Quickhitters

Jack Satzinger

Minnesota 24, Northwestern 17

Saturday, Oct. 11

TCF Bank Stadium

Recap

The Gophers (5-1, 2-0 Big Ten) took a 7-0 lead toward the end of the first quarter with a 1-yard quarterback sneak from Mitch Leidner. The team never trailed in a 24-17 win against Northwestern.

The Wildcats did fight back in the fourth quarter with a 97-yard drive to tie the game at 17-17. But sophomore defensive back Jalen Myrick quickly put the Gophers back on top with a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, giving Minnesota the lead that finished the game.

 

It was over when:

Northwestern receiver Kyle Prater dropped a pass by Trevor Siemian on fourth down, giving Minnesota the ball with less than two minutes remaining.

 

Key play

Myrick’s interception return for a touchdown, because it gave the lead back to the Gophers.

Multiple Gophers penalties helped Northwestern tie the game up, and it seemed as if all the momentum had been sucked out of TCF Bank Stadium.  But Myrick’s 100-yard sprint gave that momentum back to Minnesota.

 

Five Observations

1. Leidner may be turning the corner.

One month ago Monday, Leidner looked helpless against TCU’s athletic defense. The Gophers quarterback’s mobility was clearly limited due to a left MCL sprain, and he threw three interceptions.

After sitting out Minnesota’s next game against San Jose State, Leidner has put forth efficient performances. In his past two games, he has recorded 320 passing yards, four total touchdowns and one interception.

On top of that, the Lakeville, Minn., native completed more than 60 percent of his passes in both games. Before then, he hadn’t hit that clip since Oct. 5, 2013.

2. Myrick is fast.

About two months ago, Myrick’s roommate, running back Berkley Edwards, said Myrick was the fastest player on the team.

His words rang true Saturday when Myrick burst down the left sideline to propel Minnesota to a victory. 

3. The West Division is achin’ for bacon.

 The Gophers could be fighting for more than just the pig rivalry trophy, Floyd of Rosedale, when they face Iowa next month. A trip to the Big Ten championship game may be on the line.  

On Saturday, Iowa topped Indiana 45-29 and both teams sit atop the Big Ten West Division with 2-0 conference records.

4.  The offense is no longer a one-man show.

When Leidner struggled early this season, running back David Cobb carried the offense. Now that Minnesota has had some success passing the ball, it’s showing balance and less reliance on Cobb — even though he’s still probably their most valuable weapon.

The Killeen, Texas, native had 97 rushing yards Saturday.

5. Minnesota has a chance to do something special.

After winning its first two Big Ten games against a struggling Michigan and a solid Northwestern, Minnesota faces arguably the two worst teams in the conference before its second bye week. 

Illinois and Purdue both have records below .500 and look notches below Northwestern. Minnesota should have its way with the Big Ten’s bottom-feeders, which would move the team to a 7-1 (4-0 Big Ten) record heading into the matchup with Iowa.

 

Quote of the game

“We’re about halfway up the mountain, and that mountain gets a whole lot steeper.”

Jerry Kill

Gophers head coach

 

Tweet of the game

“Fun watching @_LockUp28 display that track and field speed on the kickoff return. *hint hint*”

@goandaddy468

Goaner Deng, Middle-distance runner on the  Gophers track and field team

 

Up next

After a Friday night Iggy Azalea concert, the Gophers will play a Purdue team that’s not so fancy.