Instant Thoughts on the First Half
Start with the negative. Minnesota’s running defense in the first half has left much to be desired. The Gophers appear to be confused on their run fits and have allowed Colorado State to feast on the edge. Absent two great individual defensive plays, Minnesota is in a much tighter ball game heading into the second half. The adjustment will likely come, but the 3-4 has not looked wonderful against the run all season.
Let’s discuss those two individual plays. First, Damarius Travis capitalized on an overthrow by Collin Hill to intercept the ball inside the Gophers 10 yard line. Absent that play, Colorado State likely puts up at least three points. Second, Tai’yon Devers continued his reign of terror on opposing quarterbacks with a massive hit that separated Hill from the ball and his helmet. The Gophers recovered the fumble and scored a field goal on the ensuing drive.
Offensively, the Gophers have been able to run the ball on the Rams as expected. Minnesota averaged almost six yards a carry in the first half, due in part to several long runs by Rodney Smith. Smith continues to be a video game player in the open field, with a vicious spin move that he’s used to great effect all season. The sophomore rushed 12 times for 83 yards and a touchdown.
Leidner has played a decent first half with a costly interception at the end. The senior was 8/11 for 87 yards. He also added 41 yards on the ground and a touchdown. Unfortunately the interception at the end of the half cost the Gophers possible points and was itself not a great throw.
Shannon Brooks returned to action in the first half. He did not shy away from contact.
Carter Coughlin played throughout the first half. The freshman had a key hit late in the first half to hurry Hill on a possible touchdown throw.