Harvey Levine/FOS

GopherIllustrated GIF Rewind 1st half: Penn State

GopherIllustrated takes a look at Minnesota's loss to Penn State 29-26 through GIF's of the plays that mattered in the first half.

First quarter

Antoine Winfield makes an appearance early

Gophers go five and out to start the game and this pass break up by Antoine Winfield was the start of a pretty good debut for Winfield who got the start in the slot. Winfield finished the day with eight tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and this pass break up. 

Minnesota gets called for leaping

Turns out I need to review the NCAA rules more often as Minnesota was called for a “leaping” penalty on the kick.

The penalty, in case you’re not familiar, is described per the NCAA rulebook as such:

"A defensive player who runs forward from beyond the neutral zone and leaps from beyond the neutral zone in an obvious attempt to block a field goal / punt or try may land on any player(s)."

Thomas Barber tries to jump over the wall and Minnesota gets called for the 15-yard penalty that automatically gives Penn State a fresh set of downs. Have to know the rules, and not give away first downs on the road. 

Gophers misfire near mid-field 

This play was on a third and 12 play, and if Wozniak makes the catch, it would have been a first down. Leidner doesn't get his shoulders squared and the throw sails right on him, to where a Penn State linebacker nearly has one of the easiest interceptions of his career. Not sure if Nate Wozniak was to supposed to be a little more right, but regardless it's an incomplete pass and these are the type of throws that Mitch Leidner needs to make. 

Gophers give away a first down

Pre-snap penalities have killed the Gophers through each of their first three games coming into Penn State, and Minnesota gave the Penn State Nittany Lions a fresh set of downs three times on Saturday. Gophers had Penn State on a third-and-two situation here and senior defensive tackle Scott Ekpe falls for the hard count and jumps off-sides giving the Nittany Lions the first down. This just flat out can't keep happening and Minnesota has to stay disciplined. 

Penalty gives Saquon Barkley life

The next play, Penn State running back Saquon Barkley makes a man miss and breaks it to the outside for the 23 yard gain. These chunk plays as you'll find through the recap are extremely preventable. Gophers safety Kunle Ayinde slides down into the box and is in perfect position to make the play, and just misses. Barkley doesn't do anything special to force the missed tackle, and Ayinde has to make that play. He misses and Barkley being the special player he is, turns on the jets and gets the big gain. 

I need new glasses apparently 

I still don't know how the line judge gave the Penn State tight end here. You see him lined up a half yard short, which he was, and then take another side step to give the first down. Even after the review, I'm not sure why there wasn't enough evidence to overturn this call, but that leads us to...

McGhee doesn't allow the first down

Three plays later, Penn State goes for it on fourth and short again and Daletavius McGhee makes sure there's no doubt for the officials this time. McGhee meets Barkley in the hole and then gets some help from his fellow defenders to push him back for the turnover on downs. 

Leidner on the money to Smith

This may be one of the best throws that Leidner has made this season as he's flushed out to his right and makes an accurate and strong throw 30 yards down field to Brian Smith. Smith does a great job of breaking off his route and coming back to the ball, and uses his strong hands to secure the catch for the big gain. 

Shenault bites on stop and go

Minnesota ends up kicking a field goal, and then on the first play on the next drive for Penn State, quarterback Trace McSorley eludes the pressure and steps up to deliver a pass on the money to wide receiver DeAndre Thompkins for the 53 yard gain. From watching the all-22 view of this play, Thompkins hits corner Antonio Shenault with a stop and go and burns Shenault deep for the big gain. Secondary has to stay disciplined. 

1st quarter score: Minnesota 3, Penn State 0

2nd quarter

Gophers give away another first down

Minnesota forces another third and short, and for the second time, give Penn State the first down by jumping off-sides. This just can't keep happening. You can't give away free first downs, and this was the second time and we're barely into the second quarter. Can't commit these types of penalities on the road in the Big Ten and expect to win. 

Brooks takes the long way for the first down

Minnesota tries to run power to the left side and Penn State brings pressure off that side, so Shannon Brooks reverses field and to grab 16 yards. Shannon only had 15 touches on Saturday, which doesn't make a lot of sense to be as I think he's Minnesota most explosive player. Brooks needs more touches against Iowa. 

What is pass interference anyway

Gophers wide receiver Tyler Johnson tries to run a deep comeback against the Penn State corner, and the Big Ten officials deem this as incidental contact and no flag, I think. I guess when the corner holds the receiver outside the shoulder pads as he tries to break back toward the ball, and when the receiver makes the effort to get to the ball, and the defensive back keeps holding, that's a no call.

I have no idea why there wasn't a flag here.

No flag means Minnesota had to punt on the next play.

Penn State loves bear hugs

After another Penn State punt, Minnesota takes a deep shot down the field here and Brian Smith is mugged as he tries to go up and get the ball. I was laughing at the TV announcers here as they thought it was a no call. 


Minnesota takes over at the Nittany Lion 14. 

Wolitarsky sits for the score


Love the play design here from offensive coordinator Jay Johnson. Gophers have three crossing routes from left to right including tight end Nate Wozniak, and wide receivers Brian Smith and Drew Wolitarsky. Wozniak and Wolitarsky are right next to one another, and then Wolitarsky stops in the soft spot in the zone, as Wozniak drags the linebacker with him. 

Leidner fires a bullet and Wolitarsky plows his way into the end zone to put Minnesota up 10-3. 

Claeys stays aggressive at the end of the half

To set the scene here, Minnesota was sitting at a 1st and 17 with less than 70 seconds on their own 7. If this was a Jerry Kill run team, Minnesota would have just ran the clock out and went into halftime, but not with Tracy Claeys at the helm. Yes, the Gophers benefited from a face-mask call here, but the point remains.

Between the run and this penalty, Minnesota keeps the chains moving at the 32. 

Leidner to Wolitarsky to get in FG range

I've seen this play plenty from Jay Johnson as Drew Wolitarsky slips into the soft spot of the zone behind the linebacker and gets an easy 15 yards. 

Minnesota ends up kicking a field here and will go up 13-3 over Penn State at the half.

Halftime score: Minnesota 13, Penn State 3


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