The Gophers sound determined to give redshirt freshman Rodney Smith a bigger role in the offense heading into Saturday’s game at Colorado State.
Coming off the bench behind senior tailback Rodrick Williams, Smith gained a team-high 88 yards on 16 carries against TCU, adding one reception for 3 yards.
“He’s the only back I’ve had in a long time that played 46 plays, and he graded out perfect, never made a mistake,” coach Jerry Kill said Tuesday. “Not in pass protection, not running the ball, no mental errors. ... So I’d say he needs to play more.”
Offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover agreed, saying, “I think that [Smith’s] proven that he can be a three-down back.”
Kill said Josh Campion (concussion symptoms) returned to practice Monday, but Ben Lauer (knee) remains sidelined. Kill said Jonah Pirsig would probably stick at left tackle until Lauer gets healthy, with Campion and Foster Bush playing right tackle.
Senior safety Damarius Travis limped off the field with an unspecified injury after the TCU game. Kill said, “We’ll see” if Travis is ready to play at Colorado State.
Kill also said receiver Isaiah Gentry (hamstring) has resumed running but won’t be ready to play Saturday.
Receiver Jeff Jones made his college debut against TCU at wide receiver but was only on the field for a couple snaps.
“I know everybody wants Jeff to be a Heisman finalist right now,” Limegrover said. “But he played a little bit of wide receiver in the spring, and we’re doing everything we can to get him caught up.
“There are times where he does some things that are really good, and then there are times where if he does what he did in practice in a game, we’re in trouble. And we’re trying to eliminate that part of it. Believe me, when we feel like he’s ready, there’s no holding back.”