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Minnesota vs. Ohio: The plays that guided the Gophers to victory

GopherDigest takes a look back at Minnesota's victory over Ohio on Saturday and examines the plays that lead the Gophers to their third victory of the season

1) Shannon Brooks' first drive

Not a bad start for the Gophers true freshman running back Shannon Brooks who had three carries for 71 yards and a touchdown on his first collegiate drive.

Second carry of the drive Brooks takes the ball through a huge hole on the right side of the line, jukes the corner and then trucks the safety and drags him ten more yards. I do want to highlight both Nick Hart (#45) and Miles Thomas (#41) who do a great job of sealing the right edge, and LG Joe Bjorklund (#73) who pulls and takes out the MLB getting Brooks untouched to the second level. Great power shown by Brooks to run right through the safety and get the extra yardage.

His next carry is was the 40 yard touchdown run, that was again set up by some great blocking. Four guys I want you to watch here are LG Joe Bjorklund (#73), FB Miles Thomas (#41), RT Josh Campion (#65) and WR Eric Carter (#9). Bjorklund is the pulling guard that kick out the linebacker that overpursues opening the initial lane for Brooks to run through, along with Thomas who crushes the Ohio DE as well. Josh Campion does a great job of passing off the DT to RG Mayes and getting to the second level to meet the LB and then stays on him long enough for Brooks to turn on the jets. Carter didn't really even block his guy, but it was more of he shielded and didn't give up on the play and got in the way of the corner enough for Brooks to jump cut right and get to the open field. For Brooks, a jump cut right, a jump cut left and turn on the burners for the touchdown. Great job all around for Minnesota's first score.

2) Gopher defense and nine TFL

Minnesota finished with nine tackles for loss in the Gophers victory on Sunday, including a nice couple of plays from LB Jonathan Celestin and safety Kunle Ayinde.

Ohio tries a jet sweet off the left edge and two other players are key in Celestin getting the tackle for loss here. Defensive end Alex Keith crashes down hard forcing the WR to bounce out immediately. Slot CB Briean Boddy-Calhoun sets the edge forcing the WR to bounce inside where great instincts from the Minnesota sophomore result in a tackle for loss. Celestin comes down hill in a hurry and takes a great angle.

Ayinde recognizes the screen immediately, comes down hill against the receiver and blows up the Ohio WR for a TFL. 

3) Better game from the WR's

Two plays I'll look at specifically are in the 4th quarter from freshmen Isaiah Gentry and Rashad Still. 

Gophers go play action on 2nd down and Leidner finds Gentry in the soft part of the zone for the first down, then Gentry turns it on. Watching Gentry clearly out run the Ohio DB (#24) for an extra 25 yards. That's a burst that hasn't been seen from a Minnesota WR in a while and you can see why the Gopher staff is so excited about Gentry's potential. 

Rashad Still makes a great catch on the sidelines, but I'd first like to point on the blitz pickup by RB Shannon Brooks. Shows no fear and meets the LB head on and does all he can to give his QB some more time. Leidner feels the pressure, steps up in the pocket and puts the ball in a place where only his WR can catch it on the back shoulder. Former all-state PF Rashad Still grabs it like it's a rebound and gets a foot down as well to get the Gophers out of their own end-zone.

4) Almost for Rodney Smith

This one was soooo close. Smith bounces off the corner, jukes the safety and if he cuts this outside of KJ Maye blocking down field, I think he scores. That being said, he sets up Maye's block on the inside and is an ankle tackle away from scoring. Center Brian Bobek (#67) gets a key reach on the DT so open the hole as well. 

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