Chart: Five story lines for Gophers football

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 26, 2012 - 12:42 AM
Five story lines that could define the Gophers' season:

1 GRAY MATTER

MarQueis Gray wasn't happy with how he played last year, which makes the Gophers happy about this year. The unquestioned leader of the team looks like a far more confident passer, and more patient in the pocket, but now he must prove the improvement is real. Ramping his completion percentage above 50 percent would be a great start.

2 GET A BACKBONE

The Gophers were the second-worst Big Ten team at stopping the run, and the problem began right up the middle. Now they have two new defensive tackles, a new middle linebacker and two new safeties, all with the responsibility of bottling up the run. Show a little more containment, and perhaps Minnesota can cut down opponents' 44 percent third-down conversion rate.

3 SOMEBODY HELP HIM

Gray is the triggerman, but he can't move the ball by himself. Trouble is, the Gophers don't quite know who -- if anyone -- will emerge as an offensive force. Only Brandon Green has ever scored a TD among the receivers; only Donnell Kirkwood has ever gotten into the end zone among the tailbacks. Adding to that number, among a raft of candidates, is a priority.

4 FASTER IS BETTER

The Gophers lacked speed and experience in a number of defensive positions, so they shuffled their lineup to juice their quickness. Cornerbacks-turned-safeties Brock Vereen and Derrick Wells undoubtedly make the secondary quicker, and former safety James Manuel makes a swift linebacker. The Gophers hope they are as fast at learning a position as they are at running.

5 EXPECT MORE

Confidence was a problem after a rough start last year, when the Gophers dropped winnable nonconference games, then got steamrolled by their first three Big Ten opponents. It showed in particular in the first quarter, when they were outscored 106-38. These Gophers appear more confident, but are they still fragile? A fast, successful start, to the season and to each game, would help a lot.

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Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
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(6) Jacksonville St 7 FINAL
(8) Michigan State 45
Bowling Green 31 FINAL
Western Ky 59
TX-San Antonio 27 FINAL
Houston 7
Colorado State 31 FINAL
Colorado 17
UNLV 13 FINAL
Arizona 58
Penn State 26 FINAL
UCF 24
Troy 10 FINAL
UAB 48
(7) UCLA 28 FINAL
Virginia 20
Western Mich 34 FINAL
Purdue 43
(5) Ohio State 34 FINAL
Navy 17
Appalachian St 14 FINAL
Michigan 52
Ga Southern 23 FINAL
NC State 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Massachusetts 7
West Virginia 20 4th Qtr 14:25
(2) Alabama 30
Rice 10 4th Qtr 7:47
(17) Notre Dame 41
(10) South Dakota St 18 4th Qtr 7:52
(24) Missouri 35
Fla Atlantic 7 3rd Qtr 1:22
(22) Nebraska 48
California 31 4th Qtr 10:04
Northwestern 21
Marshall 28 4th Qtr 12:46
Miami-Ohio 20
UC Davis 0 3rd Qtr 1:00
(11) Stanford 38
Arkansas 21 3rd Qtr 3:30
(6) Auburn 28
(16) Clemson 7 1st Qtr 0:34
(12) Georgia 14
Liberty 0 1st Qtr 7:52
(23) North Carolina 7
Ohio U 7 1st Qtr 7:04
Kent State 0
Louisiana Tech 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 6:00 PM
Florida
Stephen F Austin 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 7:00 PM
Texas
(1) Florida State 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
SMU 9/6/14 11:00 AM
North Texas
Fla Atlantic 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Army
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Toledo
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
(8) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(22) Nebraska
Central Mich 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Akron 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Western Ill 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(14) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
(4) Oklahoma 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tulsa
Western Ky 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
SC State 9/6/14 11:30 AM
(16) Clemson
Navy 9/6/14 12:00 PM
Temple
UAB 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Miss State
South Alabama 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Kent State
New Mexico St 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Fresno State 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Utah
(1) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
(25) Washington
(15) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(11) Stanford
Ohio U 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Middle Tennessee 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Northern Ill 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Missouri State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Ball State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Iowa
Maryland 9/6/14 2:30 PM
So Florida
Eastern Mich 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Florida
Georgia Tech 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Tulane
(18) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Vanderbilt
Old Dominion 9/6/14 5:00 PM
NC State
(8) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(19) Arizona State 9/6/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico
Louisiana Tech 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
San Jose St 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(6) Auburn
East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Duke 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Troy
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(17) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(13) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(21) Texas A&M
Northwestern St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Citadel 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(1) Florida State
San Diego St 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(5) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(7) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Texas Tech 9/6/14 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
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Seattle 1
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Toronto FC 0
Columbus 6:30 PM
Montreal
FC Dallas 7:30 PM
Chicago
Real Salt Lake 9:30 PM
San Jose
Portland 9:30 PM
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Hamilton
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Calgary
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
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Edmonton
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Winnipeg
Chicago 6:00 PM
Indiana

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