Every Gophers soccer practice has a soundtrack.
As players stretched during their fourth season of sermon camp on Saturday, “The Next Episode” by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg played with speakers on their outdoor grounds. The rap song was released when they were little boys, they felt the vibe.
When the team later knelt for the brakes – aka a “pit stop” – the sounds of race cars zooming in were heard in the background.
Then for the duration of the exercise, the eardrums are torn apart by the sound of the squeaking of the pigs. It was time for “pig pens”.
“You know what’s going on, but you have to move on,” said Micah Du-Tradeway as he tackled the Gopher’s nose. “You have to look at your keys and know who’s going to block you. That’s just the mindset, everything. It’s really an advantage. Teams that don’t do that, I’d recommend doing that.”
Over the years, the Gophers – with another period called “X Tough” – have maintained a practice focus on their top two rivalry trophies: with Floyd of Rosedale Iowa and with Paul Bunyan’s X Wisconsin.
Gophers head coach PJ Fleck said of the rivalry period, “I think you get what you insist on.” “…everything is going on in society and how hard it is to be a student-athlete… there has to be some fun too. It’s fun to play in those rivalry games. As we continue to go through this and more of this thing build, I want them to understand that the work they do will hopefully lead to whatever results they get.”
Fleck’s Gophers are 1-7 against the Hawkeye and Badgers since 2017. The U will get their next opportunities in November: The U travel to Iowa City’s Kinick Stadium on November 13, while the Wisconsin arrives at Huntington Bank Stadium for the season finale November. 27.
“The teams we have a rivalry with are very physical; Very historic football teams, as well,” Fleck said. “So, it’s very important to have fun, but also understand that you’re doing that work for that specific rivalry that you continue to deposit in the bank. You’re going to have to get it back at some point. You’re sure There’s a lot to want to do.”
When the Gophers beat Wisconsin for the first time in 15 years at Camp Randall Stadium in 2018, the 37-15 win was aided by a 15-play, 12-run drive that took almost 10 minutes off the clock. Minnesota ran 47 times for 201 yards and three touchdowns in that game.
Gophers guard/Blaze Andries said the duration of the rivalry in practice prepares him for those big moments.
“It’s in the middle of practice,” he said. “Everybody’s tired. Everyone’s upset, but during a game in the fourth quarter at both Wisco and Auburn (after the 2019 season for Outback Bowl wins), we had to pound the ball and we had to get it down first and hit it.” Had to be able to. Just dominate up front. There’s a lot of emphasis on it.
“It’s our style of play: get it down their throat, and then throw it over their head when they’re not expecting it or when they bring too much into the box.”
This fall, the Gophers will have to prove they can keep their defenses honest. Top receiver Rashod Bateman was a first-round NFL draft pick, and there are other unproven options besides Chris Autman-Bell.
This means other teams will head to the race along one of the country’s most experienced offensive lines, paving the way for Mohamed Ibrahim, the 2020 Big Ten year behind.
“We know our potential,” Gophers guard/center Conner Olsson. “We’ve had great games. We’ve had terrible games in the form of the O-Line. The thing that I think apart from dominating the O-Lines from the great O-Lines is consistency across the board. We need to repeat. We should be like this in every game, regardless of who we go up against. If it’s Ohio State or if it’s my old high school, it doesn’t matter.”
Given Ibrahim’s success last season, he had a shot at entering the NFL draft, but said he knew he could return by the time the season ended with an overtime loss to Wisconsin. want to come
At the U’s Media Day last week, Ibrahim was asked whether the results of the past few years against the Badgers and the Hawkeyes played any role in his coming back. “Not really,” he said before adding, “you better leave things (when). … I thought it was a big deal for me.”
Beating Iowa and Wisconsin in 2021 will be a big deal for Minnesota. To beat both in the same year would be a big deal. This has not happened since 1990.