Loss to Iowa in the rearview, Gophers trying to rebound quickly
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The sting from a bluntly disheartening loss to Iowa has subsided to where Jerry Kill and the Minnesota Gophers have moved on.
That mindset was reflected in the mood at the Gophers' practice facility on Tuesday. Instead of a team reeling after a one-sided defeat in a coveted rivalry game, wrought by glaring offensive woes and struggles slowing Iowa's ground attack, the Gophers have already zeroed in on another trophy game.
A trip to No. 19-ranked Michigan's Big House, where Minnesota (4-1) is winless 10 of its last 11 visits, is not exactly a prime scenario for a squad trying to quickly avoid the benefits of a 4-0 start being sorely diminished by the brunt of Big Ten play.
But the prospect of a win to reclaim the Little Brown Jug from the Wolverines, no matter the slim odds Vegas bookies (19.5 point underdogs) or other followers have given them, is serving as the Gophers' main line of motivation in their last game before a one-week bye.
"We took a step back on Saturday, but that happens. Now we need to take two steps forward," Kill said Tuesday at his weekly press conference
"Everywhere I've been we've pulled out a game that we weren't supposed to pull and that has kind of flipped the program. I can't tell you if that's this week or next week, but sooner or later those things happen."
Minnesota's critical task entering a grueling three-game stretch -- Michigan, Northwestern and Nebraska -- is to resuscitate an offense that was suffocated by Iowa, held to seven points and 30 rushing yards. Add to that, periodic breakdowns defensively countering Iowa's grinding offense and the result was a significant blow to the perceived forward progress made by the Gophers in the first four weeks.
Kill attributed the problems to a breakdown in fundamentals, brought on in part by the Gophers getting caught up in the moment of highly anticipated homecoming match-up with a border rival.
"I think they were so excited about playing, with the crowd and all of that, that played fundamentally out of control half the time," Kill said. "We lost it mentally a little bit. Not starstruck so much as we just played so darn hard that we played out of control. We didn't play with any fundamentals."
It won't get any easier, with a hostile crew of 100,000-plus Maize and Gold clad fans set to greet them on Saturday.
However, an upset wibn, which would more than qualify for the "signature victory" Kill's tenure has lacked, would go a long ways in tempering the setback of falling flat against the Hawkeyes.
Junior safety Cedric Thompson reflects that attitude, and is clearly not lacking in confidence.
"When we win, it's definitely something that can be erased (from memory), but we wanted that pig real bad," Thompson said. "There's nothing like beating Iowa. But then again, once we beat Michigan it will be a really good feeling as well and help us get off the pain from losing to Iowa."