During Syracuse wide receiver Marcus Sales’ first three games, he had 350 receiving yards (fourth in the NCAA) and led the Big East with 116.7 receiving yards per game and 8.3 receptions per game.
Sales had no such success on Saturday night, being shut out of the first three quarters before catching a pair of passes for 32 yards on the team’s final drive. While one of the receptions was a touchdown pass, no one would argue that Sales had a productive night in SU’s 17-10 loss.
“(Minnesota) was doubling him all game,” SU quarterback Ryan Nassib said to reporters after the game. “We tried to move him around, give Minnesota some different looks. They had a plan for him and did a good job taking him out of the game.”
The same could be said of Nassib.
The quarterback came into the game third in the NCAA in passing yards at 379.7 yards per game. He was held to 228 yards and was intercepted twice.
“They did a good job getting pressure (on me),” Nassib said. “They ran a lot of blind stunts. A lot of it, we shot ourselves in the foot.”
Nassib may have been referring to penalties. Syracuse was flagged 10 times for 79 yards, and struggled with field position all night.
It was part of an impressive defensive showing for the Gophers, who also forced a pair of fumbles.
“I think the big thing is speed, aggressiveness and confidence,” Minnesota coach Jerry Kill said of his defense. “I’ve always said we’re going to build this program on defense, and we’re certainly getting better.”Wesley Cheng