Minnesota moves to 5-1 with win over Indiana

Football v. Indiana

Tara Sloane

Football v. Indiana

Minnesota versus Indiana was supposed to be a shootout. No defense, just score after score after score. Apparently, nobody explained that to either team. When the Gophers and Hoosiers faced off in Indiana last season, the score after the first quarter stood level at 14-14, with a final score of 40-20 in favor of Indiana. The final Saturday at the Metrodome: 16-7 Minnesota . Head coach Tim Brewster , who notched his first Big Ten win, had just one question after the game. âÄúHow âÄôbout that defense?âÄù That hasnâÄôt been asked about the Gophers (5-1 overall, 1-1 Big Ten) very often, in recent years. âÄúIt feels great to play a game where we leaned on the defense,âÄù Brewster said. âÄúI think that says so much about our future and where weâÄôre going.âÄù Minnesota limited an Indiana (2-3, 0-2) team that came into SaturdayâÄôs game averaging 249 rushing yards per game to only 49 yards on the ground . Hoosiers quarterback Kellen Lewis, who rushed for 75 yards against the Gophers a year ago , managed only 18 Saturday and was sacked three times . Until backup quarterback Ben ChappellâÄôs 77-yard strike to running back Marcus Thigpen with 2:29 left in the first half, Indiana had gained only 13 yards on offense, and the HoosiersâÄô five previous drives had ended in four three-and-outs and an interception. âÄúThankfully, our defense came to play today,âÄù sophomore quarterback Adam Weber said. He was âÄúthankfulâÄù because MinnesotaâÄôs offense was hardly itself. Weber was 22-of-37 for 274 yards but failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time this season . And on an option play in the second quarter, his pitch was behind freshman running back Shady Salamon, who was unable to corral the ball, allowing Indiana defensive tackle Kevin Burrus to jump on it. Turnovers didnâÄôt prove to be the issue, however. The Gophers won the turnover battle 3-2 , and the defense bailed out Weber and Salamon on the next play, as Chappell looked right through junior linebacker Lee Campbell and ended up throwing the ball into his chest. Instead, it was MinnesotaâÄôs inability to finish drives that plagued the team for most of the game. The GophersâÄô first possession ate up more than nine minutes of clock and covered 68 yards, but Weber was sacked on third-and-goal and senior kicker Joel MonroeâÄôs 28-yard field goal attempt clanked off the left upright âÄî nine minutes and nothing to show for it. By the end of the game, MinnesotaâÄôs offense had put up 333 yards but had found the end zone only once. Four drives reached the red zone, but the Gophers came away with just one field goal and one touchdown âÄî uncharacteristic of a team that scored 11 touchdowns in its first 11 trips to the red zone this season . Indeed, it seems the only thing that wasnâÄôt uncharacteristic about MinnesotaâÄôs offense was junior wide out Eric Decker. He had a career day, snagging 13 balls for 190 yards. But on his final catch of the game early in the fourth quarter âÄî a 15-yard grab on third-and-nine âÄî he was shaken up after taking a knee to the helmet. It appeared as though the star receiver suffered a concussion, but he returned for the GophersâÄô final drive. Decker said he chose to come back into the game though he had stumbled off the field just minutes earlier. âÄúI did ask to get back in because I wanted to be there with the team,âÄù he said. And the team came through. The offense got the ball with 7:43 remaining on the clock and the score 13-7, marched down the field to IndianaâÄôs 21, ate up 7:21 and Monroe kicked a field goal with 22 seconds remaining to seal the game. Sure, they might have struggled all afternoon, but the offense strung together that final drive just in time to pay the defense back for what Brewster called an âÄúabsolutely spectacularâÄù performance. âÄúThatâÄôs what good teams do; they complement each other,âÄù he said.