SoP Q-and-A: @JDMill discusses cuteness, Marqueis Gray vs. Max Shortell, Minnesota football

Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

JDMill of Minnesota blog The Daily Gopher came over here to talk about his team's starting QB's, the season so far, and dodges questions about the adorable little chipmunk his school calls a mascot.

We're too lazy to actually go ahead and learn anything about other teams, so we bring in people who know stuff about those teams so we don't have to sound like complete blowhards.

Today: JDMill from The Daily Gopher.

SoP: MarQueis Gray is still out, or maybe not out, or who even knows at this point. How is Max Shortell doing as his replacement?

Max has his moments. He's a much better and more accurate pocket passer than MarQueis, but he certainly can't do the things that Q can do with his feet. As a sophomore who didn't have a redshirt season he's probably about where you'd expect. Fills in well, can make the throws and doesn't make a lot of mistakes. He came in against Western Michigan and threw 3 TD's, based probably on the fact that his game is completely different than Q's and they weren't ready for him. Having said all of that, the game he played against Syracuse is probably more indicative of who we can expect. He put up serviceable numbers (16/30, 231 yards, no TD's), but he also didn't make any mistakes that cost us.

Who would you rather have starting?

I'd like to have Max's pocket presence and accuracy starting along with Gray's ability to extend the pocket and gain yards rushing.

Minnesota was 4-0 and riding high after the non-con, then dropped a snoozer in the Floyd of Rosedale game with Iowa. Did that surprise you? What went wrong in that game that hadn't been going wrong beforehand?

The fact that the Iowa blew the doors off of our defense so early is what surprised me. Essentially what went wrong that hadn't been going wrong is the Gophers gave up some big plays and got behind, which hadn't really happened yet. Once that happened we learned pretty quickly that this offense, especially with Max Shortell at the helm, isn't equipped to come from behind. We had major concerns going into that game that we would have trouble stopping a tackle-to-tackle power running game, and Mark Weisman proved that to be true. I still contend that if you look at the game as a whole, the Gopher defense played decent against Iowa, but the 2nd quarter (when Iowa put up 21 of its 24 offensive points) absolutely crippled us.

You guys squeaked out some close games earlier this year. Was that playing down to the opposition, or are those good teams, or something else? How do you explain those tight affairs?

This could be biased homerism, but they weren't all as tight as the scores make them look.
UNLV was weird. It was a late Thursday night game on the road. Gray was horribly inaccurate and we just couldn't generate points despite completely dominating the stats. We needed 3 OT's to beat a bad team and we were all nervous. Having said that, the UNLV game is precisely the kind of game this program would have lost the past two years.
The next week we dominated New Hampshire like a B1G team should do to an FCS team.
Western Michigan was the game where MarQueis went down with his injury and Max came in during the 2nd quarter. The Gophers were up 21-10 at halftime and 28-17 after 3 quarters. The defense gave up a 4th Q TD with about 5 minutes left in the game to make it close, but prior to that TD, it never seemed like WMU was close to really being within striking distance of a win.
Syracuse is a game that we won by a TD, but we really dominated from a defensive perspective. Syracuse, as I am sure you will remember, put up 41 points on you guys, got a FG in the first quarter, and then couldn't manage another score until they got a TD with just :46 left in the game.

Would you say that you have the most adorable mascot in the Big Ten? The nation?

You ask that question like it's a bad thing.

Who ya got in Saturday's game?

I'm saying Gophers in a close one. I think our defense matches up better with NWestern than we did with Iowa, but I think the Wildcats will still manage to move the ball fairly consistently. Our defense does enough to keep us in the game and our offense wakes up a bit at home after a week off. Gophers win 27-24.

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