Kirkwood's power running is earning him steady work

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 15, 2012 - 8:04 PM
hide

Minnesota running back Donnell Kirkwood

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

When Donnell Kirkwood took handoffs in the fourth quarter Saturday, he was surrounded by beef. Five offensive linemen, three tight ends, and a halfback all lined up around him.

You need that much help, Donnell?

"Power football -- I love it," the sophomore tailback said. "My O-line loves it. When coach calls that formation, you see them smile from ear to ear."

Everyone was smiling about Kirkwood's performance against Western Michigan. He took a career-high 23 handoffs, and turned them into the first 100-yard game of his career. He finished with 110 yards -- 84 after halftime -- and did it in his usual bruising style. He broke off one gain of 26 yards but otherwise pounded the line for 3 yards, 4 yards, 5 yards.

"He had to step up," Gophers coach Jerry Kill said. "He got us out of tough field position. He played hard, and we needed him to."

Kirkwood, one of a quartet of potential starters on opening night, seems to have locked up his spot atop the depth chart with three solid games. "It feels good. It feels good because [it means] I'm doing something right in practice and off the field as well," Kirkwood said.

The only bad part of his day was a third-and-1 carry in the fourth quarter, a play the Broncos sniffed out and stopped for a 3-yard loss. But the Gophers survived, thanks to their defense. And some big guys up front.

Speed challenge

Western Michigan's spread offense calls for players to be shuffled in and out quickly, and while the rules say the defense must be provided reasonable time to make its own adjustments, the definition of "reasonable" is left up to the officials.

Kill complained several times that his defense didn't have time to get substitutes on and off the field. At one point, it cost the Gophers: A fourth-down stop for no gain by linebacker Spencer Reeves was overturned by the replay official, who discovered that the Gophers had 12 men on the field.

"My frustration was, give us time to match up the personnel," Kill said. "They don't have to do that if they don't change personnel -- you can go, go, go. But if you change personnel, you have to give the defense time to set up. The official said, 'Coach, I'm giving you reasonable time.'"

Etc.

• The Gophers were without starting center Zach Mottla, injured during practice on Thursday. Right guard Zac Epping moved into Mottla's spot, and sophomore Caleb Bak took over Epping's role. Freshman receiver Andre McDonald also did not play for a second consecutive week, after suffering an infected leg in Las Vegas two weeks ago. Cornerback Martez Shabazz was held out with an undisclosed injury. Kill said linebacker Lamonte Edwards and receiver Devin Crawford-Tufts were injured during the game, but he did not have updates on their condition.

• Reeves wore No. 51 on Saturday, the jersey of late linebacker Gary Tinsley.

• Defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman appeared to make an athletic interception, but it was overturned on replay. "I just saw the ball and had to go for it," Hageman said of his grab of a deflection.

• The BTN broadcast was interrupted by technical difficulties for several minutes in the first quarter, and viewers missed the Gophers' first touchdown. But Dish Network subscribers didn't see the game at all; negotiations between the network and Dish on payment for carriage broke down, blacking out the channel.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Toronto - LP: M. Stroman 2 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: W. Chen 5
Washington - WP: S. Strasburg 4 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: E. Santana 2
Miami - WP: S. Dyson 6 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: J. Familia 5
NY Yankees - LP: S. Kelley 0 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: J. Peralta 1
Cincinnati - LP: P. Villarreal 0 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: H. Rondon 1
Chicago WSox - LP: J. Petricka 3 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: W. Davis 4
Cleveland - LP: Z. McAllister 1 FINAL
Houston - WP: C. McHugh 3
Detroit - WP: K. Ryan 8 FINAL
Minnesota - LP: C. Fien 6
Los Angeles - WP: J. Wright 11 FINAL
Colorado - LP: C. Bergman 3
San Francisco - LP: R. Vogelsong 2 FINAL
Arizona - WP: W. Miley 6
Seattle - LP: H. Iwakuma 1 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: M. Shoemaker 8
Philadelphia - LP: J. Williams 0 FINAL
San Diego - WP: A. Cashner 1
Philadelphia 30 FINAL
Indianapolis 27
Tampa Bay 9/18/14 7:25 PM
Atlanta
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
(5) Auburn 9/18/14 6:30 PM
(20) Kansas State
Connecticut 9/19/14 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Toronto 9/19/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Edmonton 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.
Sep 27 - at Michigan TBA
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern TBA
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close