How do they replace Maxx Williams and Drew Goodger?
Lincoln Plsek will become the primary blocking tight end, filling Goodger's role, with Brandon Lingen and Nate Wozniak behind him. The pass-catching tight end role, played so brilliantly by Williams, could be filled by Duke Anyanwu, once he is fully recovered from ACL surgery. Nick Hart, a walk-on from Prior Lake, also has been coming on strongly in that role.
Who starts on the offensive line?
Tommy Olson and Zac Epping graduated, and expected starter Jon Christenson will miss spring practice after having a rod removed from his left leg. Christenson and Connor Mayes are candidates to start at center or guard. The Gophers will experiment with the 6-5 Josh Campion at guard, hoping they can put the 6-7 Ben Lauer at left tackle, with the 6-9 Jonah Pirsig at right tackle.
How good are the redshirt receivers?
Jerry Kill raves about the four receivers who redshirted last fall: Isaiah Gentry, Desmond Gant, Melvin Holland and Jerry Gibson. "I know Coach is pretty high on them, and I can see why," offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover said. "Are they going to be complete receivers on April 11? Probably not. Are they going to be complete receivers on Sept. 1? Probably not. You've got to get through the growing pains with them, let them work against a darn good secondary for the next six months."
How do they replace Damien Wilson?
The starting middle linebacker job is open, with Wilson graduated. One candidate is Cody Poock, a junior college transfer who was in line to start at outside linebacker last spring before tearing an ACL. Everett Williams was Wilson's backup last season as a true freshman. And Jack Lynn played middle linebacker behind Wilson in 2013 before moving to a starting outside linebacker spot last season.
How much can Mitch Leidner improve?
When Philip Nelson left the program in January 2014, Leidner became the main quarterback option and got thrust into a team-wide leadership role as a redshirt sophomore. "I thought Mitch really settled down as the season went on, and I think there's a comfort level," Limegrover said. "There's just an air about him that's completely different than it was last February, just because it's like, 'I've been through this all for a year. I'm going to be the starter. I'm going to be the guy.' There's just a calmness to him now that I really like."