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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Houston - LP: D. Keuchel 0 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: B. McCarthy 3
Cleveland - LP: C. Kluber 1 FINAL
Minnesota - WP: P. Hughes 4
Detroit - LP: D. Price 0 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: A. Cobb 1
Arizona - LP: O. Perez 0 FINAL
Washington - WP: R. Soriano 1
San Francisco - LP: R. Vogelsong 1 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: T. Wada 2
Atlanta - WP: J. Teheran 8 FINAL
Cincinnati - LP: D. Holmberg 0
LA Angels - WP: M. Shoemaker 2 FINAL
Boston - LP: R. De La Rosa 0
San Francisco - WP: M. Bumgarner 5 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: T. Wood 3
San Diego - LP: T. Ross 1 FINAL
Los Angeles - WP: C. Kershaw 2
Pittsburgh 21 FINAL
Philadelphia 31
Carolina 8/22/14 6:30 PM
New England
NY Giants 8/22/14 6:30 PM
NY Jets
Jacksonville 8/22/14 6:30 PM
Detroit
Oakland 8/22/14 7:00 PM
Green Bay
Chicago 8/22/14 9:00 PM
Seattle
Tampa Bay 8/23/14 3:30 PM
Buffalo
Tennessee 8/23/14 6:00 PM
Atlanta
Dallas 8/23/14 6:00 PM
Miami
Washington 8/23/14 6:30 PM
Baltimore
New Orleans 8/23/14 7:00 PM
Indianapolis
Minnesota 8/23/14 7:00 PM
Kansas City
St. Louis 8/23/14 7:00 PM
Cleveland
Houston 8/23/14 8:00 PM
Denver
San Diego 8/24/14 3:00 PM
San Francisco
Cincinnati 8/24/14 7:00 PM
Arizona
(21) Texas A&M 8/28/14 5:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Wake Forest 8/28/14 6:00 PM
ULM
Boise State 8/28/14 7:00 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Tulane 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Temple 8/28/14 8:15 PM
Vanderbilt
Rutgers 8/28/14 9:00 PM
Washington St
Weber State 8/28/14 9:30 PM
(19) Arizona State
Montreal 8/22/14 7:30 PM
Winnipeg
Toronto 8/23/14 3:00 PM
Edmonton
Calgary 8/24/14 2:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 8/24/14 6:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Ottawa 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Montreal
Winnipeg 8/31/14 2:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Washington 73 FINAL
Indiana 78
San Antonio 84 FINAL
Minnesota 88
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