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Minnesota Football vs. New Mexico State: The Elite, The Meh & The Ugly

You could not have asked for a better season opener

NCAA Football: New Mexico State at Minnesota Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Golden Gophers (1-0) took care of business Thursday night, dominating the New Mexico State Aggies (0-2) from start to finish in a 38-0 season-opening win.

The Elite

Welcome back, Mohamed Ibrahim. Returning from a ruptured Achilles tendon is no small task, but Mohamed Ibrahim looked a lot like his old self Thursday night as he rushed for 132 yards and two touchdowns. It was a vintage Ibrahim performance that saw him patiently reading his blocks, bursting through the narrowest of holes, and staying on his feet as he ran through tacklers. It was his 10th consecutive game with more than 100 rushing yards.

Trey Potts is back too. Battling his way back from an ailment that many thought would end his football career, Potts rushed for 89 yards and a touchdown in his first game since being rushed to the hospital by ambulance in the Purdue game last year.

The Minnesota Movers. The Gophers introduced four new starters on the offensive line but you never would have known it watching them manhandle the Aggies’ defensive front. The Minnesota Movers paved the way for 297 rushing yards and kept Tanner Morgan clean in the pocket.

Tanner Morgan. Speaking of the Gophers’ veteran quarterback, I thought Morgan acquitted himself well in his first game since being reunited with offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca. He ended the night 13-of-19 for 174 passing yards (with two rushing touchdowns), and more than a few of those incompletions were dropped passes. I thought he was poised in the pocket and made good decisions, even when he was on the run. Morgan made a great play in the second quarter, eluding a pass rusher to find a wide open Nick Kallerup for a gain of 16 yards.

The Gophers’ defense. New Mexico State’s offense didn’t present much of a challenge, but Minnesota’s defense suffocated them from the start. Not only did the Gophers pitch a shutout, but they limited the Aggies to 91 total yards of offense. New Mexico State was 2-for-9 on third down, surrendered three sacks, and saw their best drive of the game end with a Terell Smith interception in the end zone. A good start to the season for Joe Rossi’s unit.

Special teams. All six of Dragan Kesich’s kickoffs went for touchbacks. Brad Crawford’s only punt of the night was downed inside the 10-yard line. Matthew Trickett was 5-for-5 on extra points and made a 26-yard field goal. Quentin Redding looked comfortable fair catching punts.

No drama with Jerry Kill. As expected, P.J. Fleck took the high road and exchanged pleasantries with Jerry Kill before and after the game. Safe travels back to Las Cruces, Jerry.

The Meh

Too many dropped passes. Gotta catch the ball.

The Ugly