Turnover ratio a big plus for Minnesota

With three more takeaways and no turnovers Saturday, the Gophers improved their season turnover ratio to plus-8 âÄî third-best in the nation and top in the Big Ten. ThatâÄôs a long way from last year, when they were the sixth-worst team in the country with a minus-15. All three of SaturdayâÄôs turnovers were interceptions , coming from defensive backs Kyle Theret , Marcus Sherels and Traye Simmons . âÄúWe need to give the offense the ball in their territory so we can score,âÄù Simmons said. Last week in Bowling Green, the defense forced five turnovers , and players credit defensive coordinator Ted RoofâÄôs simplified defense for the spike in takeaways. âÄúThe game plan is just a lot easier for us,âÄù senior defensive lineman Willie VanDeSteeg said. âÄúWith the game plan being easier you can just go out there and play football and play it a lot faster. You donâÄôt have to worry as much.âÄù âÄúWe had a lot of young guys that came in last year and didnâÄôt quite understand how fast the game is, and if you throw a bunch of stuff at them in schemes and coverage, it makes it pretty tough,âÄù VanDeSteeg said. Young line successful Head coach Tim Brewster was impressed with the play of the offensive line, which started three redshirt freshmen. Trey Davis started at center to replace an injured Jeff Tow-Arnett , Chris Bunders played in place of an injured Ned Tavale and Ryan Wynn started at right guard. They allowed just one sack and allowed DeLeon Eskridge to run for 158 yards . âÄúWe got a very young squad,âÄù Weber said. âÄúBut these kids are good at football; it will just take them some time to get used to things.âÄù Sophomore Dominic Alford injured his ankle during the game and didnâÄòt return, but Brewster said he believes it isnâÄôt a serious injury. Special teams struggle Despite a blocked field goal and a blocked extra point by the Gophers special teams Saturday, Brewster was unhappy with the their overall play Late in the half, they gave up a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to Demetrius Crawford , who was touched just once. Then, in the third quarter, they were fooled on a fake punt which led to a Falcons field goal . âÄúWe did some good things, but itâÄôs inexcusable in that situation to give up a fake punt,âÄù Brewster said. âÄúItâÄôs inexcusable to give up a kickoff return for a touchdown.âÄù