Golden Gophers' Special Teams, Defense Carry Them To Victory

By Erik Sargent
Minnesota Golden Gophers Football
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Golden Gophers football team opened their season Thursday night by hosting a Mountain West Conference member in the UNLV Rebels, and were able to come out victorious, winning 51-23.

The game started off slow for the Gophers, as their offense could really get much going, and the defense struggled for much of the game as well. The Rebels started off the game by marching down the field for a touchdown on their opening possession.

The Gophers were able to fight back and gain a three-point lead at halftime before running away with the game in the second half. While Minnesota won by a large margin, they had many key special teams plays and a huge defensive score that helped contribute to that.

The Gophers had a 98-yard kick return to open the half, followed by a blocked field goal that was returned for a touchdown and finally an 89-yard interception for a touchdown after that. That period of 23 minutes saw zero scoring from the offense.

There is a lot of room for improvement for the Gophers, especially on offense, where quarterback Philip Nelson was only able to throw for 99 yards on the night. Nelson was also the leading rusher on the team, running for 83 yards and two touchdowns. The Gophers only posted 320 yards in total offense and they also gave up 419 on defense, so all of these numbers need to improve.

Regardless of the stats, a win’s a win, and the Gophers and head coach Jerry Kill are looking to be a threat in the conference this year. Statistically, the third year has been Kill’s best year wherever he has coached, so there is optimism for the team.

Erik Sargent is a college football writer for Follow him on Twitter @Erik_Sargent, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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