Minnesota’s first conference game of the year will be at Penn State, and it’s going to be a tough one.
The Minnesota Daily recently talked to Steve Palazzolo, a senior analyst at Pro Football Focus — a football analytics site — and asked him questions about Minnesota’s veteran quarterback Mitch Leidner, who has been a key part of the Gophers undefeated start.
Before the Colorado State game, junior linebacker Jonathan Celestin said he told junior defensive tackle Steven Richardson that he owed him some tackles for a loss of yards. Richardson took that to heart. The junior defensive lineman had one of his best career games that Saturday and totaled four tackles for loss to cause problems all day for Colorado State’s offense.
The Gophers came out of their home-only non-conference schedule just the way they wanted: undefeated. Minnesota faces a bigger challenge though as the Gophers open up Big Ten play at Penn State — the first time Minnesota has played at the 106,572 person capacity stadium since 2009.
First came the sack, then the bouncing helmet and finally, a loose ball. Freshman defensive end Tai’yon Devers came into the game on a third-and-11 situation. The ball was snapped and he quickly beat Colorado State tight end Danny Nwosu around the edge, running full speed at quarterback Collin Hill.
The Gophers end their non-conference schedule with another easy game, this one coming against Colorado State.
The play of the defensive backs was the least of Minnesota’s concerns last season, but the same can’t be said about the group so far this year. The Gophers’ passing defense has allowed seven touchdowns in two games – tied for fifth-highest in the FBS – and the Gophers are one of 14 teams in the FBS that have yet to record an interception. Defensive coordinator Jay Sawvel said he isn’t worried, as it has only been two games, but he noted some sloppiness against Indiana State on Sept.
Kobe McCrary was out to prove something in his second career game. The junior running back — who transferred to Minnesota from Butler Community College during the offseason — wanted to show the world he was more than a 1-yard running back and not just the third option behind redshirt sophomore Rodney Smith and an injured sophomore Shannon Brooks. He accomplished his goal Saturday against Indiana State, running for 176 yards on 17 carries with two touchdowns in a 58-28 Minnesota win at TCF Bank Stadium. “I just came [to Minnesota] and felt like I can bring some depth,” McCrary said.
Minnesota squeaked by Oregon State with a 30-23 win Sept. 1. Their matchup against FCS opponent Indiana State should go a lot smoother.
There was one number that stood out to defensive coordinator Jay Sawvel after the season opener: 14. The Gophers had a total of 14 quarterback hits against Oregon State, Sawvel said.