What to watch on offense
Personnel has dictated much of what Minnesota has been able to do offensively over the past 2 years. The presence of super athlete MarQueis Gray has pushed Minnesota toward the spread option, but that approached has softened a bit.
Gray started out the year as the starting QB; but injuries allowed sophomore Max Shortell to play his way into the starting lineup where his performance has ebbed and flowed. After getting off to a quick start Shortell’s play took a nose dive and true freshman Philip Nelson took over the starting job in the last two weeks. Nelson has a 5-2 TD to INT ratio the last two weeks and has averaged 197 yds through the air. Junior A.J. Barker ranks 4th in the Big 10 in receiving despite having three different signal callers this season.
RB Donnel Kirkwood was 3rd on the team in rushing a year ago but has blossomed this season with increased reps and is the Gophers leading rusher this season. Minnesota lost three of five starters off the offensive line including three year starter Chris Bunders. The line struggled to block at the beginning of the year but has hit their stride in recent weeks. Minnesota boosts one of the largest offensive lines in the Big 10, averaging 305 lbs across the unit.
Best Offensive Player
AJ Barker- Barker averages 19 yds per reception and is a big play waiting to happen. A player with exceptional speed and quickness, Barker also doubles as Minnesota’s punt returnman.
Head Coach – Jerry Kill -2nd Year
Off Coord – Matt Limegrover -2nd Year
Def Coord – Tracy Claeys -2nd Year