Snap Reactions: Are Gophers better off with Shortell?

Wrapping up today’s action, Minnesota held off Syracuse, 17-10, and Louisiana Tech dropped Illinois, 52-24. As he’s done all day, BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart offers his thoughts and analysis from the action under the lights in this post. See his early game thoughts and afternoon thoughts.

Minnesota 17, Syracuse 10
1. The Gopher defense looks legit. The unit faced a Syracuse offense that ranked No. 3 in the nation in passing entering the game. But Minnesota responded. On this night, Syracuse had 350 yards but only 10 points, while Minnesota forced four turnovers.

2. I wonder if Minnesota would be better off with Max Shortell at quarterback? The offense is just more conventional and traditional. Yes, Shortell isn’t the athlete and runner that injured MarQueis Gray is. But Shortell is a better passer, which makes the Gopher running backs even better. Shortell hit 16-of-30 passes for 231 yards for an attack that notched 337 yards.

3. It will be a surprise if Minnesota doesn’t make its first bowl since 2009. This is one of the most surprising 4-0 teams in the nation. And it only is gaining confidence. A game with Iowa is next. And the Gophers have beaten the Hawkeyes the last two seasons.

Louisiana Tech 52, Illinois 24
1. Is there now a quarterback controversy? Nathan Scheelhaase came back from an ankle injury but was pulled in favor of Reilly O’Toole, who played pretty well. Now what? Which direction will Illinois go?

2. With Big Ten play set to begin, what will be Illinois’ mind-set coming off this loss? The Illini need to get dialed in with Penn State coming to town. And you have to think the Nittany Lions will be motivated to win after the Illini coaches aggressively pursued Penn State players to transfer in the offseason.

3. Is the Illinois defense good? The unit has been ripped twice, giving up 510 yards and 45 points at Arizona State and 402 yards and 52 points vs. Louisiana Tech tonight. The good news: Illinois won’t face any more offense likes ASU’s or La Tech’s. No doubt, the Illini were hurt by six turnovers. Still, the defense must play better, too.

BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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1 Comment

Your Opinion?
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aroznowski on 9/23/2012 @ 12:11am EST Said:

If Max Shortell keeps playing this well for the Gophers, MarQueis Gray might be best as a running back-wide receiver hybrid like Percy Harvin when he comes back from injury.