2012 Game Preview – Minnesota

What to watch on offenseMarQueis Gray - FanIQ.com

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

2011 Record

3-9

Returning Starters

Offense-5

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Minnesota Game Prediction

The Little Brown Jug. As the legendary Bob Ufer used to say, its the most important piece of football crockery in the world. And while its been firmly planted in Michigan’s possession for the better part of the past half century, it still holds the history of both programs.

If you want a real history of The Jug, visit MVictors, Greg Dooley knows as much about it as anyone not named Fielding Yost.

Suffice it to say, MarQueise Gray brings back memories of Ricky Foggy running wild on Canham’s carpet in 1986. However for this undefeated Michigan team, at the very least Gray is dinged up, if he is even able to play at all, and quite frankly, Minnesota would have a hard time competing for mediocrity in the MAC.

Minnesota comes with a fairly balanced attack, with both running and passing nearly an equal split of its near 350 ypg average. Other than an atypical USC team, Minnesota hasn’t played anyone of any real substance, and lost 2 of those 3, including FCS North Dakota State. Whether its Gray, or True Frosh Max Shortell (incidentally someone Hoke tried to snag when he came to Michigan) neither is a very experienced quarterback, and I expect Greg Mattison to call a game to chew them up.

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Recruiting Update (1/20)

Hello all. I just wanted to give a quick update on recruiting. It’s been rather crazy since late last week in the Michigan recruiting world. First off, I want to welcome all of the new coaches to the program and wish them well. Recruiting got a huge boost last evening when Coach Brady Hoke named Greg Mattison the new defensive coordinator. He is not only one of the best defensive coaches in all of football, he is the ultimate closer in the recruiting world. I look for defensive recruiting to pick up soon, but especially next season.

On to recruiting. There has been a bunch of bad news over the past couple of weeks, in the form of de-commitments. Dallas Crawford, Matt Goudis and Antonio Kinard (was he ever a true commit?) all decided to commit to Miami. Meanwhile Jake Fisher, Kellen Jones, Brennen Beyer, Jack Miller, Blake Countess and Tony Posada are either contemplating or taking more visits. All but Fisher seem likely to be Blue at this point, but Coach Hoke still has work to do. The Wolverines are also looking pretty good for Chris Bryant and Hakeem Flowers, so the news is getting much better.

Coach wasted little time getting some new offers out there, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Cornerbacks Stefan McClure (Army All-American) and Floyd Raven will both be visiting Ann Arbor over the coming few weekends.

With Michigan lacking in the kicking game, Hoke recently offered Californian Matt Wile. It is still unsure at this point if Michigan is looking to snag a last minute quarterback, but a few names to remember are Max Shortell (rumors are he has an offer), Tanner McAvoy and Christian Suntrup. Two more kids to keep an eye on: OT Patrick Flavin and CB Darren Kitchen is still in the mix. I’m sure we will learn of more offers in the coming days before LOI day is here. We will also have a few profiles up in the next couple of days.

Look for the upcoming weekends to be big visiting weekends. So far this weekend UM has Frank Clark, Stefan McClure, Tony Posada, Raymon Taylor and Matt Wile coming in to visit. And Floyd Raven will be coming in on the weekend of the 28th. I expect the 28th list to grow as well.

Finally a few prospects to add to the Halo List from the past few weeks. Kris Frost, ugh. Michigan was his clear leader for a long time until the coaching change. Then he decided on Auburn, who decided to take his commitment over a week later. A day after I posted Devin Lucien’s profile, he of course drops Michigan because they wanted him as a defensive back. He is not a d-back, so we’re out. Jack Tabb picked UNC and Deion Barnes is picking either PSU or Georgia.