Gophers football 2014 outlook

  • Updated: August 24, 2014 - 12:17 AM

As young quarterback Mitch Leidner goes, so might go the Gophers offense. The defense appears to be in good hands.

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The Gophers, coming off back-to-back bowl seasons, open another hopeful season on Thursday night against Eastern Illinois at TCF Bank Stadium. Here is a quick primer on the team as that first kickoff approaches:

The vitals

Coach: Jerry Kill, 144-94 in 20 years; fourth season with the Gophers (17-21).

Returning starters: Eight on offense, seven on defense.

Schedule analysis: The Gophers have what should be a tougher schedule than in recent seasons. Their opening opponent, Eastern Illinois, has upset potential after going to the FCS quarterfinals last season. Their third game is a rare nonconference test: a trip down to Fort Worth, Texas, to face TCU. And those final four games? Yikes. Iowa, Ohio State, at Nebraska, at Wisconsin. Could the Gophers have a better team but worse record? Absolutely.

 

Last year: 8-5 (4-4 Big Ten), lost to Syracuse 21-17 in the Texas Bowl.

Key departures: QB Philip Nelson, DT Ra’Shede Hageman, DB Brock Vereen, LB Aaron Hill, K Chris Hawthorne.

Key returnees: QB Mitch Leidner, RB David Cobb, TE Maxx Williams, DE Theiren Cockran, LB Damien Wilson.

Key newcomers: RB Berkley Edwards, DT Steven Richardson, DE Andrew Stelter, K Ryan Santoso, CB Craig James.

Greater than eight?

Jerry Kill has improved the Gophers by at least two victories in each season since his first at Minnesota: from 3-9 to 6-7 to 8-5. Can he get the Gophers to nine or more this season? Here are three things that must happen if they hope to improve once again:

 

1 Mitch Leidner is the biggest key. The redshirt sophomore shared time with Philip Nelson last year, playing in 10 games and starting four. He completed 55.1 percent of his passes, compared to 50.5 for Nelson, and those numbers must improve.

Leidner threw just one interception last year in 78 attempts, but he took seven sacks in the final two games. The 6-4, 237-pound Lakeville native is a strong threat to run, evidenced by his 24-carry, 155-yard, four-touchdown performance against San Jose State

But the Gophers must be careful. They don’t have another quarterback who’s taken a college snap, and backup Chris Streveler might not have the arm strength to be an effective Big Ten quarterback.

 

2 The Gophers should have a strong running game again, with David Cobb coming off a 1,202-yard season, and Berkley Edwards adding a big-play threat. The passing attack must improve, and this goes beyond Leidner.

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Kansas City 1 Top 6th Inning
San Francisco 0
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
New Orleans 10/30/14 7:25 PM
Carolina
Dallas 117 FINAL
Orlando 92
New York 70 4th Qtr 5:52
Toronto 68
San Antonio 50 3rd Qtr 2:45
Houston 68
Miami 69 3rd Qtr 4:41
Memphis 61
Minnesota 81 3rd Qtr 0:05
Chicago 91
Phoenix 30 2nd Qtr 8:48
Utah 38
Sacramento 9:00 PM
LA Lakers
Denver 9:30 PM
Golden State
Portland 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Dallas 2 3rd Prd 8:47
New Jersey 2
Tampa Bay 4 3rd Prd
Winnipeg 1
Vancouver 2 1st Prd 2:16
Colorado 1
Carolina 0 1st Prd 18:40
Edmonton 0
Columbus 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Connecticut 21 FINAL
(18) East Carolina 31
Miami-Florida 30 FINAL
Virginia Tech 6
So Florida 3 4th Qtr 14:56
Cincinnati 27
Troy 6 3rd Qtr 7:57
South Alabama 17
BYU 0 1st Qtr 0:45
Boise State 10
(6) Oregon 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Louisville
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Cincinnati 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Tulane
Tulsa 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Memphis
Purdue 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
(17) Oklahoma 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa State
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(22) West Virginia
Texas 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Texas Tech
Northwestern 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa
Maryland 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Penn State
Houston 1 2nd Half 30:00
Chicago 0
Montreal 23 FINAL
Ottawa 17
Saskatchewan 0 14:55
Calgary 0
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal
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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.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
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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