“In Nebraska, plains pocket gophers have reduced forage yields on rangelands by 21–49 percent and on hay meadows by as much as 30 percent,” read the 2009 guide from UNL Extension, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “In alfalfa fields, pocket gopher damage has reduced production up to 17 percent in irrigated alfalfa and by as much as 35 percent in drylands alfalfa.”
Yes, Gophers can be something of a persistent problem on the plains. Nebraska (3-4, 1-3) will try to deal with it this weekend at Minnesota (3-2, 1-1).
PJ Fleck’s team hasn’t had the best injury luck thus far, losing one of the best running backs in the country, Mohamed Ibrahim, for the season in Week 1 then losing the back, Trey Potts, who replaced him for the year in Week 5. This for a team that, through five games, was running the ball nearly 70% of the time.
For the Huskers’ defense, when you add in a bye week for the Gophers, that should only dial up Minnesota’s Minnesotaness on Saturday––trick plays, plenty of formations to fool the eyes, Wildcat personnel, etc. All so Fleck can do two things he talks about doing often, winning field position and time of possession.
Offensively, Nebraska’s attack is the best Minnesota has seen since losing to Ohio State in the season opener. The Gophers have been stout against the run, and Nebraska’s run game has been fairly hit-or-miss, so how will the Huskers plan to move the ball?
We get into all of that and more in this week’s I-80 Preview.
Brandon is the Managing Editor for Hail Varsity and has covered Nebraska athletics for the magazine and web since 2012, Hail Varsity’s first season on the scene. His sports writing has also been featured by Fox Sports, The Guardian and CBS Sports.