two times or more, the team was 0-4.
The O has to also get a whole lot better in the red zone – a problem so far in the PJ Fleck era – it came away empty on 11 of the 59 trips inside the 20. That didn’t turn out to be a problem in any close losses – there weren’t any – but losing even one game this year if there’s a missed chance or two could be devastating.
Biggest Key To The Minnesota Defense
Consistency, consistency, consistency, and that starts with the run defense that should get a whole lot of help from the linebackers, but needs the tackles to rise up and rock right away. The Gophers were able to stuff Wisconsin for 170 yards, and they held down the Georgia Tech option attack – relatively speaking – but they were hammered by Illinois for 430 yards, couldn’t stop Nebraska, and got ripped apart for 315 yards by Maryland. Under Fleck, Minnesota is 8-0 when holding running games to under 92 yards.
Key Player To A Successful Season
DT Micah Dew-Treadway, Sr.
The 6-4, 300-pound Notre Dame transfer gets two years with the Gophers, and it’ll be up to him to make the interior of the defensive front his own. He saw a little bit of time with the Irish, but was never able to do much after suffering a foot injury early on in his career. He’s got the quickness, the size, and the opportunity to be a force along with 305-pound sophomore Jamaal Teague and 270-pound senior Sam Renner.
Key Game To The Minnesota Season
at Iowa, Nov. 16
With Penn State the opening game in November, a trip to Northwestern over Thanksgiving weekend, and an angry Wisconsin team to deal with – after giving up the Paul Bunyan Axe in an ugly loss last year – at the end of the regular season, coming through against Iowa could be for Minnesota’s season survival.
It’s been an ugly run with three straight losses in the series and five in the last six. Iowa will be coming off a trip to Wisconsin, and at this point, it’s likely that the loser of this game will be knocked out of any hope of winning the Big Ten West.
– Minnesota Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
2018 Minnesota Fun Stats
– Minnesota 1st Quarter Scoring: 65 – 2nd Quarter Scoring 136
– Time of Possession: Minnesota 32:09 – Opponents 27:51
– Punt Return Average: Minnesota 22.2 yards – Opponents 1.1 yards