Aggressiveness by U on the road gets rewarded

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 10, 2012 - 11:14 PM
hide

Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase is tackled by Minnesota defensive back Troy Stoudermire

Photo: Seth Perlman, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Jerry Kill had never won a Big Ten road game before, and he was intent upon changing that Saturday. So he displayed a what-the-heck willingness to take a few risks, particularly on fourth down, in order to secure it.

Even after his offense had failed, for the third time in two weeks, to reach the end zone after having a first-and-goal situation inside the Illinois 5-yard line, Kill showed no hesitation about trusting his short-yardage offense in the second half. With the score tied 3-3 and facing fourth-and-inches from the Illini 16, Kill called for a quarterback sneak, when a chip-shot field goal would have given the Gophers the lead.

"You feel like, you're on the road, [it's] 6 inches -- if you can't make that, you probably don't deserve to win," Kill said. Philip Nelson plunged into the line, fullback Mike Henry shoved him from behind, and the Gophers' drive kept going. Donnell Kirkwood scored from 3 yards out three plays later.

In the fourth quarter, the situation was reversed. Illinois was on the Gophers 35, trailing 10-3 with just over five minutes to play and facing fourth-and-4. Again, Kill gambled, sending safety Derrick Wells and linebacker Aaron Hill on a blitz and leaving the rest of his secondary to play one-on-one coverage.

"You can sit back and try to keep the ball in front of you and tackle it, or you can go get it, get pressure on it," Kill said. "I've been with these [coaches] on our offensive and defensive staff for a long time. I think we all understand when you're on the road, let's go make something happen."

Once more, they did. Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase was rushed into passing the ball, and his throw to receiver Darius Millines about 10 yards downfield was knocked away by cornerback Troy Stoudermire, handing the ball to the Gophers.

"Huge play. Troy basically was on an island there," linebacker Mike Rallis said. "But he was put in a position to make a play there, and he made it."

Next center up

Backup center Zach Mottla was carried off the field on a cart during the fourth quarter, and Kill said the injury appears serious.

"Just going out there, he's in a lot of pain," the coach said. "He's a tough, tough kid -- he got up and walked [to the cart]. He'd have found a way to play."

Kill said he didn't know the specifics, other than it's a leg injury.

Mottla was the second Gophers center to be hurt Saturday. Starter Jon Christenson suffered a high ankle sprain on his left foot during the first half and didn't return. When Mottla was injured, guard Zac Epping moved to center, with Joe Bjorklund moving into Epping's spot.

"Thank God we snapped Zac Epping early in the year and played him in the first game," said Kill, who added he had never before used three centers in one game. "We're going to have to train somebody" for next week.

Inside information

D.L. Wilhite moved into a tie for the Big Ten lead in sacks with Nebraska's Eric Martin at 7.5, and he had a little help from the Illini in doing it. As he lined up for a third-and-3 in the second quarter, the senior defensive end heard the tailback and right guard straightening out their assignments.

"The running back asked who he was supposed to block, and the tackle told him me," Wilhite said with a grin. "So I knew a cut block was coming. I knew all I had to do was beat the running back and it would be easy to get to the quarterback."

Etc.

• Saturday was the first time the Gophers have kept an opponent out of the end zone since a 17-6 victory over Purdue in 2008, and the fewest points allowed by Minnesota in a Big Ten game since a 45-0 shutout against Illinois in 2004.

• The game was played in a 20-miles-per-hour wind, which caused several kickoffs to sail far out of the end zone, and helped Gophers punter Christian Eldred average 43.3 yards on six punts. It's also why Kill chose not to try a field goal or punt on fourth-and-five from the Illini 32 in the fourth quarter. A pass from Nelson to Brandon Green fell incomplete.

