2009 CFN Minnesota Preview
Minnesota DT Garrett Brown
Minnesota DT Garrett Brown
Posted Jul 22, 2009

CollegeFootballNews.com 2009 Preview - Minnesota Golden Gopher Preview

Minnesota Golden Gophers

Preview 2009

By Pete Fiutak

- 2009 CFN Minnesota Preview | 2009 Minnesota Offense
- 2009 Minnesota Defense | 2009 Minnesota Depth Chart
- 2008 UM Preview | 2007 UM Preview | 2006 UM Preview

Head coach: Tim Brewster
3rd year: 8-17
Returning Lettermen
Off. 29, Def. 23., ST 1
Lettermen Lost: 11
Ten Best UM Players
1. WR Eric Decker, Sr.
2. QB Adam Weber, Jr.
3. QB MarQueis Gray, RFr.
4. LB Lee Campbell, Sr.
5. CB Traye Simmons, Sr.
6. KR/WR Troy Stoudermire, Soph.
7. DT Garrett Brown, Sr.
8. S Kyle Theret, Jr.
9. S Kim Royston, Jr.
10. LB Simoni Lawrence, Jr.

2009 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 6-6
2009 Record:

9/5 at Syracuse
9/12 Air Force
9/19 California
9/26 at Northwestern
10/3 Wisconsin
10/10 Purdue
10/17 at Penn State
10/24 at Ohio State
10/31 Michigan State
11/7 Illinois
11/14 South Dakota State
11/21 at Iowa

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2008 Record:

8/30 Northern Illinois W 31-27
9/6 at Bo. Green W 42-17
9/13 Montana State  W 35-23
9/20 Florida Atlantic W 37-3
9/27 at Ohio State L 34-21
10/4 Indiana W 16-7
10/11 at Illinois W 27-20
10/18 OPEN DATE 
10/25 at Purdue W 17-6
11/1 Northwestern L 24-17
11/8 Michigan L 29-6
11/15 at Wisconsin L 35-32
11/22 Iowa L 55-0
Insight Bowl
12/31 Kansas L 42-21

Think of it this way; if you’re a Gopher fan and someone told you before the start of last year that Minnesota, who went an ugly 1-11 in 2007, would finish the 2008 season 7-6 with an Insight Bowl appearance against Kansas, would you have taken it?

Minnesota was the surprise team of the first half of last season going 7-1, with the one loss coming to Ohio State, and talk of a possible BCS bid with three home games in the final four including Northwestern, a horrible Michigan team, and Iowa, to go along with a toss-up against a punchless Wisconsin squad at Camp Randall. And then came the pick.

Second-year head coach Tim Brewster doesn’t do anything half way. He’s an ultra-aggressive coach, which helped the defense in a huge way last season as it went from being among the worst in Big Ten history to a big-hitting takeaway machine that made up for big mistakes with bigger player. His style also helped the offense and the team set the tone early on by avoiding an upset against Northern Illinois by going for it, and the win, by going for it on fourth and goal instead of settling for a game-tying field goal.

But against Northwestern, with the score tied and the offense pinned deep late in regulation, Brewster chose to push for a game-winning scoring drive. Instead, Eric Decker couldn’t make the catch on a pass across the middle of the field, Wildcat DB Brendan Smith picked it off, and he weaved his way 48 yards for a touchdown with just 12 seconds to play. Minnesota never recovered losing the final five games of the year, bottoming out with a 55-0 Metrodome send-off loss to Iowa that might have qualified as the biggest mismatch of the 2008 college football season.

However, despite the ugly end and the bad feelings going into the offseason, the dial is pointing up for the program. It’s about to open up a beautiful new outdoor stadium, the recruiting classes have set the foundation for the future with a ton of speed and athleticism across the board, and there are good, experienced leaders to build around with players like QB Adam Weber and WR Eric Decker, both juniors.

The goal for now is to keep beating the teams that are supposed to be beaten. Fine, lose to California and at Penn State and at Ohio State, but beat Purdue. Beat South Dakota State. Keep coming up with wins, get back to a bowl game, and keep building up the program. The Big Ten is having problems from top to bottom, so now’s the time to take advantage. Minnesota, with its blend of talents, is on the verge of becoming a player.

