Daily breakdown: Gophers set for easy win against Sycamores

Minnesota hosts Indiana State on Saturday at 11 a.m.

Defensive back Jalen Myrick catches the ball during the Gophers' game against the Oregon State Beavers on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016 at TCF Bank Stadium.

Bridget Bennett

Defensive back Jalen Myrick catches the ball during the Gophers’ game against the Oregon State Beavers on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016 at TCF Bank Stadium.

Mike Hendrickson


Minnesota squeaked by Oregon State with a 30-23 win Sept. 1. Their matchup against FCS opponent Indiana State should go a lot smoother. A full breakdown, prediction, and other notes can be found below:

When Minnesota runs the ball:

This is what
Minnesota did best against Oregon State, and they will likely be even more
successful against Indiana State. The Sycamores allowed an average of 172.2 yards
on the ground last year, which was in the middle of the FCS. Indiana State surrendered
145 yards and four touchdowns on the ground to Butler — an FCS team whose
rushing offense is not its strong suit — in its 2016 season opener.

Running back Rodney
Smith and quarterback Mitch Leidner combined for 201 yards and four touchdowns
against Oregon State. The Gophers are without sophomore running back Shannon Brooks for Saturday, but Smith and Leidner will still undoubtedly have
a great game on the ground. 

Matchup to watch: RB
Rodney Smith vs. LB Antonio Broadus

Advantage: Minnesota

When Indiana State runs the ball:

Indiana State
averaged 88.6 rushing yards a game last year, sixth-to-worst in the FCS, but
did rush for 124 yards against Butler with two touchdowns. Still, the Gophers
rushing defense should have no problem handling the Sycamores. Minnesota held
Oregon State to 89 rushing yards in the opener, and fielded an average rushing
defense last year. Gophers redshirt senior linebacker Nick Rallis — a talented
defender against the run — will miss the game due to a left arm injury, but
that shouldn’t make too big of a difference against Indiana State’s running
game, led by redshirt senior Roland Genesy and redshirt junior Dimitri Taylor.
Minnesota has most of its defense healthy, and Indiana State’s running backs
will have a hard time getting over 100 yards or scoring touchdowns.

Matchup to watch: RB
Roland Genesy vs. LB Cody Poock

Advantage: Minnesota

When Minnesota passes the ball:

Leinder and his
receivers didn’t have the easiest game against Oregon State. The quarterback
finished with only 130 yards and didn’t throw a touchdown for the first time in
eight games, so this matchup could be worrisome for the Gophers if Leidner
doesn’t improve. Indiana State’s passing defense was respectable in the FCS
last year, but struggled against their lone power-five opponent, Purdue,
allowing 52 yards above the Boilermakers’ season average.

The Sycamores’
backfield, led by safety Tsali Lough, is made up of almost all seniors and may
grab an interception from Leidner, but their impact won’t be significant enough
to really limit him and affect the game. 

Matchup to watch: WR
Eric Carter vs. CB Lonnell Brown Jr.

Advantage: Minnesota

When Indiana State passes the ball:

Indiana State
quarterback Isaac Harker had a good game against Butler, throwing for 315 yards
and two touchdowns. But Butler’s secondary isn’t Minnesota’s — Butler had the
second to worst passing defense in the FCS, finishing only ahead of Princeton
last season. Minnesota lost two key players in their elite secondary last year
with Eric Murray and Briean Boddy-Calhoun going to the NFL, and they struggled
at times against Oregon State as the Beavers’ quarterback had 228 yards with
three touchdowns.

This should still
be a very lopsided matchup for Minnesota. Harker is inexperienced, and the
redshirt sophomore may very well have a bright future ahead of him, but it
won’t start in this game. 

Matchup to watch:
WR Robert Tonyan Jr. vs. CB KiAnte Hardin

Advantage: Minnesota

Prediction: 

Minnesota 34, Indiana
State 10.

Indiana State may
score a touchdown and force a turnover, but Minnesota should have no trouble
beating them easily. 

