5 observations from Minnesota's spring game on Saturday ("Welcome back to B1G West contention, Minnesota.")

BleedGopher

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per Dustin:

Welcome back to B1G West contention, Minnesota.

Maybe it’s a little too early to make a hasty generalization after a spring game, but there’s no question that the Golden Gophers looked like a squad that had made some serious improvements from the 2020 season to Saturday’s scrimmage. The offenses were particularly impressive throughout the afternoon, and there didn’t appear to be many weaknesses on that side of the football.


Go Gophers!!
 

A_Slab_of_Bacon

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I hope they are in contention but I don't know how you know or don't know from a spring game.
 

MNVCGUY

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i heard we looked really bad so this is surprising
It wouldn't be surprising if you considered the sources that were saying we looked bad in the Spring game. Those bright rays of sunshine can always be counted on to bring their special level of complaining to any thread.

It will be very disappointing if we are not in contention for the West in 2021. We have tons of returning experience all over the field. I know lots of teams will have more depth than a typical year but we have to be in one of the best situations overall roster wise considering where our top returning experience is coming from. For example, having 9 guys along the O-Line that have started is not going to be a common occurrence for most teams.
 

Gophergrandpa

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I think our D looks much improved in the front seven, even though the article seemed to question our D some. I don’t think we will be nearly as a porous against the run. I think this is Terrell Smith’s year, and he and Coney will be good a CB pair. Safeties and nickel back are still a question, though we have experience there—but they will be fine if we get some pass rush pressure against top teams. If our D can keep some of the better teams in check, we will have all the offense we need. Two tough games to start the season will tell a lot.
 

A_Slab_of_Bacon

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I think our D looks much improved in the front seven, even though the article seemed to question our D some. I don’t think we will be nearly as a porous against the run. I think this is Terrell Smith’s year, and he and Coney will be good a CB pair. Safeties and nickel back are still a question, though we have experience there—but they will be fine if we get some pass rush pressure against top teams. If our D can keep some of the better teams in check, we will have all the offense we need. Two tough games to start the season will tell a lot.
I just hope we can contain on those edges better vs the run... PLEASE.
 

MNVCGUY

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I just hope we can contain on those edges better vs the run... PLEASE.
I have a feeling we are all going to be pleasantly surprised by the defense in 2021. We had so many new faces in 2020 and their off season was decimated by the pandemic. The key time they needed to learn and gel was taken away.

It was easy to see the improvement on defense over the course of the 2020 season as guys grew up and adjusted to their new expanded roles. Nearly the entire group is back along with some key transfers and the return of Oliver at LB.

I think a defense that ranks somewhere in the top half of the conference to go along with an offense that should be one of the best in the conference is very realistic for 2021 and that should lead to good results on the field.
 

stocker08

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Mo is going to rack up massive yards....and I think Morgan returns to form behind what should be one of the best offensive lines in the Big Ten. I was preoccupied so my focus wasn't entirely on the game....but CAB continues to show that if the ball is delivered near him.....there's a good chance he'll come down with it....and Jackson flashed a bit as well. No Bateman or TJ....but I think the line being as improved as we all hope.....this offense could be at least as potent as 2019 if a big play receiver emerges.

Defense has a few more question marks....but Fleck addressing the d-line with a couple of solid transfers is great. And I agree with gophergrandpa on the CB pair. Durr and Smith will be a really solid tandem.
 

A_Slab_of_Bacon

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defense that ranks somewhere in the top half of the conference to go along with an offense that should be one of the best in the conference

Me IRL if that happens:

nice.gif
 

short ornery norwegian

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It's going to be an interesting year. someone with more time on their hands than me will need to figure out how many players on other teams are taking 'covid years' and extending their eligibility.

I think that could be a key factor - not just for the added experience, but also the depth. The Gophs have (I think) about 95 on scholarship. How does that compare to the rest of the conference?

bottom line, with teams taking advantage of the situation to have older, more experienced and deeper teams (in theory), it could result in a very competitive conference race.
 

SanDiegoGopherFan

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We look big and athletic. Outside of potentially Ohio State, any losses we might have, will be by one score the rest of the season.
 

MGGopher

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I have a feeling we are all going to be pleasantly surprised by the defense in 2021. We had so many new faces in 2020 and their off season was decimated by the pandemic. The key time they needed to learn and gel was taken away.

It was easy to see the improvement on defense over the course of the 2020 season as guys grew up and adjusted to their new expanded roles. Nearly the entire group is back along with some key transfers and the return of Oliver at LB.

