MARQUEIS GRAY'S PASSING
Nobody doubts Gray's running ability, and that figures to be a huge part of Minnesota's offense. But he has caught twice as many passes (48) as he has thrown (23) over the past three years, and his ability to put the ball where it needs to go might be this season's biggest unknown.
DUANE BENNETT'S STAMINA
Bennett is the Gophers' go-to tailback, just as he was last September. But after gaining 291 yards in the season's first two games, he had only 238 yards the rest of the way. The senior is in better shape now, but Minnesota must guard against wearing him down.
DA'JON MCKNIGHT'S KNEE
McKnight is the Gophers' most talented pass-catcher, but a sprained knee suffered last spring has lingered. Keeping the senior wide receiver on the field is critical to making Gray's life easier.
ZACH MOTTLA'S SNAPS
Senior Ryan Wynn expects to be ready for the opener, but if he's limited by his injured ankle, Zach Mottla will fill in. The switch wasn't always smooth during camp, so the Gophers must be careful not to allow fumbles to plague the center-QB exchange.
ERIC LAIR'S ROLE
Gophers coaches don't believe a linebacker can cover H-back Lair, so he will be moved all over the field to capitalize on his hide-and-seek skills.