Quick Hitters: Minnesota vs Kent State

Ben Gotz

Final Score: Minnesota 10, Kent State 7


Rather than picking up offensive steam through their non-conference schedule, the Gophers appear to be slowing down.

Minnesota was only able to score 10 points at home against Kent State, and ended up giving the Golden Flashes seven points when a Rashad Still fumble was returned for a touchdown.

The Gophers started and finished the first half strong, with a field goal on their first drive and a touchdown pass to wide receiver KJ Maye on their last possession of the half. But inbetween, Minnesota barely moved the ball and was shutout in the second half.

The team’s defense played outstanding, holding Kent State to just 142 yards on 59 plays. But without any offensive support, the game stayed close the entire way.

Key play:

Early in the third quarter, Minnesota quarterback Mitch Leidner hit freshman Rashad Still for a nine-yard gain but the wide receiver tried to juke too many defenders and lost the ball.

Kent State returned the fumble for a touchdown, and the play kept the game close all afternoon.

It was over when:

Minnesota’s defense forced a turnover on downs with 33 seconds remaining in the game. Despite facing a non-conference opponent at home the Gophers could never pull away.

Five observations:

1.Offense in a deep rut

Even at home against a Mid-American Conference opponent, the Gophers' offense had no sense of rhythm.

The team finished with only 10 points and 288 yards, well below the goal of 31 points and 400 yards per game head coach Jerry Kill previously set out for the team.

2.O-line shuffle continues

With starting left guard Jon Christenson out, the Gophers had to switch up their starting offensive line for the third game in a row and the results weren’t pretty.

Minnesota averaged only 2.4 yards per rush and Leidner was sacked twice on the afternoon.

3.Leidner’s roller coaster continues

Spotty protection and a minimal running game led to another see-saw performance from Leidner.

A few impressive throws were mixed in with off-target passes and two interceptions, and as a result the Gophers were unable to consistently move the ball.

4.Only offense pierces Minnesota defense

The Gophers defense was stellar once again, keeping Kent State out of Minnesota territory until almost halfway through the fourth quarter.

The only time the Golden Flashes scored was when Minnesota was on offense, with the fumble return for a touchdown.

5. Monday dominates Saturday

Kent State cornerback Demetrius Monday tormented the Gophers during the game, intercepting two of Leidner’s deep throws.

Monday also scored the Golden Flashes’ only points of the game, picking up Still’s fumble and returning it 80 yards to the end zone.

Quote of the game:

"We didn’t handle it very well upfront, and it all starts there. We didn’t play very well but we won the game and defense did that," – Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill

Up next: The Gophers will wrap up their non-conference schedule with their homecoming game against Ohio on Saturday, Sept. 26.