Gophers safety Antonio Johnson said the defense set a goal of posting a shutout Saturday against Kent State. The final score was Minnesota 10, Kent State 7. But for the Gophers defense, it was still mission accomplished.
Kent State's only touchdown came on an 85-yard fumble return by Golden Flashes cornerback Demetrius Monday.
"You don't get too many shutouts in college football, so we take pride in that," Johnson said.
Kent State was just 3-for-17 on third-down conversions and finished with 79 yards rushing and 63 passing.
Most remarkably, Kent State's offense didn't move the ball inside Minnesota territory until the fourth quarter. After running three plays from that side of the 50-yard line, the Golden Flashes punted and never returned again.
"We were flying around, making plays," defensive end Alex Keith said. "I mean, we played a really good game, so we were really happy."
Keith was a big part of it, notching five tackles, including a tackle for a loss, and two pass breakups off the bench. The Gophers also got tackles for a loss from Johnson, Cody Poock, Eric Murray and Julian Huff.
The Gophers have held TCU, Colorado State and Kent State to an average of 16.7 points per game. Coach Jerry Kill noted that the defense played its second consecutive game without two injured safeties — Damarius Travis (hamstring) and Ace Rogers (knee).
Adekunle Ayinde and Daletavious McGhee have proved capable replacements.
"Our defensive football team continues to play outstanding football," Kill said.
Kill responds to booing
Asked if he could understand the fans' frustration when they booed Saturday, Kill said: "Well, you know, we won the game. There's a lot of people in the country who would like to be 2-1.
"They were probably booing at me. Last time they booed somebody, they fired him, so maybe I need to get fired tomorrow. I don't know. We don't have an AD, so I can't get fired tomorrow, but they're probably booing me.
"They probably deserve to boo me. I probably deserve to be fired today, so is that good enough for you? Huh? I'm just asking? You can put that in the [newspaper]. I have no problem.
"I mean I'll get 105 e-mails when I walk out of here that I should be fired. So I don't know where my wife is, but if I get fired tomorrow, I've got a lake house, so, leave it at that. … But we did win."
Maye returns strong
After suffering a bruised lung at Colorado State, Gophers receiver KJ Maye returned to make two catches for 24 yards and a touchdown against Kent State.
"After that [touchdown catch against Colorado State], it was just hard to breathe because of the altitude," Maye said. "So I just sat out [during overtime that game], got some scans and stuff, and everything was fine. I wasn't going to let that hold me out [against Kent State] if nothing was broken or [it] wasn't anything severe."
• Defensive tackles Robert Ndondo-Lay and Gary Moore were both out with injuries.
• Ben Lauer, who has been hobbled with a knee injury, replaced Jonah Pirsig at left tackle briefly. But Lauer was flagged for a false start penalty, and Pirsig came back and finished the game.
• Redshirt freshman wide receiver Isaiah Gentry made his Gophers debut, playing only briefly and did not have a pass thrown his way.
• Gophers senior Peter Mortell placed five punts inside the 20-yard line, twice pinning Kent State at its own 7-yard line and once at its 6-yard line in the second half.