Gophers get an early turnover
Illinois QB Wes Lunt connects with WR Allison across the middle, but Gophers OLB De'Vondre Campbell is knock the ball loose with helmet placement on the tackle. Safety Duke McGhee inadvertently blocks the only Illini player also able to get the ball and Gophers CB Briean Boddy-Calhoun is able lay on the ball for an early turnover for Minnesota.
Leidner turns on the jets
Gophers go read option on first down and QB Mitch Leidner makes the correct call and is able to grab 33 yards getting Minnesota within the Illini 40. TE Brandon Lingen is able to chip the Illini defender enough forcing him inside and LT Foster Bush is able to get the second level on the linebacker, making an easy read for Leidner as the DE crashes on Brooks. Leidner gets north and south quick and gets what he can.
Brooks doesn't care for arm tackles
Really like the job the LG Christenson and RT Pirsig did here. Christenson pulls meets the Illini defender in the hole opening up a hole for Brooks and Pirsig down blocks and is able to enough of the defender to make a crease for Brooks to accelerate through. The crazy thing about this play is Shannon Brooks broke three tackles and almost got loose on the fourth. Keeps his legs driving for extra yards.
Brooks gets number one on the day
On second and goal, Minnesota goes power and are able to get their first touchdown of the day. Center Tyler Moore has the defensive tackle cross his face on the down block and Brooks reads that cuts back. RT Pirsig seals his lane and TE Wozniak gets enough of his guy at the second level to have Brooks get in basically untouched. Great job by the offensive line and Brooks to show off his vision and burst.
Hardin denies the Illini score
This play by true freshman CB KiAnte Hardin is actually pretty damn savvy. Illinois tries to get him to cheat on the motion man who runs a curl. Minnesota sits back in zone and Hardin stays true to his principals and passes him off to safety Duke McGhee. Hardin sees the RB coming out of the backfield, makes a great break on the ball and bats it away, taking four points off the board.
Leidner throws a strike to Maye
With the Gophers facing third and long, Leidner is able to set his feet in a clean pocket and deliver a ball right on the money to KJ Maye for the first down. Maye isn't able to get a ton of separation, but gets enough for Leidner to put it on the off shoulder where Maye can make a play and get the first down. One of Leidner's best throws of the season.
Brooks goes double dipping in the end zone
One of the reasons this play works so well is because the Illinois free safety (#3) bites on a fake bubble screen toward the left of the screen and why the time he realizes the play, he's way out of position. Also want to credit RT Jonah Pirsig on getting to the second level and Brandon Lingen coming across the formation to seal off the Illini DE. Brooks really gets through the hole and into the open field untouched and has the speed to take it to the house for his second score of the day.
Huff and Elmore get the sack
Third and long means Gophers bring in pass rush specialist Julian Huff and he doesn't disappoint. Huff just gets up field and turns the corner on the Illini left tackle. Elmore comes on stunt around and he and Huff meat at QB Lunt for the sack deep in Illinois territory.
Boddy-Calhoun shows some moves for the TFL
Illinois fakes the bubble screen and Gophers corner Briean Boddy-Calhoun reads the handoff to RB Ferguson. Cuts inside the Illinois WR initially and then back outside the other WR as Campbell strings out the play. Boddy shoots down grabs the ankle for the tackle for loss showing why he'll likely have a future in the NFL.
Leidner to Lingen to convert the third down
One of the stories of season on offense for Minnesota is the emergence of tight end Brandon Lingen. Lingen was bracketed by the Illini defense on Saturday, but was able to get open here on the out route for the first down. Makes a nice adjustment into the sun and a high pass and gets the first down.
A wide receiver fade for a touchdown?!
When was the last time you saw Minnesota convert on an end zone fade to a wide receiver? Da'Jon McKnight or before? Regardless, with less than 10 seconds left in the first half, Leidner throws a perfect fade to true freshman Rashad Still for the touchdown. Beautiful foot work by Still to get a foot down and go up and grab the ball.
Gophers head into halftime up 21-13.