The Call: Gophers at New Mexico State

  • Updated: September 7, 2013 - 4:04 PM
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Gophers coach Jerry Kill made his point during his team's 51-23 season-opening victory over UNLV on Thursday night at TCF Bank Stadium.

Photo: Andy Clayton-King, Associated Press

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THE OPPONENT

After finishing 1-11 last year, New Mexico State opened at Texas and trailed 7-7 late in the first half before losing 56-7.

7 p.m., Las Cruces, N.M. • TV: None live • Radio: 100.3-FM

Line: Gophers by 15 • Series: New Mexico State leads 1-0

Gophers offense vs. Aggies defense

Quarterback Philip Nelson completed only 45 percent of his passes last week, and the Gophers could have a hard time establishing the running game with Donnell Kirkwood and Berkley Edwards out because of ankle injuries. New Mexico State forced Texas into three turnovers last week after forcing only nine turnovers last season. Former Eden Prairie standout Willie Mobley starts at defensive end for the Aggies. Advantage: New Mexico State.

Aggies offense vs. Gophers defense

Like UNLV, New Mexico State will test the Gophers with a no-huddle offense. UNLV completed 35 passes last week, but most of those were short gains. Likewise, New Mexico State senior Andrew McDonald completed 32 passes against Texas — for 242 yards. The Gophers were disappointed to give up as many long running plays as they did against UNLV. Advantage: Gophers

Special teams

The Gophers scored two special teams TDs against UNLV, including a 98-yard kickoff return for Marcus Jones, who also had a key punt return that set up Minnesota’s go-ahead touchdown before halftime. Coach Jerry Kill generally was pleased with punter Peter Mortell and kicker Chris Hawthorne. Advantage: Gophers

Intangibles

The Aggies drew 25,211 last year against New Mexico, but every other home game brought crowds of fewer than 15,000. The forecast is for 87 degrees at kickoff. It’ll be the Gophers’ first time on natural grass since 2011 at Northwestern. Advantage: New Mexico State

Prediction

New Mexico State gave up four long touchdown passes to Texas quarterback David Ash last week, which bodes well for Nelson and his receivers. They’ll hit on some key passes, but the Gophers will owe this victory to their defense.

Gophers 24

New Mexico State 13

 

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