Prediction total: 1-0

Around the web on the Gophers and the
Sycamores:

1. Mike Sherels: A strong will, through football battles and life-threatening surgeries

-This was the best
thing I read all week, bar none. The Star Tribune’s Chip Scoggins writes about Gophers
linebackers coach Mike Sherels and his recovery process after he spent five
days in the ICU on a ventilator due to digestive system failure. Scoggins spoke
with Sherels and his wife Emily, who found out she was having twins while Mike
was in the ICU. Read every word. It’s well worth your time.

2. ISU gets one last shot at a Big Ten victory

-Todd Aaron Golden
of the Tribune-Star writes about how Indiana State’s
last chance to get a victory against a Big Ten team would be with a win against
Minnesota Saturday. The Sycamores are 0-15 all time against the Big Ten and
won’t play another team in the conference for awhile, as the Big Ten will not
allow their teams to schedule games against FCS teams in the future, Golden writes.

3. Gophers defense unveils new look in season-opening win

-Andy Greder of the
Pioneer Press takes a look at the new defensive scheme that the Gophers
revealed against Oregon State. This is an awesome analysis of the 2-4 front
Minnesota used at times in the opener and a good report into how defensive coordinator
Jay Sawvel came up with it.

4. ISU football ready to erase all doubts

-The Sycamores had
a solid season in 2014, but 2015 was a step back (sound like anyone?), the
Indiana Statesman’s Rob Lafary writes. Things are looking better for Indiana
State football this year, and while they probably won’t grab a win against
Minnesota, it sounds like they’ll be able to make another run at the FCS
playoffs.

5. Of math and men: examining Claeys’ two-point conversion stance

-Good breakdown of
head coach Tracy Claeys’ decision to go for two at the end of the game against
Oregon State by the Star Tribune’s Michael Rand. 

Three takes:

1. There were more negatives than positives
from last week’s game

-The important part
here for the Gophers will always be that they ended the day with a win, but
really, there was a lot of mistakes made by Minnesota in the game against
Oregon State. The Gophers had eight penalties that gave the Beavers 70 yards,
sophomore center Tyler Moore had two very bad snaps that cost the Gophers big
time, three players were ejected for justified targeting calls, and the game
really should have never been in a position that required a fourth-quarter
comeback in order for the Gophers to win. There were definitely positives from the
game, Rodney Smith’s great performance to name one, but all those negatives
would’ve cost the Gophers against a slightly harder opponent.

2.  Claeys’ failed
two-point attempt was criticized too much

-Former Gophers head coach GlenMason and Eric Collins, the two broadcasters on Big Ten Network for the game, and other pundits questioned whether Claeys made the right call by going for two while up seven with 1:27 left. The decision ended up being so insignificant to the outcome, that it shouldn’t have been dissected as a bad call after the game. The Beavers’ chances of winning were so minuscule no matter what after that touchdown, so the attempt
wasn’t that big of a deal.

3. If the Gophers struggle against Indiana
State and Colorado State, then they’ve got problems

-It is far too
early to say whether or not the Gophers will struggle this season. If they have
two more close games against easy opponents like Indiana State and Colorado
State, then there should be cause for concern but it is too early to tell
at this point how the remainder of the season will go for Minnesota.

The Minnesota Daily’s football coverage from this past week:

1. Freshman receiver has “exceptional” game for Gophers

-A story on
freshman Tyler Johnson’s first game with the Gophers and his development over
the offseason.

2. Defensive line excels behind performance from true freshman

-Short feature on
the defensive line’s dominant game and the freshman that led the way.

3. Questions from the Other Side: Defensive back Tsali Lough

-The first
installment of a weekly column interviewing a player from Minnesota’s opponent. This week’s subject was Indiana State safety Tsali Lough, who plans
on joining the Marines after school.

4. Offensive line plays well in victory over Oregon State

-Minnesota’s
new-look offensive line had a good game Thursday, minus a few mistakes.
Overall, the group looked a lot better than they did most of last season.

5. Rodney Smith steps up in relief of injured Brooks

-Story from the
game about Rodney Smith’s excellent day.

6. After rocky start, Gophers defeat Oregon State Beavers in opener

-Game recap from
Sept. 1.

Everything else you need to know:

Start time: 11:00
a.m. CST

Where: TCF Bank Stadium

Network: ESPNews

Radio: KFAN 100.3

Line: No line
available

Minnesota depth chart

Indiana State depth chart