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Minnesota Gopher Team Stuff

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Minnesota Gopher Team Stuff

Minnesota On Offense ? The 5c Tour

The offense has been very good on the ground and improving through the air. We run a version of the spread developed by offensive coordinator Mike Dunbar, late of Northwestern and Cal. We are currently in the #15 spot in the country in total offense. With the change in offensive system the current players don?t always fit neatly and smartly into the new spread but they are learning – we?ve continued the strong running game started under the previous staff.

QB ? Redshirt freshman Adam Weber will be starting the third game of his career. He was shaky the first half of the Bowling Green game, then settled down in the second half to help bring the Gophers back from a 21- 0 deficit to take the game to overtime. Last week he won the Big Ten offensive player of the week award for his performance against Miami of Ohio. He has all the tools but he needs experience. Backup Tony Mortenson has one career start.

RB ? One of the stronger positions with three good backs. Senior Amir Pinnix will start and get the most carries ? he gained about 1300 yards last year and is averaging 147 yds per game so far this year. He is backed up by true freshman Duane Bennett and speedy soph Jay Thomas ? both have talent.

TE ? The starter Jack Simmons is day to day with an ankle injury; my guess is that he will not play. Nick Tow-Arnett has done a nice job filling in but is not quite the deep threat that Simmons can be. At this time we run few double TE plays.

OL ? Another strength of the team. Three starters return (Shidell, Brinkhaus & Tavale) and the two newcomers (Alford & Burress) are big and talented. There is decent depth and enough interchangeable parts to give the starters a chance to rest.

WR ? With the switch to a spread offense we were all of a sudden short of receivers. Some good late recruiting before signing day helped ease the shortage as did some summer signings as well. Senior Ernie Wheelwright is the prime deep threat who can make the acrobatic catches but sometimes loses concentration on the easier throws. His 6?5? frame makes him hard to defend. Eric Decker is a sure handed athletic receiver who has come on strong this year. He takes over the spot vacated by Logan Payne, a Florida native now with the Seattle Seahawks. True freshman Tray Herndon starts in the slot. Outside of soph Mike Chambers all the other WRs are new and/or untested but have promise.

K ? Our place kicker for the first two games will not make the trip after missing three FGs last week. Junior Joel Monroe (who also kicks off) and RS frosh Eric Ellestad are competing for the job this week.

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Minnesota Gopher Team Stuff

Minnesota On Defense ? The 5c Return Trip

We are currently ranked #113 in overall defense in the country. Pass defense has been the sore spot so far this year but to me it has been systemic rather than just the talent pool in the defensive backfield. An inconsistent pass rush combined with less mobile linebackers have once again forced the DBs to cover too much territory for too long a time. The overall defensive philosophy is aggressive pressure but to this point all the blitz packages have been so-so and the DL has not held up their end ? a positive change in any of the three units could spell trouble for FAU.

DL ? Good against the run with more depth than we?ve had in some time, this DL still has not generated consistent pressure on opposing QBs (to the detriment of the DB coverage). Willie Van DeSteeg was second team All-B10 last year but is working with an injured hand. Nine players have been rotating the first two games. Derrick Onwuachi is a raw talent full qualifier who played one year of JC ball then spurned LSU for the chance to play this year with the Gophers.

LB ? Experience in the middle (Mike Sherels) and strong side (John Shevlin) with true junior Steve Davis moving back on the weak side from playing DE last year. Good run stuffing ability but this trio does not get real good drops and has problems covering in space. Deon Hightower is more athletic and experienced but the main choice has been to go to nickel and dime packages in passing situations. We do run quite a few straight and zone blitzes.

CB ? Razor thin ? the off field incident last Spring resulted in one returning starting CB and one potential starter being dismissed from the team (along with a starting DE). Jamal Harris has started for two years at CB, moved to S in Spring practice but has now moved back to CB ? he had two interceptions last week. Ryan Collado is a fast but small true frosh on the other side who is learning on the job. He has both made plays and made mistakes but he doesn?t back down. Former starter senior Desi Steib backs up on one side and soph Mike McKelton backs on the other.

S ? Dom Barber (younger brother of Marion Barber III of the Cowboys) is a solid veteran at SS. True frosh Kyle Theret is getting the start at FS this week over senior Duran Cooley. Depth is provided mostly by walk ons.

P ? Junior Justin Kucek is a third year punter who is average to average plus ? we did have a punt blocked last week by Miami
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Minnesota Gopher Team Stuff

In 123 years of playing football, FAU is the only Florida team that the Gophers have ever played

This is the second time ever that the Gophers are playing in Florida (one visit to the Micron PC Bowl vs. Philip Rivers and North Carolina)

Florida high school players on the Gopher football team:

Harold Howell ? Jacksonville Mandarin: True freshman returning both kickoffs and punts + playing a touch of WR; Florida 4A state 100m champion last year (edged out some UF or FSU recruit) + 200m in 21.05

Daron Love ? Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer: RS frosh backup DB

Michael McKelton ? Royal Palm Beach HS: Soph backup DB

Lee Campbell ? Naples Gulf Coast: Soph, Starting DE, former FL state wrestling champion

Jamal Harris ? Delray Beach Atlantic: Senior, starting CB, three year letterman

Tray Herndon ? Jacksonville, Bolles School: True freshman, starting slot receiver

Brandon Owens ? Delray Beach Atlantic: Senior, injured, a big and very talented SS who suffered a serious career ending injury two years ago against Penn State, still is connected with the team and will get his degree in communications this year.
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Minnesota Gopher Team Stuff

Thanks dwginne, great info.

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