Hartman: Gophers likely to start football season with a win streak

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 29, 2013 - 9:40 AM

Tonight’s foe has lost 22 road games in a row, and the Gophers probably will go 5-0 before October.

The University of Minnesota Athletic Department is admitting 6,000 freshman for free to Thursday night’s Gophers football matchup with UNLV and has sold 3,000 tickets to other students, and there are a bunch of other cheap ticket options for the home opener.

But I believe the game with the Rebels isn’t going to tell you much about how good the men of Jerry Kill’s squad are or what its prospects are for having a winning season.

The Gophers will face a team that has lost 22 road games in a row, and I look for Minnesota to dictate the score.

There isn’t a single player on the Rebels roster who has won a road game at UNLV.

Coach Bobby Hauck, who has presided over 20 of those 22 road losses, told the Las Vegas Sun this week, “We need to flip that switch at some point. Whether it’s this Thursday or not we’ll see.”

In fact, unless the Gophers lose to San Jose State, which is led by a great quarterback in David Fales, who had a 72.5 completion percentage last year for a team that was 11-2, I expect the Gophers to be 5-0 when they go to Michigan on Oct. 5.

There is lot of optimism at the Bierman Building among Kill and his staff.

“All I can say is we’ve had a great camp,” Kill said. “The kids have been focused in camp, they’ve worked hard, they’ve done what we’ve asked them to do.

“We’re a stronger football team and seem to have more speed. It has been fun to work with them; they’ve very coachable.

“To this point and time it has been a lot of fun and the kids have done a great job. Our expectations are like everybody else’s, and we want to be better than we were a year ago. I think we are, but you have to prove that. You can’t talk about it, you have to go out and do it.”

Kill added that the team is stronger than it has been in the past and said the one position that might be a concern is center, where injuries have caused some worries.

“We’ve had to do some things at center because of the loss of Zach Mottla and Brian Bobek is not cleared to play yet,” Kill said. “Jon Christenson has done a good job. We moved Tommy Olson over, who has done a good job. We do have a little bit of depth there. I don’t think you ever have enough. They’re all still learning.

“The only senior [on the offensive line] we have up there right now is Eddie Olson, and Eddie is coming off major surgery. So there’s still a learning curve there.”

Offensively a year ago, the team did pretty well. But the big problem was an improved but still deficient defense.

“The defense improved from the first year to the second year, and we expect them to improve from the second year to the third year,” Kill said. “I don’t think there’s any question about that. We made a huge improvement from Year 1 to Year 2 with the kids we recruited. It may take a little bit, but our coaches feel that we’re a lot farther along learningwise than we were a year ago.”

Yes, if quarterback Philip Nelson has a good year, I look for the Gophers to embarrass those media members who picked them to finish last in their division.

Jackson to join Wolves

Bobby Jackson, a great basketball player for the Gophers and for several teams in the NBA, is going to join the Timberwolves coaching staff as an assistant, according to President Flip Saunders. Jackson has a lot of familiarity with Rick Adelman, having played five seasons under him with the Sacramento Kings.

  • related content

  • Follow social media on StarTribune.com

    Sunday August 11, 2013

  • Head football coach Jerry Kill talked to his players at the end of the spring game.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Toronto 6:00 PM
Indiana
Cleveland 6:30 PM
Detroit
Milwaukee 6:30 PM
Miami
Memphis 7:30 PM
Dallas
Chicago 9:30 PM
Golden State
Washington 9:30 PM
LA Lakers
NY Rangers 6:00 PM
NY Islanders
Arizona 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Winnipeg 6:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Washington 6:00 PM
Columbus
Tampa Bay 6:30 PM
Carolina
Dallas 6:30 PM
Montreal
Detroit 6:30 PM
Florida
Colorado 7:00 PM
Nashville
Buffalo 8:00 PM
Calgary
Minnesota 8:30 PM
Edmonton
Anaheim 9:00 PM
Vancouver
Ball State 6:00 PM
Akron
Northern Ill 6:00 PM
Bowling Green
Western Mich 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Ohio 6:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Xavier 6:00 PM
Georgetown
Vanderbilt 6:00 PM
Georgia
West Virginia 6:00 PM
Kansas State
Central Mich 6:00 PM
Kent State
Saint Josephs 6:00 PM
La Salle
Nebraska 6:00 PM
Michigan
Miami-Ohio 6:00 PM
Toledo
Tulsa 6:00 PM
Tulane
George Washington 6:00 PM
VA Commonwealth
Pittsburgh 6:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Indiana State 7:00 PM
Evansville
Tabor College 7:00 PM
Oral Roberts
Florida 8:00 PM
Alabama
Tennessee 8:00 PM
Arkansas
Texas A&M 8:00 PM
Auburn
Baylor 8:00 PM
Oklahoma State
DePaul 0 Postponed
Providence 0
Michigan State 0 Postponed
Rutgers 0
Wyoming 8:00 PM
Utah State
Fresno State 8:05 PM
San Diego St
UNLV 9:00 PM
Nevada
SD Christian 9:00 PM
CS-Bakersfield
Colorado State 10:00 PM
Boise State
Temple 6:00 PM
UCF
Campbell 6:00 PM
Presbyterian
Coastal Carolina 6:00 PM
High Point
Gardner-Webb 6:00 PM
Radford
UNC-Asheville 6:00 PM
Liberty
Winthrop 6:00 PM
Longwood
Columbia International 6:00 PM
Charleston Southern
Tulane 7:00 PM
Houston
(3) Baylor 7:00 PM
TCU
Navy 7:00 PM
American Univ
Valparaiso 7:00 PM
Illinois-Chicago
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Do you favor the plan for expanded athletic facilities at the U of M?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close