Hartman: Gophers’ enchancment exhibits in blowout of Nebraska


What a distinction per week makes on the subject of Big Ten soccer.

Last week, Michigan ran for 371 yards towards the Gophers, with two Wolverines exceeding 190 yards. The Gophers rushed for 52 yards after the primary half as Michigan ran at will.

Saturday, the shoe was on the opposite foot. The Gophers beat Nebraska 54-21, getting a 100-yard kickoff return from Rodney Smith to begin the sport and a 73-yard run from Demry Croft and that includes the Gophers operating the ball like Michigan did towards them final week.

“What you saw today was trust in the process. That’s what I saw today,” Gophers coach P.J. Fleck mentioned. “We received higher, final week to this week. Lot of opposed conditions final week, like I mentioned, we received badped. That was the quote final week. This week, we received higher. It’s quite simple. We had an awesome apply Sunday and it received actual. Monday had a day however hit lecturers tougher than they ever have.

“Then the Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday practices, they practiced better than they have all year. For a team that was 4-5 overall and 1-5 in the Big Ten, everybody on them hard, tough, for them to come out and play the way they did today, that shows their courage, their strength. The process, the culture. I’m proud of them for that.”

Fleck informed the workforce earlier than the sport that they wanted to get off to a superb begin towards the Cornhuskers.

“We talked in the locker room that two teams that were 4-5, it’s a big game for both of them,” Fleck mentioned. “Whoever kind of strikes first, you can kind of take the spirit out of somebody and we did that right off the bat, I thought, with the initial kickoff.”

The Gophers received the quick begin that Fleck hoped for on Smith’s return. “I feel the final time we opened a sport with a kickoff return [for a touchdown] was Tyrone Carter,” Fleck mentioned. “So, a shout-out to TC. Thanks for supporting our program.”

The Gophers ran for 409 yards, the eighth most in clbad historical past.

“I believed Rodney ran spectacularly and Kobe [McCrary] ran robust,” Fleck mentioned. “Demry did a tremendous job running the offense. Demry ran for 183 yards as a quarterback, which is a school record. Rodney had 279 all-purpose yards, which is seventh all-time.”

Smith ran for 134 yards and McCrary 93 as Gophers scored the second-most factors (and most since 2006 towards Indiana) in a Big Ten sport. Croft and McCrary every ran for 3 touchdowns.

One spotlight for Nebraska was JD Spielman. The son of Vikings GM Rick Spielman had 9 catches for 141 yards.

Every week in the past, Nebraska pressured a superb Northwestern workforce into time beyond regulation earlier than shedding. Now the Gophers will discover out if they will proceed their efficiency at Northwestern subsequent week.

Elflein no shock

In an interview in May with Gophers offensive line coach Ed Warinner, he got here off as somebody who wouldn’t be in the slightest degree shocked if Vikings fourth-round draft decide Pat Elflein turned the primary rookie middle to begin for the Vikings since Mick Tingelhoff, who did it manner again in 1962.

And that’s precisely what has occurred, as Elflein has been the Vikings Rookie of the Year to this point in serving to to anchor a much-improved offensive line.

Warinner coached Elflein for 5 years at Ohio State and predicted that the Rimington Award winner would be capable of adapt in a short time to the NFL.

Warinner was requested final week about Elflein’s early efficiency as a professional.

“We always thought that he would have a chance to be very successful,” Warinner mentioned. “I told the Vikings I thought he would be a 10-year starter if they took him, and hopefully he can stay healthy and do that.”

Elflein mentioned lots of his school enchancment could be credited to Warinner. “He helped me a lot,” Elflein mentioned. “He’s a great O-line coach, and he’s doing great at Minnesota, as well. A lot of the guys he coached at Ohio State are now starting in the NFL. That says something about him.”

Warinner mentioned one of many greatest credit to Elflein is his intelligence, and that exhibits in his means to make all of the calls on the line of scrimmage. That is extraordinarily troublesome for a rookie with none expertise enjoying within the NFL.

“That’s one of the things they always wonder if a rookie center can do, learn the communication and learn how to be the quarterback of the offensive line,” Warinner mentioned. “Obviously, Pat is a hard worker and a smart football player, so they’ve obviously done a good job of teaching him what he needed to know and he kind of sets it up there up front, the blocking, patterns, identification calls. He and the quarterback I’m sure are tied together doing that.”

Another nice instance of Elflein’s early poise — he has been in a position to begin at middle whereas additionally coping with all the quarterback shuffling between Sam Bradford and Case Keenum, with Teddy Bridgewater now concerned in that blend as nicely.

Does Warinner take any credit score for Elflein’s early success?

“Most of the credit should go to him. Players become great players because they want to be and they work hard. Some accept coaching better than others, and Pat is one of those guys who accepts coaching very well,” he mentioned. “So he accepted the teaching and he ought to have a vivid future forward of him.

“I’m so excited that I’m in Minneapolis and he’s here and I get to watch him. I know the success of the Vikings is big in this community and I’m glad Pat is part of that.”


• It won’t have appeared like a giant deal on the time, however the Vikings held New Orleans to solely 19 factors and 344 yards in Week 1. Those totals stay season lows for the 6-2 Saints. It’s been a part of season-long excellence for the Vikings protection, which ranks fourth within the NFL in yards per sport (282.1) and third in factors per sport (16.9).


• Anthony Barr mentioned the Vikings are going to need to step up their run protection after giving up 115 yards on 22 carries to the Browns. “I think that’s the biggest thing,” the linebacker mentioned. “Stop the run and everything else kind of falls into place.”


• One participant Gophers males’s basketball coach Richard Pitino mentioned he believes may play a giant function this season is senior ahead Davonte Fitzgerald. “We’re being very patient with him because of his medical history in the past,” Pitino mentioned. “But I think once he gets more live game experience in practice he’ll feel more comfortable, and that will help him.”


• Gophers athletic director Mark Coyle mentioned building of the Athletes Village is on schedule and on price range and set to open in January.


• The Gophers males’s hockey workforce continues to fail to promote tickets the best way it did within the WCHA days. Last weekend with Michigan State right here, the Gophers drew an introduced 7,484 on Friday and eight,349 on Saturday, nowhere close to capability.


• Lefthander Tyler Jay, the No. 6 total decide within the 2015 MLB draft by the Twins, has had a tough begin to the Arizona Fall League. Jay has a 5.87 ERA via eight video games, with 10 hits, together with two house runs, 5 walks and 9 strikeouts in 7⅔ innings.


• Twins Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey mentioned 2016 first-round decide Alex Kirilloff, an outfielder, is recovering nicely from Tommy John elbow ligament surgical procedure and ought to be prepared for spring coaching.


• Among the MLB free brokers obtainable are 19 former Twins, together with former All-Stars Francisco LirianoPat NeshekEduardo Nunez and Brandon Kintzler.

Sid Hartman could be heard on WCCO AM-830 at eight:40 a.m. Monday and Friday, 2 p.m. Friday and 10:30 a.m. Sunday. [email protected]


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