Passing game can't get on track
On the Minnesota Golden Gophers' first drive of the game, quarterback Conor Rhoda tries to hit tight end Nate Wozniak across the middle on a crossing route, but the ball is thrown behind him and while Wozniak should have caught this, he doesn't reel it in and the Gophers go three and out. Ball placement here has to be better, but Woz has to catch this and get north - south. I wonder if this route will be Brandon Lingen's going forward as he'll be getting healthier each game.
Hardin does it again
KiAnte Hardin does it again. Second consecutive game that Minnesota cornerback KiAnte Hardin comes down with the interception and he goes up to high-point the ball for this one. The Gophers are sitting in zone coverage and you'll see Hardin sitting back reading Tyrrell Pigrome's eyes right behind Damarius Travis and I don't think Pigrome ever saw Hardin sitting back and waiting. Hardin goes up and makes the great play on the ball and Minnesota's gets the ball back in Maryland territory.
Brooks misses a big play
Fourth consecutive Gopher play we're taking about and this one hurts as a Shannon Brooks truther. Minnesota goes power to the left with center Tyler Moore and left guard Jared Weyler out in front pulling. Tight end Brandon Lingen does a fantastic job of turning in his defender, as does left tackle Donnell Greene. Right tackle Garrison Wright gets to the second level quickly, which leaves Brooks basically untouched to the second level. Brooks bounces it inside, instead of outside, and it's only a 15 yard gain because of it. If Brooks bounces this outside after he gets past the cut block, he's gone to the end zone as that safety with the angle he took isn't going to catch Brooks. It looks like Brooks made the correct read bases on the block down field, and I am nit picking, but you can see the potential bigger play potential there.
Big Ten officiating is a joke
Watch the Maryland middle linebacker here.
He watch Conor Rhoda motion Drew Wolitarsky in motion and immediately tries to sync up when he should clap to draw Minnesota off-sides. He's successful in doing so and there's no penalty called. This is 100% a penalty and it's something that the Gophers spoke with the referees before the game about, and yet the ref standing two yards behind the Terrapin offender doesn't catch and Minnesota's given a false start.
Folks, that's just poor officiating as that play is 110% illegal.
Minnesota ends up settling for a field goal opportunity on the drive and do not end up getting points.
Rashad Still makes the adjustment
On second and 12, Minnesota decides to take a shot down field and is successful in doing so with this throw to Rashad Still. Rhoda under throws it a bit, which makes Still adjust and come back to the ball, and he hauls it in for the 26 yard gain.
Minnesota needs to keep taking shots like this vertically with Still, Brian Smith and Brandon Lingen.
First Quarter Score: Minnesota 0, Maryland 0
The ole Fumblerooski
Minnesota ends up punting on their previous drive and stud Maryland Terrapins returner Will Likely muffs the punt here into the waiting arms of special teams ace Thomas Barber. Minnesota can't advance the ball because it's a fair catch, but Minnesota takes over with great field position, again, on the Terrapin 16.
Rodney Smith gets Minnesota on the board
Not the first time this year that Gophers running back Rodney Smith has bailed Minnesota out with a spin move, and won't be the last. Minnesota attempts to run power right and with left guard Jared Weyler leaving on the pull, that puts Donnell Greene is a tough spot. He's expected to wash down a four technique who is already slanting toward the center, so Smith sees that and spins away into space. Turns on the boosters to get around the linebacker and wide receiver Brian Smith holds his block to let Smtih slip into the end zone for the score.
Richardson needs more respect
I don't really know what else defensive tackle Steven Richardson has to do to prove to opposing offensive coordinators that he deserves more attention. This sight was frequent against on Saturday as Richardson swims the guard to his inside shoulder, which immediately flushes the Maryland quarterback outside for a throw away. Richardson in the stats only had one total tackle on the day, but the stats don't show plays like this. I'm extremely surprised that Richardson isn't seeing double teams on a majority of his snaps like Ra'shede Hageman did, but it's a good thing for this Minnesota defense.
Rhoda needs to calm down
This was Minnesota's only "sack" of the day and I'll even argue that Rhoda got back to the line of scrimmage so it shouldn't have been a sack, but regardless, Rhoda has to calm down in the pocket. He gets antsy here when he feels pressure on his right side and then steps up into it. You'll see he only looks right for his first two reads here and Brandon Lingen is actually open here, but by that time, Rhoda gets frazzled. If he just steps up left, he may see that Rashad Still is wide open at the top of his screen on a corner route, as he gets the safety all types of turned around.
Smith shows off the hands
Minnesota puts both running backs in Shannon Brooks and Rodney Smith here, and runs a beautiful "Texas" route, where he angles out toward the sidelines, and then drives back toward the center of the field. Once he catches the ball, he stops on a dime to make the safety miss and get gets the first down. Great job by Smith there.
Gophers drive stalls at mid field
Even if Donnell Green is able to reach, or at least wash down the slanting defensive tackle, I don't think this play goes anywhere. Maryland has eight guys in the box, while Minnesota only has seven blockers (two tight ends in), so the Terrapins have a plus one advantage here. You'll see that the Maryland linebacker off the edge here in unblocked and ends up making the play.
Greene can't take those false steps before going after the Maryland tackle, it's tough to see where if he does make the play that Brooks ends up going anywhere.
Jay Johnson you sneaky fox
Gophers get the ball back near midfield with two minutes left on the clock, and eventually get it within the red zone with 20 seconds on the clock. Maryland brings three linebackers off the edge, which sets up perfectly for Minnesota offensive coordinator Jay Johnson's middle screen to Shannon Brooks here. Rhoda waits until the last possible moment to get the throw away and Brooks slides behind Connor Mayes and Garrison Wright for the score.
Brooks does a good job of setting up Connor Mayes here so that the defender can't cut inside and Minnesota takes the 14-0 lead heading into half-time.