Just Now: Five takeaways as Minnesota Football collapses in a loss to…..

Gophers collapse late in 27-26 loss to Illinois – Twin Cities

It’s a story similar to one heard at Ryan Field in late September. Minnesota Football leads late in the fourth quarter, and their defense crumbles. The Gophers fall 27-26 to Bret Bielema for the ninth time in a row, this time against a backup quarterback who comes off the bench in a fourth-and-long situation. In my five takeaways from tonight’s game, there was lots of debate about important defensive miscues, Fleck’s conservative attitude showing up again, the offense not matching the Illini’s physicality, and much more.

Want the most recent Minnesota news sent to your inbox? You can sign up for the GopherIllustrated newsletter here. It’s free and a wonderful way to get daily information on Gopher football, basketball, recruiting, and other topics delivered to your inbox.

Gophers collapse late in 27-26 loss to Illinois – Twin Cities

1) The Minnesota defense imploded again in the fourth quarter.

After such a heartbreaking loss, everything should be on the table for criticism. But, without a doubt, Minnesota’s defense has to be the starting point. Which, for the second time this season, completely blows the game.

This defense had numerous opportunity to make another play. On 3rd-and-11, Anthony Smith and Danny Striggow combine for a sack on Luke Altmyer, and the ball bursts loose. The Gophers get close to the ball, but the Illini recover. More crucially, the collision knocks Illinois’ starting quarterback, Luke Altmyer, out of the game.

As a result, sixth-year senior John Paddock enters the game to take the most important snap at the time. There are 85 seconds left, and you aren’t up against a quarterback who hasn’t taken a snap since September and has only thrown 23 passes all season. Paddock flicks one into zone coverage for a first down on 4th-and-11, where playside corner Tre’Von Jones slips out of his break, or he’s there to make a play on the ball. Illini, you’re the first to go.

Then, two plays later, Minnesota’s defense had a “miscommunication,” as Tyler Nubin and Cody Lindenberg described it after the game, resulting in the Illini’s greatest player sliding through the middle of the defense for a 46-yard score.

Linebacker Cody Lindenberg transports slot receiver Isaiah Williams to the second level, and Paddock completes the pass. The issue stems from how Tyler Nubin, Minnesota’s best linebacker and best safety, gets mixed up somehow. Nubin can’t let Williams get in his way, but here we are.

It’s unforgivable, especially given that it’s your two greatest defensive players. I’m not sure about the precise defensive call there, but even asking a linebacker to cover Isaiah Williams in that scenario appears egregious. The safety was clearly not intended to let the receiver get behind him, but he did. That’s how an ice-cold backup quarterback melts your defense.

But that is also the day’s tale for Fleck’s defense. They were either extremely hot or extremely cold. They were inconsistent, particularly early in the game. They give up two red zone touchdowns early in the game when the back seven fails to execute their zone coverage drops and the Illini pass-catcher sits in a susceptible place for easy scores.

Your finest defensive man takes a bad angle on a swing pass, and the running back hauls it in for 54 yards.

Then, courtesy to one of Jah Joyner’s best performances as a Gopher, you force a fumble. Late in the fourth quarter, Cody Lindenberg punches out the ball with his right hand. Tyler Nubin plays center field and intercepts a pass.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.