Only three players have taken all 417 offensive snaps for the Vikings this season: quarterback Kirk Cousins and guards Tom Compton and Mike Remmers.
Both Remmers and Compton are in their first year playing a new position after coming into the NFL as tackles.
Last season, his first with the Vikings, Remmers played 600 of his 675 snaps at right tackle before being moved to guard for the regular-season finale against Chicago.
How has the transition been through six games?
“It has been good,” Remmers said. “It has been a learning experience for me. I got a handful of games at guard last year, but that was just a little bit. Now that I have a lot more snaps, I have definitely learned a lot more about the position.
“I have been going at it and just been striving to keep getting better at [blocking for] the run and pass. That has always been my goal.”
Heading into Sunday’s matchup with the Arizona Cardinals, the Vikings had the worst rushing offense in the NFL, averaging only 65.8 yards per game. But they put together their best day running the ball this season with 195 yards on 32 attempts, a season-best 6.1 yards per carry, in a 27-17 victory.
The Vikings’ 4.1 rushing yards per attempt now is tied for 20th in the NFL.
Remmers said that even though he was pleased with the win, he saw a lot of things to work on before facing the New York Jets on Sunday.
“I’m pretty hard on myself, and there’s definitely a couple of plays I wish I did differently,” he said. “Both run and pass [blocking], you can always improve. There’s some things I would change, but I’m happy we came out with a win.”
Run game surges
Remmers, a seven-year veteran, said it can be difficult to stay positive when the run game isn’t working, but last week rewarded the team’s patience.
“It is one of those things that is kind of feast or famine,” he said. “Sometimes it doesn’t go your way and you might lose some yards or get zero yards but, you know, the next run you might run the exact same play and break it for 25-plus yards. You just never know.”
Latavius Murray once again filled in for injured second-year back Dalvin Cook, and Remmers said Murray’s physical style is contagious for the team.
“It was unbelievable,” he said of Murray’s 155-yard, one-touchdown performance. “He’s a lot of fun to block for. He was running really hard [Sunday], and the O-line, tight ends, wide receivers, everyone was blocking their butts off for him.”
Protecting a leader
Cousins has been sacked four times in three of the past four games and a total of 18 times this season, which ranks seventh in the league. On top of that, Cousins had seven passes deflected at the line by the Cardinals.
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said the offensive line is working to address those issues this week.
Remmers said the team has taken to Cousins’ leadership, and he knows how valuable it is to keep the quarterback upright in future games.
“He’s definitely a good leader in the huddle, and he helps motivate the guys when it’s needed,” Remmers said. “I think he definitely just motivates people with his play. … I think that definitely helps other people keep working harder.”
Family ties U defense
There is a feeling around the Gophers football program that Saturday’s game at Nebraska represents the start of the second season for this young team, with the 3-3 record in the first six games being a steppingstone to the final six.
One of the Gophers’ biggest stories has been their youth movement, with seven true freshman starting on offense and only five seniors starting overall.
But on defense, two of the biggest leaders are junior linebackers with long family ties to the U who have helped the Gophers rank 44th in the country in total yards allowed per game (354.2).
Thomas Barber is second on the team in tackles with 42 and has one interception and one fumble recovery.
Barber’s father was Marion Barber Jr., who is the Gophers’ sixth-leading career rusher with 3,094 yards from 1977-80. His brother, Marion Barber III, is fourth in career rushing with 3,276 yards from 2001-04.
Then you have Carter Coughlin, who leads the Gophers with 9½ tackles for loss and two forced fumbles.
Coughlin’s father, Robert Coughlin, played with the Gophers from 1986-90 and was a two-time letter-winner. His mom, Jennie (Moe) Coughlin, was a three-time all-Big Ten selection in tennis from 1989-92 and one of the greatest players in Gophers history. His grandfather, Tom Moe, was a three-time letter-winner in football and baseball from 1957-59 and was Gophers interim athletic director from 1999-2002.
• Three of the four teams still playing postseason baseball have a former Twins player. The Dodgers have second baseman Brian Dozier, who singled in one run in a 2-1 victory over the Brewers in Game 4 of the NLCS on Tuesday night and drove in another run on a groundout Wednesday in the Dodgers’ 5-2 win in Game 5. The Red Sox have third baseman Eduardo Nunez, who had to be pulled from Game 3 in the ALCS on Tuesday because of an ankle injury. The Astros have reliever Ryan Pressly, who has not given up a run in his first four postseason appearances.
• Former Gophers football coach Jerry Kill lost a close friend this week when Southern Illinois Chancellor Carlo Montemagno died at 62 from cancer. “This is one of the saddest days of my life,” Kill said in a statement. “We lost a great chancellor, a tough chancellor, a man with a vision, but most importantly a good man.” Kill said Montemagno was the reason he came back to Carbondale, where he was head football coach from 2001-07, to serve as acting director of athletics.
• Even though he hasn’t yet played a collegiate game, Apple Valley graduate and Duke freshman Tre Jones recently was named to the Bob Cousy Award watch list. The award is given to the top point guard in college basketball at the end of the season.
• Former Cooper basketball standout Rashad Vaughn is still without an NBA team this season. The Mavericks had signed him to a training camp deal but released him late last week. Vaughn was drafted in 2015 by Milwaukee, where he played for three seasons, then split time between the Nets, Pelicans and Magic last season. He earned $5.6 million in his first three seasons as a first-round pick and is still only 22 years old.