FORT COLLINS, Colo. - Last week, right before a play, Gophers cornerback Eric Murray and TCU wide receiver Kolby Listenbee reached out to shake hands.
“It was kind of a respect thing,” Murray said.
The Gophers secondary handled itself well against TCU’s air raid offense, but Saturday brings a new challenge at Colorado State.
Murray studied video of Rams receiver Rashard Higgins and came away impressed with him, too. “Hollywood Higgins,” as the junior calls himself, led the nation last year with 1,750 receiving yards, 17 touchdowns and an 18.2 yards per catch average. He dealt with a sprained ankle this week, but coach Mike Bobo expects him to play.
“[Higgins is] real explosive,” Murray said. “Usually when we talk about somebody’s yards per catch average, his is pretty high. So he’s got a lot of big plays in him.”
It’s not just Higgins. Six Rams receivers caught touchdown passes from Nick Stevens in last week’s 65-13 win over Savannah State.
The Gophers could be without senior safety Damarius Travis, who is questionable with a hamstring injury. But between Murray, fellow seniors Briean Boddy-Calhoun and Antonio Johnson, and junior Jalen Myrick, Minnesota still has plenty of speed in the secondary.
Listenbee, one of the nation’s top sprinters in track, managed just one catch for nine yards in last week’s 23-17 TCU win, though teammate Josh Doctson had eight catches for 74 yards and a touchdown.
“We pride ourselves on being the backbone of our defense,” Murray said. “Because when you look behind you, there’s nobody else behind you, so you have to be strong.”