Don't Miss the Wisconsin Game!
By Daniel Kobren, Athletic Communications Student Intern
It did not matter who was carrying ball, the Gophers running attack could not be stopped.
Minnesota racked up 409 yards on the ground in their blowout win against Nebraska, the eighth most in program history and most since 2005. In total, the Gophers averaged a staggering 9.1 yards per carry.
Head coach P.J. Fleck let quarterback Demry Croft use his legs and it paid off. Croft performed at a record breaking pace rushing for 183 yards on 10 carries with three touchdowns. His 183 yards passed MarQueis Gray’s 171-yard performance in 2014 for the most by a Minnesota quarterback in program history.
“I thought Demry ran the offense as good as he has ever run it,” Fleck said. “He ran it like he ran it in practice the last two weeks. This week was a lot better and you saw the results of him pulling the ball and making good decisions.”
Croft contributed mightily to Minnesota’s fast start. On the Gophers first offensive drive, Croft trotted into the end zone from three yards out and the next possession, the sophomore broke out for Minnesota’s longest run of the season. He fooled the defense by selling a handoff to Kobe McCrary, shimmied around a Nebraska defender and had daylight on his way to a 73-yard touchdown.
Croft’s career-best performance had a domino effect on the rest of the offense.
“It was amazing what he did,” running back Rodney Smith said. “When you have a quarterback that is dangerous like that, it makes things easier for the running backs.”
When Croft was not ripping off massive runs, he was handing the ball off to two reliable backs.
Rodney Smith got the scoring started with a 100-yard opening kickoff return touchdown. On the ground, he engineered his third 100-yard game this season with 134 yards on 24 carries.
When it was all said and done, Smith finished with a career-best 279 all-purpose yards, the seventh-most in program history.
His counterpart, McCrary, continued to be a touchdown machine for Minnesota with three scores. The senior leads the team with eight touchdowns including two three touchdown games. He also churned out 93 yards on 10 carries.
““I have learned to be patient watching and playing with Shannon [Brooks] and Rodney [Smith], along with working with the coaches,” McCrary said of his game. “I have also gotten a lot better at preparation. Every week you always have to be prepared to play.”
With two games left this season, Minnesota hopes to replicate their success offensively.
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