Turnovers revive, then bury Gophers

The Gophers forced three turnovers in Saturday’s game against Ohio State.

Minnesota defensive back Briean Boddy-Calhoun intercepts the ball on Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014 at TCF Bank Stadium.

Amanda Snyder

Minnesota defensive back Briean Boddy-Calhoun intercepts the ball on Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014 at TCF Bank Stadium.

by Grant Donald

All year, head coach Jerry Kill has preached to his team the importance of turnovers and the vital role they play in changing the course of a game.

Saturday’s 31-24 loss to No. 8 Ohio State proved to be no different.

“We made three or four critical errors and against Ohio State. You can’t make them,” Kill said. “You’ve got to play football, and you can’t make those mistakes.”

While the Gophers made mistakes, it was actually Ohio State’s mess-ups that allowed Minnesota to hang around with the Big Ten juggernaut.

The Buckeyes bolted out to a 14-0 first-quarter lead, and they were looking to add more as they drove late in the quarter.

However, junior Briean Boddy-Calhoun had different plans. He came up with an interception and shifted the momentum at a time when the Gophers were hanging on by just a thread.

“In the back of my mind, I told myself if I had the opportunity to make that play that I was going to make that play,” Boddy-Calhoun said.

Boddy-Calhoun gave the Gophers new life again after he forced a fumble, one that redshirt junior De’Vondre Campbell recovered in the end zone, halting Ohio State’s potentially back-breaking 96-yard drive.

“I knew that if I got [the fumble], [it] would kind of change the whole momentum of the game,” Campbell said. “I think it was very demoralizing for them as a team to drive it all the way down the field and turn it over basically on the 1-yard line.”

Senior running back David Cobb scored touchdowns off of both turnovers, turning what could have been a 28-0 deficit into a manageable 17-14 halftime score.

If forcing turnovers was Dr. Jekyll, then Minnesota experienced Mr. Hyde in the second half.

After starting the half with a missed field goal, redshirt sophomore quarterback Mitch Leidner threw two interceptions, which allowed the Buckeyes to extend their lead to 31-14.

“That just can’t happen by me,” Leidner said. “I’ve got to get better.”

Turnovers weren’t the only thing that hurt the Gophers, though — plenty of mental mistakes contributed to the loss.

“I think we can overcome an interception or two, but what we can’t overcome is [a] quarterback sneak situation where we got a penalty and a [blown] coverage situation in the game,” Kill said.

Minnesota’s defense, while it played better in the second half, also had its fair share of mistakes.

The most noticeable mistake came on the Buckeyes’ first series of the second half when sophomore Michael Thomas found himself wide open behind the Gophers’ secondary and waltzed into the end zone.

Though turnovers allowed the Gophers to keep the game close, they also ended up playing a key role in losing the game.

“When you play a team like Ohio State with great athletes, you can’t make many mistakes, or they’ll beat you,” Cobb said.