Gophers to maintain read option attack this week

QB Philip Nelson has the most rushing yards on the Gophers this season.

Jack Satzinger

Gophers sophomore quarterback Philip Nelson has combined to rush for more than 200 yards in the first two games this season.

That’s more than any running back on the team, but there are clear concerns about Nelson’s injury potential while on the run.

In the third quarter of last week’s 44-21 win over New Mexico State, Nelson sustained an apparent right shoulder injury but came back in to finish the game.

Gophers head coach Jerry Kill said he’s not too concerned with Nelson’s workload and said the team will stick to its game plan this week against Western Illinois — running the read option.

“We’re an option team, so we’re not going to [change],” Kill said Tuesday. “You’ve got to protect yourself. You’ve got to be smart.”

That has been an obstacle for some Big Ten quarterbacks early this season.

Ohio State stud quarterback Braxton Miller strained his medial collateral ligament last Saturday after trying to run for a first down.

Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter suffered a concussion in the team’s season opener at California.

Still, Kill seemed adamant the team will stay the course this weekend. Nelson’s number of rushes this season will be dictated by the way opponents defend the Gophers, Kill said.

“There will be some games that he may not [run] very much,” he said. “He’ll get the opportunity to run … or [the running back] will run. That’s the beauty of option football.”

If Western Illinois defends Minnesota like both Nevada-Las Vegas and New Mexico State have earlier this season, expect Nelson to run.

If Western Illinois tries a different approach, the Gophers might pass the ball more or continue to rely on their strong running backs.