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The Ability to Force Turnovers Has Been Instrumental to the Minnesota Gopher’s Success

Wednesday, October 26, 2016 21:06
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We have user submitted post on the surging Minnesota Gophers, as we branch out of the ACC in this piece.

2  weeks ago, the Minnesota Gophers pulled off an unexpected victory over the Maryland Terrapins, who were heavily favored to win the game. During the game, the Gophers racked 229 of rushing yards, which allowed them to control the clock. Quarterback Conor Rhodas also played well, but the key to the Gophers’ success on Saturday was their opportunistic defense, which forced Maryland to commit four turnovers. Minnesota’s win upset college football predictions, and the team is hoping to to win their 3rd game in a row, after beating Rutgers last week.

The four turnovers the defense caused against Maryland led to 14 points for the Gophers, and the offense did their part by not turning the ball over. After the game, head coach Tracy Claeys said it was the first time all three phases of the team played together and showed what the Gophers are capable of doing.

Last year, the Gophers had a disappointing Big ten campaign, and turnovers had big part to play in it. While their defense was able to create turnovers, the offense couldn’t convert on the opportunities.

In 2014, the Gophers scored 63 points from turnovers in eight games. In their five conference wins, the team was +8 in turnover margin, and scored 28 points off turnovers. In their loss to Ohio State, the team scored 21 points from turnovers, before eventually losing to the champions by seven points.

Last year, the points the team scored from turnovers declined from 28 in conference games to 13, despite the number of total turnovers only dropping by four. The team’s inability to convert on turnovers led to only two conference wins last season.

In their first two Big Ten games of the season, the Gophers defense forced only two turnovers, and the offense was unable to capitalize on both occasions. Things changed on 2 weeks ago when Rodney Smith scored a touchdown three plays after the specials team recovered a muffed punt.

Antonio Winfield Jr provided another score when he returned an interception 82 yards. The Gophers also had a first quarter interception.

KiAnte Hardins, who made the interception, had seven tackles and an interception against Iowa in their previous game.

After a tough opening to their Big Ten campaign, the Gophers have an opportunity to add more wins to their season total with games against Illinois, Rutgers, and Purdue coming up. The team will try to avoid making silly mistakes and will be opportunistic on defense, starting with their homecoming game against Rutgers, who have struggled this season. Minnesota took advantage of the Rutger’s matchup winning 34-32.

Two weeks ago, linebacker Nick Rallis said the defense has been bringing more energy to practice in the last few weeks, and said it has a lot to do with the way they have been playing lately.

Rutgers is second to last in the Big Ten when it comes to turnover margin, and the team has allowed opponents to score 45 points off turnovers. 2 weeks ago, Rutgers lost four fumbles and threw an interception in their game against Illinois. The Gophers took full advantage of Rutgers poor ball security, as they forced 3 Rutgers turnovers in the win to move to 5-2.

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