Treyson Potts scored the first touchdown of his Gophers career in the first quarter.
But he wasn’t able to add to that total after being carted off the sideline in the second quarter of the 41-14 win at Illinois with a lower-leg injury, per the Big Ten Network broadcast. The broadcast also reported Gophers coach P.J. Fleck was hopeful Potts could return in the second half, but Potts appeared on the sideline in street clothes with a boot on his right foot in the fourth quarter.
Potts had rushed three times for 49 yards, including a 36-yard gain and his 9-yard score. Fellow redshirt freshman Cam Wiley assumed the No. 2 running back spot, gaining 17 yards on his first carry.
But Mohamed Ibrahim remained the Gophers’ mainstay, rushing 30 times for 224 yards and four touchdowns. Ibrahim was the Big Ten Conference’s leading rusher entering the game.
The Gophers took the field without a couple of familiar faces, including defensive tackle Keonte Schad, out for undisclosed reasons. Schad often rotated in behind DeAngelo Carter, the starter at his position.
The defense also missed defensive coordinator Joe Rossi, out after testing positive for COVID-19 last week. Co-DC and safeties/defensive backs coach Joe Harasymiak called the game in his stead, relying upon his experience as a DC and head coach at Maine for five years before joining the Gophers. He was the FCS coach of the year in 2018, when he took the team to the FCS semifinals.
“This was a team effort on defense,” Fleck said. “… Our entire defensive staff put together a heck of a game plan, and it was to put a little bit of pressure early.”
Senior defensive analyst Danny Collins took over as the linebackers coach for Rossi, whom Fleck said quarantined in a single room at home but joined every meeting virtually.
Gophers left guard Axel Ruschmeyer suffered a left leg injury at Maryland last weekend and left the game, but he started at Illinois. Minnesota’s starters up front were the same as the first two games: Sam Schlueter at left tackle, Ruschmeyer, John Michael Schmitz at center, Conner Olson at right guard and Blaise Andries at right tackle.
The Gophers were without two 2019 starters on the line, guard Curtis Dunlap Jr., on the sideline in a walking boot, and tackle Daniel Faalele, out with COVID-19 concerns.
Tight end Ko Kieft also was still out after missing the Maryland game. He had scored a touchdown against Michigan in the season opener and was on the sideline at Illinois but not dressed to play. Bryce Witham and Brevyn Spann-Ford filled in at tight end.
Special teams near norm
Michael Lantz, the Gophers’ first-string kicker, handled the point-after and field-goal duties for the first time this season. He first returned to the lineup last week at Maryland but only kicked off. Brock Walker had handled both kickoffs and field goals in the opener before turning to just field goals at Maryland. Lantz went 5-for-6 on his extra points.
With kickoff specialist Grant Ryerse still out for presumed COVID-19 reasons, freshman Dragan Kesich averaged 64.9 yards per kickoff.
Mark Crawford made his punting debut with one 30-yard punt.