What's wrong with the Minnesota Gophers?

Based on how I've felt watching my Gophers play this season and how many times I've wanted to walk out of The Bank or turn off the TV, I can't imagine that those of you who aren't Gopher fans have spent too much time watching Gopher Football this season.

Actually, to be fair, even those of  you who do consider yourselves Gopher fans may not have spent too much time watching Gopher football this season.

So if you're only exposure to the maroon & gold this season is scoreboard and standings watching, you've probably asked yourself "Just what the hell is wrong with the Gophers?"

As painful as it is for me to rehash all of this, I'm glad you asked.

In a word, defense.  

Our defense is young, inexperienced, and poor at tackling... actually, poor would be a compliment.

We have almost no pass rush, the only time that we can get any pressure on opposing QB's is when we blitz, and that's a pretty scary proposition when our cornerbacks struggle mightily in man-to-man coverage.  

Zone is the answer, right?  Wrong.  So far opposing QB's have had no problem finding the seams in our zone and throwing to wide open receivers.

And then, once those receivers catch the ball, we aren't very good are pretty freaking bad at tackling.

Now, I know what you are saying, FIRE TIM BREWSTER!!!... if those players on defense are as talented as Tim Brewster said they were, then shouldn't his staff be able to coach them up and begin to see some improvement in the secondary?

Well, now, isn't that the question of the year?

This is one of the most hotly discussed questions among those of us who are die-hard Gopher fans.  Is the talent just not as good as Tim Brewster told us they were, or is the talent truly better, but this coaching staff just doesn't know what to do with them?

I'm yet to find anyone who believes that the latter isn't the bulk of the problem, even though most of us fully believe that the former is also an issue.

I'm not going to spend any time bashing Brewster and his staff here.  Bashing Tim Brewster is a waste, it's obvious, and I'll leave it to everyone else.

So let's go back to that problem of the defense, because the problems with the defense are also directly affecting the offense, or at least the perception of the offense.

On offense the Gophers are scoring just shy of 27 points per game, which considering our problems on offense last year is pretty acceptable.  The problem is that the Gophers are giving up over 30 pts/game on defense and while the offense has done a pretty good job of keeping games close, this isn't an offense that is built for shootouts.

This is an offense that is built for long, time-consuming drives that eat up lots of plays and take a lot of time off the clock.  The offense, with one of the largest offensive lines in the country, is built to run, to overpower the other team, and to wear them down as the game goes on.  The size of the offensive line should be ensuring victories at the end of games by allowing the run game to eat up clock.

Instead the offense has been forced to move away from its comfort zone late in games and put pressure on Adam Weber's arm.  Now look, Weber is much more comfortable in this offense, and he's having a good season doing what he does best: leading a balanced offense where he isn't expected to carry the load.  

But in each of our last 4 games (4 losses, all at home), we've gotten to a point where we need to lean on Adam Weber's arm to try to win the game.  This is not a good problem. As mentioned above our offense isn't built for this. Additionally, on a smaller scale, it's completely contrary to our game plan and means that our coaching staff is having to make adjustments mid-game... also not a good problem.

Add to this that Adam Weber still doesn't have the confidence to put up huge numbers and the fact that the coaching staff has been painfully slow and late in making these adjustments, and the offense just cannot get any rhythm late in games.

So yes, Tim Brewster is a problem.  Yes, Kevin Cosgrove is a problem.  But coaching aside (because I'm already tired of talking about it), the problem on the field is the defense.  The inability of the defense to stop anyone has forced the offense into situations that it isn't comfortable in or built for.

I still believe that this is a talented group of players who are plagued by rookie mistakes, but let's be honest.  At the end of the day, isn't that also a coaching issue?  

You're damn right it is.

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