'D' crushes Orange

  • Article by: AMELIA RAYNO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 23, 2012 - 12:18 AM

Turnovers, sacks and relentless pressure are becoming the U norm.

The theme of the Gophers' defensive triumph over Syracuse on Saturday night was reiterated throughout the 17-10 win. But the tone was set on the first play of the game, when Orange quarterback Ryan Nassib's initial pass was intercepted. That's when it started.

It was one of four forced turnovers by Minnesota, which once again highlighted a vastly improved defense from a year ago, and a stunning turnaround from notoriously memorable Gophers defenses of the recent past. A year ago, Minnesota managed just nine takeaways through the entire season. This year? A different story, apparently.

"We're very confident now, and the coaches, they're more confident in us as well," said Michael Amaefula, who had a tackle, a sack and a fumble recovery on Saturday. "They're letting us go get 'em. We don't have to do as many stunts because we're getting so much pressure, they're like if we can send four, we can drop more back in coverage, go out there and play football, and that's when it gets real fun."

It looked just that for Minnesota's defense in front of a raucous home crowd, as the Gophers harassed Nassib all night, sacking him three times, and completely shut down dynamic receiver Marcus Sales, a senior who had netted at least 100 yards in Syracuse's first three games but made his first catch against the Gophers in the Orange's last drive of the game, when Syracuse scored its first touchdown.

A true team effort halted a team that had scored at least 28 points in its past three games and developed a reputation for a high-flying and efficient offense that came in averaging 533 yards a game. Two different players made interceptions; two more recovered fumbles; three others took down Nassib for a loss.

"If you can put pressure on the quarterback -- and we were able to do it with four people a lot of times -- and when you do that you've got a chance to play pretty good in the secondary," Gophers coach Jerry Kill said. "Part of it has to do with kids are familiar with what we're doing. I think we're doing a good job with disguising our secondary coverage, and we're doing some things defensively to keep the quarterback off-balance."

Perhaps there was no better example of the Gophers' pressure and defensive intensity than when facing the biggest threat from Syracuse, in the third quarter.

Facing an Orange first-and-goal from the 1-yard line, the Gophers defense stayed poised and systematically shut down the Orange's offense. Jerome Smith, taking a handoff, was met by a wall. On the next play, he was chased all the way to the sideline by Derrick Wells for a 3-yard loss. When Minnesota blitzed on the next play, the ball popped out of Nassib's hand on a hard hit by Brock Vereen and was intercepted by Aaron Hill.

"I feel after four games we have 10 times the confidence we had against UNLV," Vereen said. "It's just going to keep building and hopefully we keep winning."

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Team Irvin 32 FINAL
Team Carter 28
Miami 96 FINAL
Chicago 84
Oklahoma City 98 FINAL
Cleveland 108
Dallas 106 FINAL
New Orleans 109
Indiana 106 FINAL
Orlando 99
LA Clippers 120 FINAL
Phoenix 100
Minnesota 100 FINAL
Atlanta 112
Detroit 110 FINAL
Toronto 114
Milwaukee 95 FINAL
San Antonio 101
Boston 111 FINAL
Golden State 114
Washington 117 FINAL
Denver 115
Houston 99 FINAL
LA Lakers 87
Team Toews 17 FINAL
Team Foligno 12
South Florida 53 FINAL
Connecticut 66
Boston College 64 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Virginia 50 FINAL
Virginia Tech 47
Indiana 70 FINAL
Ohio State 82
Stony Brook 61 FINAL
Binghamton 54
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
UCF 46
Maine 70 FINAL
Hartford 61
Monmouth 64 FINAL
Manhattan 71
Fairfield 67 FINAL
Marist 73
Rowan 48 FINAL
Princeton 96
St Bonaventure 48 FINAL
Rhode Island 53
Duke 77 FINAL
St Johns 68
Saint Peters 69 FINAL
Siena 55
Drake 40 FINAL
Wichita State 74
Vermont 61 FINAL
UMass Lowell 50
Seton Hall 57 FINAL
Butler 77
NJIT 72 FINAL
South Alabama 55
Northern Iowa 54 FINAL
Illinois State 53
Louisville 80 FINAL
Pittsburgh 68
UMBC 55 FINAL
Albany 69
Niagara 64 FINAL
Iona 87
Notre Dame 81 FINAL
NC State 78
Belmont 63 FINAL
Tennessee St 55
Creighton 50 FINAL
Villanova 71
Northwestern 67 FINAL
Maryland 68
Washington 56 FINAL
Utah 77
Senior-North 34 FINAL
Senior-South 13
Seton Hall 99 FINAL
Georgetown 85
St Johns 69 FINAL
Villanova 81
Arkansas 58 FINAL
Florida 72
Maine 56 FINAL
UMBC 42
Vanderbilt 55 FINAL
Alabama 52
Lafayette 60 FINAL
Lehigh 65
UCF 61 FINAL
SMU 57
Utah 51 FINAL
Washington 63
James Madison 73 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 53
Delaware 56 FINAL
Drexel 61
Hofstra 56 FINAL
William & Mary 57
Hartford 58 FINAL
Albany 82
Binghamton 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Towson 63 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 71
Wake Forest 80 FINAL
(17) Florida State 110
Georgia Tech 68 FINAL
Virginia 62
(22) Georgia 51 FINAL
(5) Tennessee 59
Drake 79 FINAL
Evansville 62
Iona 80 FINAL
Canisius 62
Fairfield 33 FINAL
Monmouth 59
Northwestern 75 FINAL
Penn State 76
Wisconsin 71 FINAL
Michigan State 77
Ohio State 79 FINAL
Purdue 71
Northern Iowa 57 FINAL
Indiana State 55
Butler 58 FINAL
Xavier 54
Creighton 93 FINAL
Marquette 75
Providence 42 FINAL
DePaul 90
Northeastern 77 FINAL
Elon 80
(2) Connecticut 96 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Oregon 78 FINAL
Arizona 81
Bradley 46 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 45
NC State 49 FINAL
(23) Syracuse 66
(7) Maryland 84 FINAL
Indiana 74
Illinois State 35 FINAL
Missouri State 58
Colorado 68 FINAL
Washington St 73
Tulane 45 FINAL
South Florida 64
(14) Kentucky 83 FINAL
Missouri 69
(9) Oregon State 68 FINAL
(13) Arizona State 57
Vermont 63 FINAL
UMass Lowell 72
Iowa State 58 FINAL
(8) Texas 57
Southern Ill 61 FINAL
Wichita State 80
(15) Duke 74 FINAL
(12) North Carolina 67
Miami-Florida 55 FINAL
(4) Louisville 68
(21) Minnesota 61 FINAL
(25) Rutgers 66
California 72 FINAL
UCLA 57
(11) Stanford 71 FINAL
USC 60
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Do you favor the plan for expanded athletic facilities at the U of M?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close