MINNEAPOLIS - The Joe Moore Award has been given to college football's best offensive line each season since 2015, and the Gophers didn't earn as much as a second glance from that selection committee through the opening five games this season.

After dominating New Mexico State (2-5) in the season opener, the Gophers saw the number of sacks allowed creep up each of the next four games, while they were routinely stymied on the ground, rushing for less than three yards per carry.

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Then, Minnesota turned in its best performance of the season in last week's 30-14 loss at second-ranked Ohio State. They allowed only two sacks, with one attributed to quarterback Zack Annexstad holding onto the ball too long.

The Gophers averaged 5.3 yards per carry, including 6.8 for redshirt freshman Mohamed Ibrahim, who finished with 23 carries for 157 yards, two touchdowns and Big Ten freshman of the week honors.

On the award, Ibrahim tweeted: "This is cool and all but did y'all see the #Gopher_OLine!?" He then included an emoji that had a startled, wide-eyed look on its face.

That line - senior left tackle Donnell Green, sophomore left guard Conner Olson, senior center Jared Weyler, freshman right guard Blaise Andries and freshman right tackle Daniel Faalele - opened up consistent holes for Ibrahim, often getting to the second level and sealing off linebackers.

"I thought our offensive line played really well," Gophers coach P.J. Fleck said. "Daniel, being his first start and it's against Ohio State, played really well."

The Gophers' unit improved once Faalele replaced Sam Schlueter at halftime of the 48-31 loss to Iowa on Oct. 6. Fleck said Schlueter will continue to contribute to the team.

But Faalale, a 6-foot-9, 400-pound Australian, has acquitted himself well, especially considering his first collegiate start comes in his third year of playing organized football.

Gophers offensive line coach Brian Callahan has had previous international players. "I don't assume anything, like I'll ask people, 'What's a draw?' ... And most of the time, he knows those things."

Fleck said Faalele wasn't emotionally ready to play a few weeks ago, and Callahan said Faalele was sensing he was going to be redshirted after coming from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., in the 2018 recruiting class. That's the same school as quarterback Zack Annexstad and guard Curtis Dunlap.

"I kind of felt like I had to squeeze him a little bit to get more out of him," Callahan said. "When that happened, you could tell that he had progressed to the point where he was ready to play."

Fleck said there were a few times Saturday when Faalale wasn't exactly sure what he was doing against the Buckeyes.

"Sometimes in practice, he stands up and asks, 'Coach Callahan? ...' " Fleck said. "It looked like that way when he kind of stood up (during the game) and Coach Callahan wasn't there."

Callahan has been coaching since 1992 and said he's never had a player as strong as Faalele. "He doesn't know how good he can be," Callahan said. "... He has the potential to be an outstanding football player for a long, long time."

Olson said on "The PJ Fleck Show" on FOX 9 on Wednesday that he's heard and seen other teams' defensive lines marvel at Faalele's size.

"Run blocking he can be phenomenal; his sheer size and his power and his feet are good," Callahan said. "I think the pass protection gives people a chance to - they think they can get around him, use quickness and such, but he's got better feet than people realize."

Greene tried to mentor Faalele during the Buckeyes game, while keeping things calm during it, so they could work together at their best.

"We feel like we can be one of the better O-lines in the Big Ten," Greene said.