Welcome to my first Gridiron Gold Mailbag. I hope to do a few of these throughout the season. Thanks for those who sent submissions on Twitter @JoeCStrib. Let's get to the questions:
@JoeCStrib what percentage of the "new" gophers offense did we see week one? It looked an awful lot like their "old" offense.— Matthew Sundeen (@matthewsundeen) September 7, 2016
Not sure of the percentage, but based mostly on what I know about Jay Johnson's offense from Louisiana-Lafayette, I think there will be way more to see. Those first three drives obviously were very vanilla. They opened things up more as the game went along. I think Johnson will show more each week but might be polishing things behind the scenes for a rollout at Penn State on Oct. 1.
Tracy Claeys said they need to lower their target when tackling. It was probably a good wakeup call. But I think it was more of a one-game issue and not an epidemic. They’d been called for targeting twice in four years, with both calls reversed.
As for redshirts, the four true freshmen who’ve played are Tai’yon Devers, Tyler Johnson, Antoine Winfield and Kamal Martin. I’d look for Carter Coughlin, Coney Durr and perhaps Kiondre Thomas to join them soon. That will be about it. I’d expect redshirts for Seth Green and the rest.
@JoeCStrib if B1G championship is MN vs Mich, is Jug on the line too?— Kris H (@HargoFett) September 7, 2016
I would say yes. Fun scenario to think about for both sides.
@JoeCStrib— Bill Eggers (@Littlehank2) September 7, 2016
How about using Johannesson and Femi-Cole in the RB mix? I hate to see so many reps for Smith's carriage so early in the season.
That’s a good point about wearing down Smith, but it was a close game, and he’s the veteran of the group, sure-handed, etc. Kobe McCrary is next, and I think then it would be Johannesson, followed by Femi-Cole. I’d expect to see more of McCrary on Saturday.
@JoeCStrib it seemed like OSt gained most of their yards on 3rd down. Is that accurate? Have Gophers acknowledged the issue?— Brian Lieser (@BrianLieser) September 7, 2016
The screen plays got them. They had good pressure all game – 14 QB hits. But their younger players (Devers, Martin) over-pursued at times, leaving them vulnerable to the screen, especially on third down. They’re aware of it, for sure, and should get better as those high-flying young players gain experience.
@JoeCStrib Joe: any realistic chance for a sellout at TCF Bank Stadium this year? Last Thursday nights attendance was depressing...— Craig W. Bursch (@CraigBursch) September 8, 2016
The crowd (44,582) was better than I expected, given the Vikings, Twins, prep football openers and the State Fair all going on at the same time. The Iowa game (Oct. 8) should be a sellout. But the home slate isn’t overly exciting, with Rutgers, Purdue and Northwestern to close the season.
@JoeCStrib did the targeting calls have more to do with the refs from the pac12 being more strict than refs from other conferences?— Joe Milner (@milnj00) September 8, 2016
I don’t think so. To me, those were all helmet-to-helmet collisions that needed to be called under the current rules. I do agree with the Gophers that Celestin’s penalty (into a sliding QB) could fall under the category of unavoidable, if they would ever add that to the rule. Maybe give the 15 yards in that case but not eject the player? Worth a thought.
@JoeCStrib Should fans be concerned at all about what has been a soft 2017 recruiting class so far?— Tommy G (@gophersnyankees) September 8, 2016
I understand your concern, if you're judging the 2017 class on the current rankings -- 78th by Rivals, 73rd by 247Sports and 60th by Scout. It's worth noting that the 2016 class was universally viewed as the best since Jerry Kill and Tracy Claeys arrived in 2011. I think getting Marshall lineman Blaise Andries was huge for this class. It's a strong O-line group, and with only 11 current commitments, there is still time for a strong finish.