Minnesota defense struggles in blowout loss

Nebraska was not forced to punt the entire first half of the game Saturday.

Defensive Lineman Theiren Cockran battles with Nebraska's Jacob Weinmaster at TCF Bank Stadium Saturday where Minnesota fell to the Nebraska Cornhuskers 48-25.

Sam Harper

Defensive Lineman Theiren Cockran battles with Nebraska’s Jacob Weinmaster at TCF Bank Stadium Saturday where Minnesota fell to the Nebraska Cornhuskers 48-25.

Ryan Falk

The Gophers defense helped out a struggling offense for the first half of the season but turned in an awful performance on Saturday.
 
The Gophers gave up 48 points, the most points they’ve allowed all season and the most points they’ve allowed under head coach Jerry Kill since a 58-0 loss against the University of Michigan on Oct. 1, 2011. 
 
The Gophers allowed 464 yards, which is the most under Kill since they allowed 489 to Ohio State University on Nov. 15 last season.
 
“We had a lot of players in position to make plays, but today the dice didn’t roll our way,” senior defensive back Eric Murray said. 
 
Minnesota’s defense allowed the Cornhuskers to run all over the team for 203 yards, after holding Purdue University to just 68 rushing yards last week.
 
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln outgained Purdue on the ground by their second run of the game, when the Cornhuskers beat a Minnesota blitz with a 69-yard touchdown by junior running back Terrell Newby.
 
“[The play call] was a bust,” Kill said. “They had some explosive plays, and then they controlled the ball.”
 
Nebraska scored a touchdown on six of their 13 possessions and didn’t punt until the third quarter.
 
The Cornhuskers were able to stay on the field by converting most of their third downs, converting seven of 13 on the afternoon.
 
The Gophers played with injuries on defense, with redshirt sophomore linebacker Cody Poock and senior defensive lineman Alex Keith both missing the game Saturday.
 
Keith broke his hands in warm-ups, continuing a trend of Minnesota injuries.
 
“It’s just the ‘next man up’ mentality,” senior safety Antonio Johnson said. “Whoever’s behind them on the depth chart has to step up and fill that role.”
 
In the third quarter with the Gophers down 24-14, redshirt senior punter Peter Mortell punted the ball and pinned Nebraska on their 1-yard line.
 
The Cornhuskers took the ball 99 yards in less than six minutes to score a touchdown to go up 31-14 in the game. 
 
Normally stout, the Gophers defense couldn’t succeed with the hugely advantageous field position.
 
“Yeah, [a] 99-yard drive is always going to be frustrating,” Johnson said.
 
The Gophers’ frustration continued as the game went on, as they proved incapable of stopping whatever Nebraska threw at them.
 
“You have to rethink your preparation and keep doing a couple things you were doing but also modify how you prepare and finish those plays,” Murray said.
 
The Gophers will look to regroup during their upcoming bye week and look to get healthy with injuries continuing to pile up.
 
“Given our current situation, a bye week will be very helpful for us,” Murray said.