Rapid Reaction: Minnesota 20, Northwestern 17

John Paschall, Assistant Gameday Editor

What went right:

Redshirt freshman Stephen Buckley showed some nice flashes of playmaking ability on the Wildcats’ first scoring drive. With Venric Mark sidelined, Buckley has to be the speedy running back the offense needs to get moving down the field.

The defense stopped the Gophers from establishing many long drives, and for the most part held up on third down.

What went wrong:

Junior quarterback Trevor Siemian looked nervous in the pocket. His accuracy increased slightly after last week’s troublesome performance, but there’s still a ton of room for improvement.

On his two interceptions, Siemian didn’t seem to even see the defender in the way. He must improve his precision if the Cats offense is going to move the ball without senior quarterback Kain Colter.

The defense really struggled trying to bring down the Golden Gophers’ running backs. Too many arm tackle attempts resulted in numerous broken tackles and extra yardage. It’s clearly evident that the Cats miss junior defensive tackle Sean McEvilly, who was arguably the defense’s best run stopper.

The offensive line continued to spring a few leaks in pass protection and couldn’t get the run game going in the second half. During the week, the unit talked a lot about balance on offense, but the Cats could not get over the 100-yard rushing mark again.

What it means:

Blame it on injuries. Blame it on play calling. Blame it on whatever you want, but it’s clear NU is struggling.

The absences of Mark, Colter and McEvilly don’t help, but there’s too much talent on this team to lose a game like this to Minnesota. The Cats’ chances of winning the Legends division are on life support after today. NU will need help, and lots of it, if it has any chance of making it to the Big Ten Championship game.

Ultimately, this team isn’t as good as we thought it was.

— John Paschall