The Call: Gophers vs. Eastern Illinois

  • Updated: August 28, 2014 - 1:20 AM
hide

Gophers QB Mitch Leidner will need to find a rhythm with his receivers.

6 p.m., TCF Bank Stadium • TV: Big Ten Net. • Radio: 107.9-FM

Line: No line (FCS opponent) • Series: First meeting

By JOE CHRISTENSEN • joe.christensen@startribune.com

 

THE OPPONENT

Eastern Illinois plays in the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA), but the Panthers opened last year with a 40-19 victory at San Diego State, stunning a team that finished 6-2 in the Mountain West Conference. With a prolific offense, EIU went 12-2 and lost to Towson in the FCS quarterfinals. But now the Panthers must replace record-setting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

GOPHERS OFFENSE VS. panthers DEFENSE

Eastern Illinois’ new head coach, Kim Dameron, has 15 years of experience as a defensive coordinator, most recently at Louisiana Tech. EIU returns seven starters from a defense that forced a whopping 37 turnovers last year. But the Panthers must replace both starting cornerbacks, which could help Mitch Leidner establish a rhythm with his wide receivers. Advantage: Gophers.

panthers OFFENSE VS. GOPHERS DEFENSE

Andrew Manley passed for 288 yards and three TDs to help New Mexico State beat the Gophers in 2011. Now, Manley is one of two EIU QBs fighting to replace Garoppolo. The other is Jalen Whitlow, who started 15 games for Kentucky before transferring to EIU. The Panthers use a high-tempo, spread offense, but the Gophers are well-equipped to handle it with a deep secondary. Advantage: Gophers.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Gophers coach Jerry Kill has said he’ll use two place-kickers this year — Ryan Santoso and Andrew Harte. Junior punter Peter Mortell ranked third in the Big Ten last year with a 43.3-yard average. Advantage: Gophers.

 

INTANGIBLES

The forecast calls for rain, which should favor the Gophers, who can control the ball on the ground, while Eastern Illinois likes to air it out. Incoming freshmen students got free tickets, as part of Welcome Week, but the weather could limit the turnout.

Advantage: Gophers.

PREDICTION

Kill drew comparisons between Eastern Illinois and North Dakota State to remind everyone this won’t be easy. But with a new coach and new quarterbacks, the Panthers could be scrambling to iron out first-game kinks. The Gophers will pull away in the second half.

  • related content

  • As season opens, Gophers seek offensive playmakers

    Thursday August 28, 2014

    The Gophers will need offensive playmakers to emerge if they are going to avoid another slump like 2013’s 13-quarter drought that sunk their season.

  • Andrew Manley is fighting to replace Jimmy Garoppolo.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Atlanta - WP: E. Stults 4 FINAL
Detroit - LP: J. Chamberlain 2
Washington - LP: X. Cedeno 2 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: M. Wacha 6
Philadelphia 4 FINAL
Pittsburgh 18
Baltimore 6 FINAL
Tampa Bay 6
Miami - LP: D. Haren 1 FINAL
NY Mets - WP: R. Montero 7
San Diego 6 FINAL
Cincinnati 3
San Francisco 5 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 8
Colorado 2 FINAL
Oakland 11
LA Angels - LP: N. Tropeano 3 FINAL
Seattle - WP: T. Walker 5
Cleveland 4 FINAL
Chicago WSox 1
Kansas City 11 FINAL
Texas 7
Los Angeles 4 FINAL
Arizona 2
Toronto 7 FINAL
Houston 4
Minnesota - LP: C. Johnson 2 FINAL
Boston - WP: J. Masterson 14
Boston 116 FINAL
Charlotte 104
LA Lakers 113 FINAL
Philadelphia 111
Houston 96 FINAL
Toronto 99
Milwaukee 88 FINAL
Atlanta 101
Sacramento 83 FINAL
Memphis 97
Utah 104 FINAL
Minnesota 84
Phoenix 86 FINAL
Portland 109
Tampa Bay 5 FINAL
Montreal 3
Vancouver 4 FINAL
St. Louis 1
Calgary 5 FINAL
Dallas 3
Los Angeles 1 FINAL
Chicago 4
Edmonton 4 FINAL
Colorado 1
Buffalo 4 FINAL
Arizona 1
ULM 58 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 65
Dayton 70 FINAL
(1) Connecticut 91
(6) Tennessee 48 FINAL
(4) Maryland 58
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: Who are you rooting for in the NCAA Final Four?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close