With suspensions decimating their secondary, the Gophers released a patchwork depth chart Friday night ahead of Tuesday’s Holiday Bowl.
The Gophers need to replace starting cornerback KiAnte Hardin, starting safety Antoine Winfield and reserve cornerbacks Ray Buford and Antonio Shenault. They were four of the 10 players suspended last week in connection with an alleged Sept. 2 sexual assault.
The Gophers now list Jalen Myrick and Coney Durr as starting cornerbacks with Damarius Travis and Duke McGhee as starting safeties. Durr is a true freshman who has played only sparingly this season. Eric Amoako is listed as the backup at both cornerback positions, with Adekunle Ayinde and Jacob Huff listed as backup safeties.
Minnesota will need all those defensive backs and more, when it faces a Washington State team that ranks second nationally in passing yards per game (370.8). The Cougars are the only team in the country with five players who’ve made 40-plus receptions.
Five of the Gophers other six suspended players – running back Carlton Djam, safety Dior Johnson, defensive lineman Tamarion Johnson and quarterbacks Seth Green and Mark Williams – were never expected to play in the Holiday Bowl.
Kobe McCrary was third on the tailback depth chart before getting suspended, and James Johannesson has transferred to North Dakota. So if the Gophers want to give carries to someone besides Rodney Smith and Shannon Brooks, James Femi-Cole could be third in line at tailback.
Hardin was also the team’s primary punt returner, but Eric Carter is now listed as the starter at that spot.