One of the major reasons the Minnesota Golden Gophers remain undefeated so far this season is due to the play of their secondary. This Saturday’s game against the Syracuse Orange, however, will certainly put them to the test. It will be a battle between the Gophers fifth ranked pass defense, and one of the country’s top ranked passing attacks in Syracuse.
The Orange love to air the ball out, and quarterback Ryan Nassib has thrown for more than 300 yards in every game this season. His 1,139 total passing yardage also ranks second in the nation. Syracuse doesn’t just like to throw, they like to push the ball down field with a vertical passing game. For instance, they boast three different receivers who have a reception of 40 yards or more in 2012.
The Gophers will counter with a group of defensive backs that can rival anyone in the nation. They already have five interceptions in three games, and they only recorded four all of last year. Cornerback Michael Carter has made great strides this campaign, and had a solid outing last week against the Western Michigan Broncos. Carter had five tackles, three pass breakups, and a pick in the Gophers 28-23 win. He may have to be even better this week because it looks like a dislocated toe is going to keep defensive back Martez Shabazz out of action, according to head coach Jerry Kill.
Another thing the Gophers will have to deal with is the tempo of the Orange offense. Their no-huddle style can really confuse defenses and make it hard to substitute. They run a play every 21 seconds on average, which is typically ten seconds quicker than the majority of teams in college football.
Whoever wins this matchup is going to have the inside edge on winning the game.