Gophers cornerback Benjamin St-Juste posted on Instagram earlier this week about the rivalry game against Iowa, writing how he hadn’t forgotten the “disrespect” from last season’s loss to the Hawkeyes.
He never had a chance to get revenge, though. He didn’t play Friday night at TCF Bank Stadium.
The cornerback was absent from warm-ups ahead of the game, his starting spot opposite Coney Durr later taken by Phillip Howard.
Through three games this season, St-Juste has seven tackles and two pass breakups.
Running back Treyson Potts, meanwhile, was dressed and warming up despite leaving last week’s game at Illinois in the second quarter with a lower-right-leg injury. But Cam Wiley backed up starter Mohamed Ibrahim in the first half Friday night.
Tight end Ko Kieft also returned after sitting out the past two games and played.
Penalties add up
Gophers coach P.J. Fleck has taken pride in how seldom his team is penalized.
That wasn’t the case against the Hawkeyes.
The Gophers committed seven penalties totaling 75 yards in the first half, well past the average from this season of just more than 27 yards per game.
Fleck himself was responsible for one 15-yard call for unsportsmanlike conduct moments after linebacker Mariano Sori-Marin received a 15-yard penalty for a blindside block on James Gordon’s interception return. That series of calls took the Gophers from Iowa’s 25-yard line to their own 45.
Sori-Marin would take one more big penalty before leaving the game. In the second quarter, defensive end Esezi Otomewo had Iowa running back Tyler Goodson wrapped up and on his way down, when Sori-Marin sailed in for the insurance hit. But the linebacker went helmet-to-helmet with Goodson, and the officials ejected him for targeting.
The Gophers already mixed in a new linebacker starter in Gordon, stepping in for true freshman Cody Lindenberg. Lindenberg and Donald Willis began taking more reps after Sori-Marin’s exit.
The Hawkeyes special teams unit is one of the strongest in the Big Ten, averaging 62.9 yards per kickoff (fifth in the conference) and 46 yards per punt (first). The Gophers experienced that firsthand.
Iowa’s first punt by Australian Tory Taylor went 44 yards to the Gophers’ 5-yard line. Howard fielded it but immediately was stopped for no gain. Caleb Shudak’s kickoff later on in the first quarter went 56 yards to the Gophers’ 9. But Wiley appeared to try to lean too far forward to catch it and fell down for a 1-yard return.
The Gophers didn’t score on either of their resulting drives from those field positions.
Meanwhile, Gophers’ punter Mark Crawford, another Australian, punted six times for an average of 36.8 yards.
While the Gophers game against Iowa went off as planned, 15 other games across the country were canceled or postponed games this weekend. That’s 24% of the total schedule for this week, including Ohio State vs. Maryland.