The University of Minnesota Golden Gophers hosted the South Dakota State Jackrabbits on Aug. 29 at TCF Bank Stadium to open the 2019 football season. The team struggled most of the game but came away with the win, defeating the Jackrabbits 28-21.
The Minnesota Gopher football team has had its share of struggles over the last half decade with three different coaches, the roster has has almost entirely turned over since current head coach, P.J. Fleck took over in 2017. The team has a current makeup of almost 80% with at least three years of NCAA eligibility.
Expectations were high coming to 2019 as the team looked to have a great quarterback competition brewing between 2018 starter, Zach Annexstad and red shirt sophomore Tanner Morgan. Unfortunately that competition was cut short just days into the team’s training camp when Annexstad suffered an injury to his ankle in practice, taking him out until at least December.
Listed as a wide receiver, Seth Green (Jr.) scored one of his trade mark red zone quarterback sneaking touchdowns in the second quarter to put the Gophers up by a touchdown.
Another missing link was senior Kamal Martin, who missed the game as part of a suspension for violating team rules at the end of the 2018 season. Head coach P.J. Fleck said “If you don’t do the right things, you don’t play” and went on to state the Martin will be available for the team’s week two away game against Fresno State.
The South Dakota defense effectively nullified Minnesota’s most dynamic receiver, Tyler Johnson (Sr.), who caught three passes for 28 yards. The Gophers adjusted, leading to Rashad Bateman (So.) having one of the best games of his career, catching five passes for 132 yards and a touchdown.
The difference in the game was red shirt senior Chris Williamson’s interception less than two minutes into the second half that he ran in for a touchdown to put Minnesota up 20-7.
Defensively the Gophers were led by Sophomore Jordan Howden with 12 tackles and two passes defended. Sophomore Antoine Winfield Jr. had a brilliant pass breakup in the first half that stalled a Jackrabbits drive.
Minnesota will take their undefeated record to California against Fresno State, a game that will test the young team. Stay tuned for more Gopher football coverage and stories from My Story Minnesota.