What to watch for on offense: Less spread, possibly no spread. New offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch might not completely scrap the spread, but the Gopher offense will take on a new look with more power running, the use of a fullback, and less of a reliance on QB Adam Weber to carry the entire offense by himself. However, that could all go out the window if and when MarQueis Gray comes in the game. A big-time spread prospect, he can do a little of everything and he could be used to get more running production from the quarterback spot.

What to watch for on defense: More hitting. Defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove will be looking to build on what Ted Roof, who left for Auburn, started last year. The defense isn’t good enough to stop anyone cold, but it’ll hit like a ton of bricks and do everything possible to force turnovers. The D will be relatively basic with no bells or whistles, and it should be able to win its share of battles. Offense will go on several big drives, but many will end with a turnover.

The team will be far better if … the offensive line improves. With the addition of right guard Matt Carufel, a transfer from Notre Dame, and 375-pound JUCO transfer Jeff Wills at right tackle, the line got an instant upgrade. With those two slabs of beef on one side, and 332-pound Dom Alford on the other, the size is there to start pounding away old-school Big Ten style. Considering the Gophers were last in the Big Ten in rushing, averaging a paltry 104 yards per game, any production will be a plus.

The Schedule: It'll be an interesting start to the season with the Gophers the first opponent in the Doug Marrone era at Syracuse, and then they come home to play two tough home games against Air Force and Cal to christen the new TCF Bank Stadium. Minnesota probably can't beat Penn State or Ohio State, so those games might as well be on the road and back-to-back in mid-October to get them out of the way. Closing out at Iowa isn't a positive, but it least it comes after three straight home games. Missing Indiana and Michigan, even though the Wolverines stomped on the Gophers last year, is a disastrously bad break.

Best Offensive Player: Senior WR Eric Decker. Unstoppable over the first half of the season, he slowed down once the competition heated up and his ankle turned into a problem. Even though he was all but out for the final four games, he still caught 84 passes for 1704 yards and seven touchdowns on the year. He has a great blend of size, speed, and outside of the late play against Northwestern, hands.

Best Defensive Player: Senior LB Lee Campbell. The defense needed a tough, solid tackler in the linebacking corps it could count on game in and game out. While Campbell might not be the team’s most talented player, he’s the focal point of a defense that funnels everything inside to him. The former defensive lineman had a great first season in the middle, leading the team with 80 tackles while registering four sacks. Now he should fill up the stat sheet even more.

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore DE Anthony Jacobs. Part of the reason the Gopher defense was supposed to come up with so many big plays last season was because of a solid pass rush provided by Willie VanDeSteeg. Jacobs, a 286-pound hybrid of tackle and end, isn’t going to come up with VanDeSteeg’s 10.5 sacks, but he needs to provide a little bit of pressure from the outside and has to make quarterbacks worry.

The season will be a success if ... the Gophers win eight games. The schedule is tougher than last year, but the team should be better. Minnesota won’t be a contender for the Big Ten crown, but it should be just good enough to pull off an upset or two, win seven regular season games, and go to a bowl game. The idea is to keep moving forward, and anything less than a bowl appearance won’t do after the way last season ended and with the expectations for the program over the next several years. Key game: Sept. 26 at Northwestern. The Wildcat loss is when everything went wrong with the 2007 season, but the Gophers can make amends right away in the Big Ten opener in Evanston. If they can win this one, they get Wisconsin and Purdue at home with a chance for a decent start to the conference season before the hammer falls down in back-to-back games at Penn State and Ohio State. Considering they miss Michigan and Indiana from the conference schedule, they can’t afford to give away a game that should be dead-even talent-wise.

2008 Fun Stats: 
- Penalties: Minnesota 83 for 695 yards – Opponents 55 for 435 yards
- Opponent 1st quarter scoring: 59 – Opponents 2nd quarter scoring: 108
- Interception return average: Opponents 25.9 yards – Minnesota 16.5 yards

- 2009 CFN Minnesota Preview | 2009 Minnesota Offense
- 2009 Minnesota Defense | 2009 Minnesota Depth Chart
- 2008 UM Preview | 2007 UM Preview | 2006 UM Preview