FORT COLLINS, COLO. – The Gophers opened Saturday’s game with a new look at linebacker.
Everett Williams and Jonathan Celestin started in the spots that Cody Poock and De’Vondre Campbell had held in the opener against TCU.
“Cody was injured throughout the week,” coach Jerry Kill said. “And then De’Vondre — we run a strict program and he broke a team rule. He was late, so we didn’t play him the first quarter. A lot of people go, ‘That’s crazy.’ But that’s who we are. And he’s a great kid. But that’s just the way we work.”
Kill did the same thing to linebacker Damien Wilson one game last season. Campbell still finished with three tackles and saved a touchdown with a leaping pass deflection during the third quarter.
Poock’s surgically repaired right knee was a bit sore during the week, so the Gophers held him from practice twice. He made seven tackles against TCU, and made seven more against Colorado State. He also forced a fumble in overtime before Ryan Santoso kicked the game-winning field goal.
“This was a huge win for us,” Poock said.
• Left guard Jon Christenson left the game with a right knee injury. Kill said he’s worried about that one, along with wide receiver KJ Maye’s undisclosed injury that kept him out of overtime.
• Tight end Brandon Lingen suffered a concussion.
• Safety Damarius Travis, who led the team with 10 tackles at TCU, missed the trip with a hamstring injury.
• Second-team safety Ace Rogers was also out with a knee injury, so Ayinde Adekunle made his first college start, alongside senior Antonio Johnson. Adekunle is a third-year sophomore who walked on from Blaine High School.
• Redshirt freshman wide receiver Jeff Jones missed the trip with a sprained ankle.
During pregame warmups, true freshman quarterback Demry Croft got most of the reps with the second-team offense. Chris Streveler was sprinkled in only briefly during warm-ups but he took several snaps during the game in the wildcat formation.
Asked if he was going to stick exclusively with Leidner at quarterback moving forward, Kill cautioned that he needed to study the film before fully critiquing the junior’s performance.
“I think the [touchdown] drive at the end is something that should give him a boatload of confidence,” Kill said. “I mean a boatload. He hung in there. It wasn’t easy. … The bottom line is we don’t win the game if that kid doesn’t take us down to score.”
Sophomore defensive tackle Steve Richardson had seven tackles, including a sack and two other tackles for a loss. He also had a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, a pass breakup and a quarterback hurry.
The play that impressed Kill most was negated by a penalty. Running back Dalyn Dawkins raced 17 yards on a screen pass and got caught from behind — by the 6-foot, 291-pound Richardson.
“I think Steve Richardson played unreal today, like an All-American football player,” Kill said. “That kid’s unreal. He’s a big-time player.”
Brooks burns redshirt
The Gophers gave true freshman Shannon Brooks his first action, using him on the kick return team. He got a quick look at running back, running the read-option play with Leidner, and they fumbled the ball, leading to a Colorado State field goal.