Week 4 scouting report | Minnesota

The Golden Gophers run game is something that has plagued defenses all season.


Minnesota Gophers quarterback Tanner Morgan (2) threw the ball in the second quarter. The Minnesota Gophers played the Northwestern Wildcats on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019 at Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill.

Isaac Goffin, Assistant Sports Editor

Iowa’s defense will have its work cut out for it when it faces Minnesota’s rushing game Friday night.

In all three of Minnesota’s (1-2) games this season, the team’s rushing game has flourished, thanks in large part to running back Mohamed Ibrahim.

Last week at Illinois, Ibrahim accounted for four touchdowns and gained 224 yards on 30 rushing attempts. His longest run of the day was 54 yards in Minnesota’s 41-14 victory.

It was Ibrahim’s second week in a row where he had four scores, as he had that along with 207 yards on 41 attempts at Maryland two weeks ago. On the season, Ibrahim has scored 10 touchdowns and accumulated 571 yards.

At 5-foot-10, 210 pounds, Ibrahim is small enough to get through some tight spaces and strong enough to push pileups, which he did against Illinois for a score. Ibrahim’s stature is similar to that of Iowa running back Tyler Goodson, who weighs 10 pounds less than Ibrahim. Both running backs can break through the line quickly for big yardage.

Ibrahim did have one negative in his game at Illinois — he fumbled the ball. With the Iowa defense feisty for turnovers, it’s possible that this could happen Friday night.

As a team, Minnesota is averaging 238.7 yards per game.

Tanner Morgan is back as the starting quarterback for the Gophers, and he has thrown for 602 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions. Though this doesn’t match his stellar performances from last season, it is enough for Iowa to be concerned about him, especially because of one of his receivers – Rashod Bateman.

Though Bateman — who originally opted out of the season to prepare for the NFL draft before returning — has one TD in his 2020 campaign. He is averaging over 100 receiving yards per game. Bateman scored his lone touchdown at Illinois, where he also had a season-high 139 receiving yards on 10 receptions.

Bateman was named to the All-Big Ten first team and AP All-American third team last season, and is one of the best receivers in Minnesota history, having set the freshman and sophomore receiving yards records for the program.

Last season against Iowa, Bateman had six catches for 98 yards, with his longest reception being 46 yards.

The 302 yards Bateman has accounts for about half of Minnesota’s receiving yards.

On the defensive side, Minnesota’s pass defense has allowed over 240 yards per game and has intercepted the ball one time. It has allowed over 15 yards per reception.

Defensive end Boye Mafe has made his presence known with quarterbacks, as he has had 3.5 sacks and 12 total tackles so far. Mafe sacked the quarterback twice last week at Illinois, picked up half a sack at Maryland, and one against Michigan. He also had two tackles for loss last week.

RELATED: Mark Kallenberger a versatile piece on Iowa’s offensive line

Speaking of tackles, defensive back Tyler Nubin leads Minnesota in that category with 21.

Though Minnesota does have a nice rushing game, its rush defense is the opposite of that, as it has given up 239.3 yards per game on the ground. This should bode well for Goodson and company.

Opposing rushers have averaged 7.3 yards per attempt and have scored nine touchdowns against Minnesota this season.

Looking holistically at the Minnesota defense, it has done well on third down, allowing opponents a first down about 35 percent of the time. Iowa has converted a third of its third downs. On 15 trips to the red zone, the opposing offense has scored 11 times against the Gophers.