Anyway, we're now past the halfway point in the season at 3-3 and totally defeated in conference play. Huzzah! I wasn't expecting a division title or anything this season, but, rightly or wrongly, I figured we'd be, at worst, 6-1 or 5-2 after the first seven, after which shit gets a lot more serious. Losses to both Maryland and a Purdue hadn't really entered the realm of the possible for me, but, such is the life we're married to with this team.
Since we all look forward to this time of year, I thought we could indulge in a little reminiscing of the highs and lows of the last seven weeks. It intuitively feels like there have been more lows than highs, but since I have absolutely no idea what I'm going to write until my fingers are moving, we'll only know at the end of the piece.
I think the highs would certainly include the Oregon State game. The offense, once it worked out the kinks, started moving like a tremendous machine on the ground and the defense smothered what we thought was an improved - though later proved to be hapless - Beaver offense. Our good juju continued the following week as we turned MTSU into a fine blue dust, now snortable in your favorite Northeast bar. Following that game, we had the #1 defense in the country and I had decided on a no-pants policy for the remainder of the season because we were going to the CFP. That bye week was the tits.
You'd probably have to include the 4th quarter against MSU as one of the better moments of the year as well. After a few weeks of what could diplomatically be called a listless offense, it was great to see the passing game come to life. I pray to my deity of choice that Croft gets the bulk of the reps this week (Aside - he's been volunteering his ass off this week at Loaves and Fishes. I wouldn't have guessed that would be a requisite part of taking over the starting job from Connor Rhoda, but, hey, whatever gets the job done), because blinding myself watching Rhoda Boat try to run the offense may have consequences outside of my Gopher football fandom.
What else? Uh, recruiting is going pretty well, as we're set to have the strongest class in at least the last seven years. Fleck and his wife seem to be nice people. Tyler Johnson has been fun to watch. That's about all I've got from the land of sweet beer and positivity.
Not a lot of low points, fortunately. Losing to Maryland was like having my face pulled off by a team of oxen, but I felt a lot better about that after we lost to Purdue the following week. You occasionally hear horror stories of people jumping from airplanes and the wind blows them into an alligator pit. Losing to Purdue was like that, except some mysterious cosmic force slowly turned your whole body inside out right before you were chomped by the gators.
Injuries in the secondary have hurt my feelings quite a bit too. I'm not sure if God or our Gods are angry as a matter of course, but it certainly seems like last year's traingate may require a blood sacrifice of some sort to make amends, lest our remaining DBs be consumed by locusts. We weren't feeling great about it at the time, but losing TWAN was more or less the season for us. He's our best and most versatile defensive player and we've got no one in that group that can play the run as well as him, particularly on stretch plays and sweeps (see Scott, LJ aka King Suspendo License). Then Creighton and Thomas and, bang, we're starting a dude who had reconstructive knee surgery earlier this year. I'm convinced that teams aren't passing on us only because running on us is so damned easy. Feels good like black tar heroin in my veins.
Should we talk about the offensive line? Why not! They've done a great job in pass protection, but have been a bit of a poo streak in run blocking. They've certainly faced their share of stacked fronts, and Rhoda's unwillingness/instructions not to ever keep on the read doesn't help their situation much. What's terrifying is that we're praying they go Iron Five the rest of the way, because there's zero with respect to depth at any of the positions remaining. Again, while we are getting his image tattooed above our hearts this weekend, true freshman Blaise of Steel Andries is backing up both tackle positions. I believe the appropriate term of art for that sort of situation is "welp."
That's probably enough, yeah? I'm trying not to think too hard about the fact that we're sitting at .500 and, after tomorrow, the easy part of our schedule is over. I really do believe there's enough talent on the team to get us to bowl eligibility - the team needs them extra practices like this web site needs them #hitzzzz - but it's hard to see which games those are. Until we can stop the run, it's hard for me to believe we're going to beat Iowa, Michigan or Wisconsin, so Illinois, Nebraska and Northwestern? It's possible, I guess, but I'm going to need a lot more duster to be walking on that sunshine.