2013 Minnesota Spring Football Analysis
Minnesota Golden Gophers 2013 ...
Head Coach: Jerry Kill
Why To Be Excited: The offense might have struggled to consistently put up points with more than 17 just twice over the final ten games, but there’s hope for a big improvement. Quarterback/wide receiver MarQueis Gray is off to the NFL, and fullback John Rabe is done. That’s it. The rest of the offense is back including all five starters on an offensive line that quietly came up with a terrific season. Quarterback Philip Nelson got his feet wet and should be ready to roll, and running back Donnell Kirkwood should take on a bigger role. But while the offense should be fantastic …
| 2013 Schedule|
9/7 at New Mexico State
9/14 Western Illinois
9/21 San Jose State
10/5 at Michigan
10/12 OPEN DATE
10/19 at Northwestern
11/2 at Indiana
11/9 Penn State
11/16 OPEN DATE
11/30 at Michigan State
Why To Be Grouchy: The defense takes a hit. The O still has to find productive receivers and needs a boost in the passing game, but it should be okay in time. It was a good year for a defense that took huge steps forward, finishing 12th in the nation in pass defense and 33rd overall. The biggest losses are at linebacker with leaders and playmakers Mike Rallis and Keanon Cooper done, but not having end D.J. Wilhite and corners Michael Carter and Troy Stoudermire will hurt. JUCO transfers will try to boost the linebacking corps, but corner will be more of a problem.
What Needs Working On: The special teams have to improve. Minnesota will be better on both sides of the ball, but it won’t be good enough to overcome problems in close games if the third phase isn’t better. Kicker Jordan Wettstein was just okay, but now he’s gone meaning big Chris Hawthorne has to prove he can handle the work. The Big Ten’s worst punting game needs more out of Christian Eldred, and the return game has to replace kick returner Troy Stoudermire and punt returner Michael Carter after underwhelming seasons.
Non-Conference Games: UNLV, at New Mexico State, Western Illinois, San Jose State
Games Against The Leaders: at Indiana, Penn State, Wisconsin
Realistic Best Case Record: 8-4
Worst Case Record: 4-8
Likely Finish: 7-5
Pre-Preseason Projected Wins: UNLV, at New Mexico State, Western Illinois, San Jose State, Iowa, at Indiana, Penn State
Pre-Preseason Projected Losses: at Michigan, at Northwestern, Nebraska, Wisconsin, at Michigan State
Schedule Analysis: It’s Minnesota, so it’s not going to extend itself too much in non-conference play. Even so, UNLV was a tough out last year, but this time it’s in Minneapolis. Going to New Mexico State should be light and breezy and Western Illinois shouldn’t be a problem, but San Jose State will be a rough battle with its dangerous and efficient passing game.
Can the Gophers start out the Big Ten season with a bang beating Iowa in a rivalry game? They need to with road games at Michigan and Northwestern and a home date against Nebraska to follow. Beating Indiana on the road and getting by Penn State at home could be a must for a bowl game with Wisconsin and a road trip to Michigan State to close things out.
Team Concerns For 2013: The offense has to start working more efficiently and better. The ground game wasn't bad, but that was because MarQueis Gray took off when he saw time under center. The quarterback play has to be strong with Phillip Nelson needing to be more effective with an experienced but mediocre receiving corps. The defense has to replace both starting corners and has to come up with more plays behind the line despite the loss of end D.L. Wilhite. The punting game finished last in the Big Ten with Christian Eldred averaging 38 yards a kick and the team netting a mere 34.4 yards per boot - life outside the Dome is a problem for the kickers.
The 2013 Class Is Heavy On ... Receivers. This is when the Jerry Kill era is supposed to be hitting its stride when it comes to getting some good players to come in and take the program to another level, but that's not really happening with this class. Defensive end Owen Salzwedel needs to become a top pass rusher and offensive tackle Alex Mayes has to shine in a few years, but the key to the class will be at receiver with Drew Wolitarski out of California and De'Niro Laster out of Cleveland two big targets who could sneak their way into the rotation almost immediately.
2012 CFN Recruiting Ranking:
70. That Class Was Heavy On ... Jerry Kill likes the run the ball, but he’s not going after any star backs. He’s bringing in quarterbacks to be ready to provide options after MarQueis Gray is done after next year, and he’s loading up on receivers to start adding some more punch to the passing game. The secondary is getting an instant infusion of talent from the JUCO ranks with three signed on to make up for key losses while improving the depth.
2011 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 68. That Class Was Heavy On ... Offensive linemen. For new head coach Jerry Kill to do what he wants with his offense, he’ll need stronger, tougher offensive linemen than Minnesota has had in years. The hope will be for tackles Luke McAvoy and Foster Bush to
quickly grow into real, live bookends for the front five, while guard Kyls McAvoy and Tom Olson have the potential to be terrific with a few years in the weight room. Tight end Peter Westerhaus and receiver Quentin Gardener will soon be focal points of the passing game.
2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 74. That Class Was
Heavy On ... Offensive
linemen. Tim Brewster was hired as the head coach a
few years ago because he was thought to be a master
recruiter. He did a decent job this year, helped by
having a new stadium to sell, and he and his staff
went hard after offensive linemen to change things
around after struggling so much to generate a
running game. Jimmy Gjere is a tall, rangy tackle
prospect with room to add another 30 pounds, while
Mark Lenkiewicz and Matt Eggen will be plugged in
somewhere up front by 2012.
2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 47. That Class Was
Heavy On ... receivers. The Gophers needed to bring in more talented targets for the future, and they might have gotten their No. 2 receiver, alongside Eric Decker, in JUCO transfer Hayo Carpenter. Bryant Allen and Victor Keise come from out of state, Missouri and Florida, respectively, to develop. The real stars of the show might turn out to be tight ends Ra’shede Hageman and Kendall Gregory-MaGhee. Hageman is the total package.