The Gophers special teams that labored against Michigan in the season opener received a boost in Week 2.
Just not where it really mattered.
Starting kicker Michael Lantz was back in action at Maryland on Friday night, marking the return of one of the unit's starters. But he returned not to his usual field goals, but to kickoffs.
With regular kickoff specialist Grant Ryerse still out for undisclosed reasons, Brock Walker had been handling field goals and kickoffs in the season opener, relying on pooch or squib kicks as he continued to recover from sports hernia surgery.
"He just got back in the lineup," Gophers coach P.J. Fleck said. " … So for him to go right into the field goal kicking, I felt like staying with Brock was the right decision for that time."
Walker did make one 25-yarder but failed to connect on the decisive point-after kick in overtime that sealed the Gophers' 45-44 defeat in College Park, Md.
Lantz, last year's main kicker, averaged 54.7 yards per kickoff. With punter Mark Crawford also out, Matthew Stephenson again, averaging 34.8 yards per punt.
Fleck has been vague on specifics about why certain players have not been available, though some are presumed to be COVID-19 related.
The Gophers fielded their same offensive line as the season opener in the Maryland game.
Left tackle Sam Schlueter, left guard Axel Ruschmeyer, center John Michael Schmitz, right guard Conner Olson and right tackle Blaise Andries all started again, the same makeshift lineup that trotted out for the 49-24 loss to Michigan last weekend.
The restructured line came about after two absences on the right side.
Right tackle Daniel Faalele and right guard Curtis Dunlap Jr. are reportedly out indefinitely. Dunlap was on the sideline with a cast on his left foot, using a scooter to move around, for the Michigan game. Faalele wasn't there, and is reportedly not with the team because of COVID-19 concerns.
But Ruschmeyer, the new starter, appeared to injure his left knee during a pileup in the third quarter and had to limp off the field. Nathan Boe played in his stead.
Maryland's offense kicked off the season with just a field goal in a blowout 43-3 loss at Northwestern, the Big Ten West division's worst team last season.
Yet less than a week later, the Terrapins scored 21 points in the first quarter. That's the most for the team in the opening stanza of a Big Ten game since 2015, per the ESPN broadcast.
The Gophers defense allowed Maryland a whopping 675 offensive yards — after allowing Michigan to pile up 481 total yards last weekend.
Defensive end Boye Mafe said despite the string of poor performances, his teammates haven't "held their heads down" and have stuck together.
"Honestly, we have to take the film. We have to go over it," Mafe said. "And figure out what we're missing, what holes we have, and everything that we need to add."
Fleck said with how many inexperienced starters he has on defense, a result like this is somewhat expected. But not necessarily tolerated.
"It's unacceptable," he said. "With that many yards and that many explosive plays, and there's got to be a lot of accountability that goes around. But everything starts with me."