Gophers are doing what's needed

  • Updated: September 9, 2013 - 1:23 AM

Minnesota crushed overmatched opponents, but they did learn things about their depth and discipline.

Following Saturday night’s 44-21 victory at New Mexico State, the Gophers bused to El Paso International Airport, flew back to the Twin Cities and returned to the Bierman facility about 4:30 a.m.

They were bleary-eyed and far from satisfied, but it felt good to be 2-0.

The victories have come against two teams that are a combined 13-66 over the past four seasons. UNLV followed its season-opening loss at Minnesota by getting pummeled 58-13 at home against Arizona on Saturday. And before playing the Gophers, New Mexico State suffered a 56-7 defeat at Texas.

But the Gophers did what they had to do against both opponents, winning by an average of 25.5 points. They have amassed 40 points in back-to-back weeks for the first time since 2007, and they scored touchdowns in each game on offense, defense and special teams.

They played both games in severe heat and showed good discipline each night, committing five penalties and two turnovers combined.

“If we continue that type of football, that’s the formula to success,” coach Jerry Kill said Sunday.

At New Mexico State, the Gophers proved they could win in a foreign environment, although Aggie Memorial Stadium had about 99,000 fewer fans than Michigan holds in the Big House, site of Minnesota’s next road game, on Oct. 5.

Before then, the Gophers have home games against Western Illinois, San Jose State and Iowa. They’ll know more about themselves after that stretch, but here are a few other things we’ve already learned:

• They have much-needed depth at running back and cornerback. Two top running backs, Donnell Kirkwood and Berkley Edwards, have sprained ankles, but Rodrick Williams (8.1 yards per carry) and David Cobb (8.3) have kept the offense moving.

The team’s top cornerback, Derrick Wells, missed the first game because of a hamstring injury and came off the bench without making a tackle Saturday. His replacement, Briean Boddy-Calhoun, twisted a knee against New Mexico State and the team was awaiting his MRI results.

“[The medical staff] seemed to think he’d be back in a couple weeks, but you never know with those things,” Kill said.

Meantime, Martez Shabazz and Marcus Jones have helped fill the cornerback holes, racking up six tackles apiece.

• Speaking of Jones, he has emerged as a weapon on returns. Fully healed after major surgery to both knees, he had a 98-yard kickoff return touchdown against UNLV and added a 65-yard punt return touchdown Saturday.

“He plays bigger than what he is,” Kill said of the 5-8, 166-pound Jones. “He’s a good football player.”

• Their two junior college transfers at linebacker are learning fast. Damien Wilson and De’Vondre Campbell had eight tackles apiece Saturday, tying for second most on the team behind Aaron Hill.

• They are going to run their quarterbacks as much as the defense lets them. Nelson leads the team in rushing attempts (27), rushing yards (205) and rushing touchdowns (three), and the Gophers kept running him Saturday, even after he dinged his right shoulder.

The Gophers run a basic zone-read play, which enables Nelson to read the outside defender before deciding whether to hand off the ball or keep it. UNLV and New Mexico State seemed to have no answer.

“That’s the play that we were able to gash [New Mexico State] with a whole bunch,” Nelson said. “They had a tough time figuring that one out, so I knew right away we were going to continue calling that.”

  • related content

  • Sunday Gophers update: Defensive end Keith injures hand

    Sunday September 8, 2013

    Defensive end Alex Keith, who has seven tackles through two games, might have broken his hand in Saturday's 44-21 victory at New Mexico State, Gophers football coach Jerry Kill said.

  • Gophers football replay

    Sunday September 8, 2013

    GOPHERS 44, NEW MEXICO STATE 21The recap: Leading 3-0 after one quarter, the Gophers got rushing touchdowns from David Cobb...

  • Quarterback Philip Nelson leads the Gophers in rushing attempts (27), yards (205) and touchdowns (three) through their first two games.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

San Francisco 5 Top 7th Inning
Kansas City 0
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Houston 83 4th Qtr 0:34
Miami 88
Indiana 89 FINAL
Minnesota 107
Utah 105 FINAL
Oklahoma City 91
Portland 66 3rd Qtr 7:06
Denver 44
Phoenix 24 2nd Qtr
LA Lakers 17
LA Clippers 9:30 PM
Golden State
San Jose 3 FINAL
Boston 5
NY Rangers 4 FINAL(OT)
New Jersey 3
Toronto 5 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
Detroit 1 FINAL(OT)
Montreal 2
Arizona 3 3rd Prd 2:47
Nashville 3
Carolina 1 3rd Prd 3:22
Winnipeg 3
Philadelphia 0 3rd Prd
Chicago 3
Vancouver 2 3rd Prd 16:20
Dallas 6
Florida 2 2nd Prd 5:19
Colorado 3
Tampa Bay 0 2nd Prd :34
Calgary 0
Arkansas State 23 3rd Qtr 8:31
Louisiana 34
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Are you happy to see the Royals in the World Series?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close