Gophers seek to limit Indiana offense

Minnesota will look to freshman Donovahn Jones to score touchdowns.

Jack Satzinger

The Gophers’ defense will have a lot to handle Saturday against Indiana. The Hoosiers average more than 42 points per game, and quarterback Nate Sudfeld leads the Big Ten in passing touchdowns with 14.

“Indiana is extremely explosive on offense,” defensive coordinator and acting head coach Tracy Claeys said. “They score in big plays. … We’ll have to do a great job to maintain their offense.”

Claeys said Minnesota has a “tremendous challenge” playing Indiana, especially given the Hoosiers’ extra time to prepare with a bye week.

Claeys stressed that the Gophers’ offense needs to have an impact this weekend going up against such a high-powered attack.

“Part of that is keeping our offense on the field as much as possible,” Claeys said. “Limiting their snaps.”

Donovahn Jones was huge for the offense in last week’s win over then-No. 25 Nebraska.

Jones had 42 rushing yards on four carries. Most of that offensive progress came in the form of jet sweeps, which Jones said are his favorite play.

Jones moved from quarterback to wide receiver late in training camp due to the depth at the quarterback position with Philip Nelson and Mitch Leidner. He’s also helping to mitigate the losses of Devin Crawford-Tufts and Andre McDonald in the receiving corps.

Still, receiver seems to be a natural position for the true freshman, who said he’s one of the fastest players on the Gophers.

Jones said he’s faster than anyone on the team in a dead sprint except for freshman running back Berkley Edwards, redshirt senior wide receiver Derrick Engel and freshman defensive back Jalen Myrick.

That speed gives the Gophers added playmaking ability.

“We want to get Donovahn involved because you see how smooth he can run the ball,” Nelson said. “He can really turn a 20-yard play into an 80-yard touchdown.”

Jones had barely played in his collegiate career before last week but said he has worked hard and was patient for his opportunity. After slicing through Nebraska’s defense, Jones appears ready to contribute.

“It was fun. They just tell me to wait for my time to come, and that’s what I did,” Jones said.

Still, Jones said he isn’t ready to be the focal point of an offense at receiver yet, and most of his offensive production will still come on run plays.

“I have a little more to learn,” Jones said. “But I’m not that far away.”