When MarQueis Gray was injured Saturday, that didn't just remove the starting quarterback from the Gophers' lineup. It removed a couple of tailbacks, too.
That's because plays designed for K.J. Maye and Devon Wright had mostly been practiced with Gray, and less so with Max Shortell. Until the coaching staff was certain that the backup quarterback was comfortable with those plays, offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover said, they didn't want to use them during a game.
"Sometimes certain packages are tied in to the personnel on the field. So to be honest, there were some things with both of those guys that we would have done with MarQueis that we weren't going to do with Max," Limegrover said. "So when MarQueis went down, that kind of stripped that part of (the game plan) away."
Maye, a freshman, had five carries against New Hampshire, and Wright, a sophomore, had three. But against Western Michigan, though both played, neither carried the ball; Maye threw an option pass in the third quarter that fell incomplete.
Limegrover expects both players' role to increase against Syracuse. "We'll make sure that we have more with those guys in there with Max," Limegrover said. "There are just certain parts of our gameplan that Max fits into better."
In addition to Gray, listed as questionable on the team's injury report, the Gophers may also be without starting center Zach Mottla for the second straight week with an ankle injury, plus linebacker Lamonte Edwards, who suffered a concussion during last week's game, and receiver Andre McDonald, hospitalized Thursday with an undisclosed illness. Definitely out is cornerback Martez Shabazz with a dislocated toe.