No. 20 Minnesota brings versatile passing game to SHI Stadium
The Rutgers football team has gone up against its fair share of talented passing offenses. Iowa's quarterback Nate Stanley threw for more than 250 yards and three touchdowns in week two action. Michigan's Shea Patterson also threw in the 200s for passing, checking in at 276 passing yards and one touchdown at Michigan Stadium.
But, perhaps none other offenses are more potent than what No. 20 Minnesota brings into SHI Stadium this weekend, with hopes of spoiling the Scarlet Knights' (1-5, 0-4) homecoming game.
After going 7-6 last season and winning the Quick Lane Bowl, the Golden Gophers (6-0, 3-0) have won their first six games, remaining unbeaten in that span. They last defeated division rival Nebraska by 27 points, fueled by Mohamed Ibrahim's three rushing touchdowns.
What's different about this Minnesota team than last season's is Tanner Morgan's confidence and comfortability leading the offense.
He stepped into the quarterbacks role last season for the remaining six games. He threw for nine touchdowns in that span and amassed a completion rate of 70% against Indiana.
Morgan is already making a case as one of the best Gophers to call out signals under center. In 12 games started in his career, he has only lost two. As a freshman last season, the Union, Kentucky, native threw for 1,401 passing yards, the second-best numbers by a first-year quarterback in Minnesota.
This season has been no different for Morgan. He has thrown 14 touchdowns this season, highlighted by four scores against Purdue on Sept. 28, where he finished with a 95.5% completion rate.
For these stats, Morgan is one of the most talented and consistent passers Rutgers will face before competing against Heisman candidate Justin Fields when No. 3 powerhouse Ohio State arrives on the Banks fresh off the Knights' bye on Nov. 16.
Morgan has evenly distributed the ball to a consistent set of threats at the wideout position. Tyler Johnson leads the team with five receiving touchdowns, followed by Chris Autman-Bell and Rashod Bateman. Johnson leads all receivers with 33 receptions.
The Gophers present a challenge for offensive-minded interim head coach Nunzio Campanile, who doubles as the play caller when redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Langan commands his unit.
Against the Hoosiers, Rutgers' secondary allowed their wide receivers, particularly Whop Philyor, to criss-cross the field and run routes with ease. These major offensive sets allowed for Indiana to find the end zone with ease.
"They're consistent. They play hard. They're balanced. They're able to spread the ball around to a bunch of different guys," Campanile said about the Knights' homecoming opponent. "One of the big things is just for us, is limiting big plays. We've put a lot to good drives together in the last few weeks on defense. But then we've been killed by guy catches the ball out in the flat, we miss one tackle and he's out the gate."
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