The Gophers head into Saturday’s showdown with Iowa as one of the least penalized teams in the nation — and one of the best at limiting turnovers, too.
In four nonconference victories, the Gophers were penalized 10 times for 92 yards. They rank fourth in the nation in fewest penalty yards per game (23.0) behind Boston College, Navy and Tennessee.
With three turnovers, the Gophers are tied for fewest in the Big Ten with Illinois, which has played one fewer game. Iowa, for comparison, has committed seven turnovers and Michigan 12.
Coach Jerry Kill has said the secret to limiting penalties is “up-downs,” a drill players must do when they’re penalized in practice. This involves running in place and repeatedly dropping to the ground and getting up on the coach’s whistle. The same applies to turnovers.
“Any of those kinds of mistakes, it’s immediate discipline,” offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover said. “It’s like disciplining your child. And they know it, and it stops.”
But Limegrover senses an overall mindset change.
“I think these kids have taken a lot of pride in the fact that we have not been heavily penalized, and we have taken care of the football,” he said. “We’re talking to them all the time about it, and now that they’re doing it, they want to keep doing it.
“They like that positive feedback. I think these kids want to be known as a good team, and those are attributes of a good team.”
Tickets sold out
Saturday’s game is a sellout, with all 50,805 tickets at TCF Bank Stadium sold for the first time since last year’s Sept. 22 game against Syracuse. The Gophers announced an average attendance of 43,997 for this year’s nonconference games against UNLV, Western Illinois and San Jose State.
Fan of the band
Kill has raved about the atmosphere at home games this year, and he recently called marching band director Timothy Diem to say thanks.
“I just think they’ve done a great job,” said Kill, who spoke to the band during the preseason. “I talked to all the newcomers when they were coming in, and they only had a week or five days to learn all that stuff, and they learn it. They’re amazing to me.
“I think they were a difference in that [Western Illinois] game. They sound like 100,000 people when they start playing. That’s what college football’s all about.”
• Freshman running back Berkley Edwards, who suffered a high ankle sprain late in training camp, has returned to practice. But Kill said he might be redshirted..
• Chris Hawthorne missed two extra points in last week’s victory over San Jose State. After reviewing film, Kill said it came down to line protection. The Spartans blocked one kick and applied good pressure on the other miss.