The UNLV Runnin Rebels made the trip to Minnesota to kick of the 2013 season, and the Minnesota Golden Gophers‘ performance on Thursday night made that trip home a little longer as the Gophers walked away with the victory 51 to 23. The Rebels put forth a good effort, but it was not enough to overcome a Minnesota team that seemed very prepared to play some football. The Gophers came into the game with gusto and will leave with plenty of it after a game filled with exciting moments.
Minnesota actually trailed at half but they were not a team that was about to give up so early in their season. Both teams played a typical first half of a season opener – a bit sloppy at times but plenty of spirit. The big plays came in a big way as they book-ended the halftime festivities. The Golden Gophers scored when quarterback Phillip Nelson connected with tight end Max Williams with 18 seconds left to play in the first half. The Gophers took that big play and turned it into another on the first play of the second half when Marcus Jones returned the kickoff for a touchdown (98 yards). Coach Jerry Kill must have had plenty to say to his players at halftime as they came out and continued to press in the second half scoring 35 points. He told the Big Ten Network that what he wanted was big plays, and his request was heard.
The sophomore quarterback Nelson showed off his quick feet all night, possibly showing some elusiveness that will be necessary against some physical defensive squads in the Big Ten. Nelson’s speed was very visible on a 48-yard scamper for a score.
Will this be the way for Coach Kill’s Gophers, live by the big play? The coach believes that big plays win games, and his young quarterback has proved that he is capable of producing just such plays. It is very early to tell if this is what we can expect to see all season. It does show some bravado by the coach announcing to all that will listen that his intentions are to create opportunities for his team to make those big, exciting plays.