College Football Preview: The 2015 Minnesota Golden Gophers
Minnesota Golden Gophers Preview
2014 Record: 8-5 (37th of 128) Lost Citrus Bowl 33-17 vs. Missouri
Odds to Win National Championship: +60000 See the Latest Odds
Overview: Jerry Kill has turned the Minnesota Golden Gophers into a decent Big Ten team that’s made a bowl appearance in three straight seasons for the first time since Glen Mason. Now, Minnesota hopes to take that next step and possibly win its first bowl game since 2004. Minny has gone a decent 16-10 the last two seasons.
Offense: Minnesota is installing a quicker paced offense that hopes to help quarterback Mitch Leidner who completed just 51.5 percent of his passes last season. Leidner showed flashes of being a decent quarterback, but had just 11 touchdowns and eight picks, and he has to be more of a difference maker. Rodrick Williams and Rodney Smith must replace the production of David Cobb, which certainly won’t be easy. However, Williams had three touchdowns on 23 carries and could be in store for a solid season. KJ Maye and Drew Wolitarsky must step up at receiver in order for this offense to really get going. Jeff Jones and Isaiah Gentry are two young guys who will be thrown into the mix as well. Minnesota has a ton of questions on this side of the ball but a lot can be answered if improvement is made at QB.
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Defense: Minnesota had a top-40 defense last season and could improve last year’s numbers with ease with almost everybody returning. A tandem of Briean Boddy-Calhoun and Eric Murray is one of the best in the country. Jalen Myrick really stepped up as a sophomore and Damarius Travis just adds to that depth. Theiren Cockran has consistently been solid along the defensive line and Steven Richardson shined as a freshman. Jack Lynn and De'Vondre Campbell hold down the linebacker position while Jonathan Celestin should get an expanded workload. Minnesota’s defense has the potential to be very good, especially with a secondary that’s going to be one of the best in the country.
Special Teams: Ryan Santoso returns at kicker after making 66.7 percent of 18 field goal attempts. Peter Mortell returns at punter after averaging 45.1 yards on 67 punt attempts.
Overall: I’ve liked the direction the Minnesota Golden Gophers have been heading for a while now, and this team isn’t much different. I have some questions about the offense with so much talent leaving, but the QB play should improve in a faster offense and the defense is going to be very good. Don’t sleep on the Gophers, as eight wins for a third straight season isn’t out of reach.