Chart: 2013 Gophers football at a glance

  • Updated: August 24, 2013 - 10:45 PM
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Minnesota Gophers vs. Purdue Boilermakers football. Minnesota won 44-28. Gophers quarterback Philip Nelson completed a downfield pass. (MARLIN LEVISON/STARTRIBUNE(mlevison@startribune.com (cq -all names program) ORG XMIT: MIN1210271908593538 ORG XMIT: MIN1308231336366052

Photo: MARLIN LEVISON • mlevison@startribune.com,

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Gophers at a glance

The Gophers open their season Thursday against UNLV at TCF Bank Stadium. Here is a quick primer on the team as that first kickoff approaches:

Last year: 6-7 (2-6 Big Ten), lost to Texas Tech 34-31 in Meineke Car Care Bowl.

Head coach: Jerry Kill, 136-89 in 19 years, third season at Minnesota.

Returning starters: Nine on offense, six on defense.

Key departures: QB/WR MarQueis Gray, QB Max Shortell, WR A.J. Barker, WR Devin Crawford-Tufts, DE D.L. Wilhite, CB Troy Stoudermire, CB Michael Carter, LB Mike Rallis, LB Keanon Cooper, K Jordan Wettstein.

Key returnees: Sophomore QB Philip Nelson, junior RB Donnell Kirkwood, sophomore OT Josh Campion, senior DT Ra’Shede Hageman, senior LB Aaron Hill, senior S Brock Vereen.

Key newcomers: LB Damien Wilson, LB De’Vondre Campbell, WR/QB Donovahn Jones, DE Hendrick Ekpe, RB Berkley Edwards, WR Eric Carter, WR Drew Wolitarsky, K/P Ryan Santoso.

Schedule analysis: The Gophers should cruise past their first three opponents (UNLV, New Mexico State and Western Illinois). San Jose State went 11-2 last season and has one of the nation’s best quarterbacks in David Fales. If the Gophers win that one and defeat Iowa at home, they could be 5-0 with momentum heading to Michigan and Northwestern. After that, there’s a winnable game at Indiana, while Nebraska, Penn State and Wisconsin all visit TCF Bank Stadium.

Three keys to the season

1 An offense that scored 17 or fewer points eight times last season has most players back and needs to be more productive. The Gophers will rely heavily on the run behind a bulked-up offensive line. Nelson (above), who started seven games last year as a true freshman, might have a short leash if he’s not effective because redshirt freshman quarterback Mitch Leidner has come on strong.

2 The defense improved last season, especially against the pass, but the Gophers need to prove they can stop the run. They have a strong defensive line and much more depth in the secondary, but the linebackers are a big question. If Wilson and Campbell — both junior college transfers — come in and play well, this defense could be pretty good.

3 Like most teams this time of year, the Gophers believe they are bigger, stronger and faster. But injuries piled up quickly last year, as they used three quarterbacks (Gray, Shortell and Nelson) and three centers (Zach Mottla, Zac Epping and Jon Christenson). The Gophers got healthier in the month leading to their bowl game and played some of their best football all season in the loss to Texas Tech.

Predicted finish: 7-5 overall, 3-5 Big Ten, fifth place in the Legends Division.

JOE CHRISTENSEN



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Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
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Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
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Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
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(5) Auburn 9/18/14 6:30 PM
(20) Kansas State
Connecticut 9/19/14 7:00 PM
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Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
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(24) Nebraska
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New Mexico St
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(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
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Toronto 9/19/14 9:00 PM
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.
Sep 27 - at Michigan TBA
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern TBA
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

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