2011 Minnesota Golden Gophers Football

Big Ten football fans

Minnesota vs New Mexico State Football Preview



It’s time for Minnesota to get healthy. A team that can’t expect to enjoy too much prosperity in the coming season will be able to feel like a heavyweight for at least one September Saturday.

The Minnesota Golden Gophers will make their 2011 home debut Saturday afternoon when they host the New Mexico State Aggies.

Both teams are 0-1, but they’re 0-1 in very different ways, having arrived at defeats from opposite directions. Whereas New Mexico State got humbled at home, the Golden Gophers clothed themselves in honor in Los Angeles.

Minnesota narrowly missed upsetting Southern California last Saturday afternoon.   A second-half comeback brought the Gophers to within two points with a chance to win the game with a last-minute drive, but freshman backup quarterback Max Shortell threw an interception with 53 seconds left that allowed USC to escape with a 19-17 win.

The Gophers held the Trojans scoreless in the second half, but the Minnesota defense did allow USC receiver Robert Woods to catch a school-record 17 passes.   Woods scored all three Trojans touchdowns and piled up 177 yards receiving.

Starting quarterback MarQueis Gray had to leave the game in the third quarter due to leg cramps.   In relief, Shortell completed seven of 13 pass attempts for 98 yards, including a 12-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Green that pulled the Gophers to within two points with 8:03 left in the fourth quarter.

Duane Bennett carried 15 times for 53 yards to lead the Gophers’ rushing attack.   Gray added 47 yards on 16 rushing attempts. Minnesota competed bravely, but it engaged in a bit of self-sabotage by failing to manage its final possession with any sense of urgency. Shortell might be a backup, but he looked lost on that last drive. He was checking his wristband to select a play instead of running a true no-huddle, hurry-up offense. Shortell used up roughly 25 seconds between a second-down snap and the third-down play on which he threw the game-sealing pick to USC. The Gophers need to tend to the finer details of the sport, and this game against New Mexico State might give them a chance to work out their problems.

New Mexico State lost 44-24 on the road against the Ohio Bobcats last Saturday, allowing 241 yards rushing while gaining just six yards on the ground.   Aggies quarterback Andrew Manley did throw for 362 yards, but NMSU played from behind for most of the evening.  Allowing 44 points to an Ohio offense that was not very formidable in the latter stages of the 2010 season offers an indication of how little progress the Aggies have made under head coach DeWayne Walker. If NMSU can’t give Minnesota a good fight, the kids from Las Cruces, New Mexico, will be plunged even deeper into misery.


By: Matt Zemek
DFN Sports Senior Staff Writer



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