Gophers prep for downtrodden Northwestern after ‘failing’ at UNC

P.J. Fleck describes the Gophers football team as a developmental program, one in which players take incremental steps toward improvement and ultimately success. Going hand in hand with the emphasis on development is another Fleck tenet: Failure means growth.

“You’ve got to go through the failing,” the Gophers coach said Monday. “There’s a step of being a developmental program. You cannot skip failing. I’m not talking about spring-game failing. I’m talking about live game reps. Failing is the only way you grow.”

Fleck and the Gophers will find out if the failings of last weekend’s 31-13 loss at then-No. 20 North Carolina result in growth on Saturday night at Northwestern as Minnesota (2-1, 1-0) returns to Big Ten play against the Wildcats (1-2, 0-1).

There’s a lot with which to work in the failure/growth category stemming from the result in Chapel Hill.

The Gophers watched the Tar Heels rain down big plays of 46, 55 and 39 yards on their way to building first-half leads of 14-0 and 21-3. Minnesota, meanwhile, mustered only one touchdown for the second time in three games. The Gophers converted two North Carolina turnovers to only three points, and when they trailed 21-13 in the third quarter with the ball at the Tar Heels 34-yard line, backup quarterback Cole Kramer, in for cramping starter Athan Kaliakmanis, promptly threw a first-down interception.

“There’s a lot of things that we could have done way better to make it a better football game on our end, and all you have to do is execute,” Fleck said. “I think our players saw that on film, and that’s what’s really hopeful.”

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On Saturday in Evanston, Ill., the Gophers won’t be facing a top 20 team riding high behind a quarterback like North Carolina’s Drake Maye. They’ll meet a downtrodden Northwestern team that’s trying to…

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Author : Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

Publish date : 2023-09-18 23:33:00

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