  • GOPHERS NOTES

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

NY Yankees - LP: M. Pineda 0 FINAL
Toronto - WP: D. Hutchison 2
Detroit - LP: M. Scherzer 3 FINAL
Chicago WSox - WP: C. Sale 6
Chicago Cubs - WP: F. Doubront 5 FINAL
St. Louis - LP: J. Masterson 1
Cincinnati - LP: A. Simon 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: V. Worley 3
Minnesota 0 Top 1st Inning
Baltimore 0
Philadelphia 0 Bottom 1st Inning
NY Mets 0
Miami 1 Top 1st Inning
Atlanta 0
Boston 0 Delayed
Tampa Bay 0
Cleveland 0 Top 1st Inning
Kansas City 0
Detroit 0 Top 1st Inning
Chicago WSox 0
Texas 0 Top 1st Inning
Houston 0
Colorado - T. Matzek 7:10 PM
Arizona - V. Nuno
Chicago Cubs - T. Wada 7:15 PM
St. Louis - M. Gonzales
Los Angeles - Z. Greinke 7:40 PM
San Diego - I. Kennedy
Milwaukee - M. Fiers 8:05 PM
San Francisco - J. Peavy
Oakland - J. Samardzija 8:05 PM
LA Angels - C. Rasmus
Washington - S. Strasburg 8:10 PM
Seattle - R. Elias
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
BYU 35 FINAL
Connecticut 10
(6) Jacksonville St 7 FINAL
(8) Michigan State 45
Bowling Green 31 FINAL
Western Ky 59
TX-San Antonio 27 FINAL
Houston 7
Colorado State 31 FINAL
Colorado 17
UNLV 13 FINAL
Arizona 58
Penn State 26 FINAL
UCF 24
Troy 10 FINAL
UAB 48
(7) UCLA 28 FINAL
Virginia 20
Western Mich 34 FINAL
Purdue 43
(5) Ohio State 34 FINAL
Navy 17
Appalachian St 14 FINAL
Michigan 52
Ga Southern 23 FINAL
NC State 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Massachusetts 7
West Virginia 23 FINAL
(2) Alabama 33
Rice 17 FINAL
(17) Notre Dame 48
(10) South Dakota St 18 FINAL
(24) Missouri 38
Fla Atlantic 7 FINAL
(22) Nebraska 55
California 31 FINAL
Northwestern 24
Marshall 42 4th Qtr 1:32
Miami-Ohio 27
UC Davis 0 FINAL
(11) Stanford 45
Arkansas 21 Delayed 9:55
(6) Auburn 38
(16) Clemson 21 2nd Qtr 1:45
(12) Georgia 21
Liberty 7 2nd Qtr 6:34
(23) North Carolina 14
Ohio U 14 2nd Qtr 2:54
Kent State 7
Louisiana Tech 0 1st Qtr 11:45
(4) Oklahoma 0
Stephen F Austin 0 1st Qtr 13:04
(20) Kansas State 0
Fresno State 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 6:30 PM
Miss State
Idaho 6:33 PM
Florida
Texas-El Paso 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 7:00 PM
Texas
(1) Florida State 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
SMU 9/6/14 11:00 AM
North Texas
Fla Atlantic 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Army
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Toledo
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
(8) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(22) Nebraska
Central Mich 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Akron 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Western Ill 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(14) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
(4) Oklahoma 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tulsa
Western Ky 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
SC State 9/6/14 11:30 AM
(16) Clemson
Navy 9/6/14 12:00 PM
Temple
UAB 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Miss State
South Alabama 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Kent State
New Mexico St 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Fresno State 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Utah
(1) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
(25) Washington
(15) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(11) Stanford
Ohio U 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Middle Tennessee 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Northern Ill 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Missouri State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Ball State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Iowa
Maryland 9/6/14 2:30 PM
So Florida
Eastern Mich 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Florida
Georgia Tech 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Tulane
(18) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Vanderbilt
Old Dominion 9/6/14 5:00 PM
NC State
(8) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(19) Arizona State 9/6/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico
Louisiana Tech 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
San Jose St 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(6) Auburn
East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Duke 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Troy
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(17) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(13) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(21) Texas A&M
Northwestern St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Citadel 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(1) Florida State
San Diego St 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(5) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(7) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Texas Tech 9/6/14 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Colorado 0 FINAL
Seattle 1
New England 3 FINAL
Toronto FC 0
Columbus 6:30 PM
Montreal
FC Dallas 7:30 PM
Chicago
Real Salt Lake 9:30 PM
San Jose
Portland 9:30 PM
Vancouver FC
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Winnipeg
Chicago 4 1st Qtr 6:55
Indiana 8
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 pm
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pm
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. TBA
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: Grade the Gophers in their season opener

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close