I think a defense that ranks somewhere in the top half of the conference to go along with an offense that should be one of the best in the conference is very realistic for 2021 and that should lead to good results on the field.
Agreed. I'm not expecting a top 5 defense in the conference, but something like 7 or 8 will be a VAST improvement over 2020 -- and I think that's quite realistic given the transfers (Pinckney and Gibbens in particular) and the return of Oliver.

On a related note, I don't think 2020 weak links MSM or Aune will be playing much by the end of the season. Lindenberg looked fantastic in the spring game. Gibbens was also in on a lot of tackles. Oliver didn't flash a ton, but he's probably the most athletically gifted LB. Throw in Gordon, Willis, and Burns...oh, and 2019 scout team player of the year Derrick LeCaptain (whom I'd never heard of prior to Saturday!), and I'm feeling a lot better about LB than I did 6 months ago.
 

btowngopher

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Agreed. I'm not expecting a top 5 defense in the conference, but something like 7 or 8 will be a VAST improvement over 2020 -- and I think that's quite realistic given the transfers (Pinckney and Gibbens in particular) and the return of Oliver.

On a related note, I don't think 2020 weak links MSM or Aune will be playing much by the end of the season. Lindenberg looked fantastic in the spring game. Gibbens was also in on a lot of tackles. Oliver didn't flash a ton, but he's probably the most athletically gifted LB. Throw in Gordon, Willis, and Burns...oh, and 2019 scout team player of the year Derrick LeCaptain (whom I'd never heard of prior to Saturday!), and I'm feeling a lot better about LB than I did 6 months ago.
I think MSM will continue to play a lot, maybe not as much as he has, but he will still play a lot. Oliver might be the most gifted athletically, but Gordon is up there too. I’d expect to see less Aune for sure, the line backing unit has become much more experienced and much deeper.
 

MNVCGUY

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Agreed. I'm not expecting a top 5 defense in the conference, but something like 7 or 8 will be a VAST improvement over 2020 -- and I think that's quite realistic given the transfers (Pinckney and Gibbens in particular) and the return of Oliver.

On a related note, I don't think 2020 weak links MSM or Aune will be playing much by the end of the season. Lindenberg looked fantastic in the spring game. Gibbens was also in on a lot of tackles. Oliver didn't flash a ton, but he's probably the most athletically gifted LB. Throw in Gordon, Willis, and Burns...oh, and 2019 scout team player of the year Derrick LeCaptain (whom I'd never heard of prior to Saturday!), and I'm feeling a lot better about LB than I did 6 months ago.
LeCaptain really popped during the spring game. Who knows, maybe he is the next Blake Cashman who walks on and earns a big role. Excited to see what kind of player Lindenberg develops into. He clearly got their attention last year as he saw significant playing time as a true freshman.

I know there is a lot of concern with our LB corps but I feel like this has a chance to be a really solid group and there does seem to be a fair amount of quality depth there as well. Might be a big part of why Brown decided to transfer out.
 

Gophergrandpa

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LeCaptain really popped during the spring game. Who knows, maybe he is the next Blake Cashman who walks on and earns a big role. Excited to see what kind of player Lindenberg develops into. He clearly got their attention last year as he saw significant playing time as a true freshman.

I know there is a lot of concern with our LB corps but I feel like this has a chance to be a really solid group and there does seem to be a fair amount of quality depth there as well. Might be a big part of why Brown decided to transfer out.
I like LeCaptain and Lindenberg; want to see Burns and Finnessy, too. I think that as the 2021 season rolls on, we will come to see the LB group as a strength. So much young talent/potential there, plus transfer Gibbens. Plus, I believe, improved DL play, giving the LBs a bit more freedom of movement. Question for me is whether the LBs become a strength early enough, against tOSU and Colorado, both of whom have formidable P5 ground games.
 

Gophergrandpa

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Agreed. I'm not expecting a top 5 defense in the conference, but something like 7 or 8 will be a VAST improvement over 2020 -- and I think that's quite realistic given the transfers (Pinckney and Gibbens in particular) and the return of Oliver.

On a related note, I don't think 2020 weak links MSM or Aune will be playing much by the end of the season. Lindenberg looked fantastic in the spring game. Gibbens was also in on a lot of tackles. Oliver didn't flash a ton, but he's probably the most athletically gifted LB. Throw in Gordon, Willis, and Burns...oh, and 2019 scout team player of the year Derrick LeCaptain (whom I'd never heard of prior to Saturday!), and I'm feeling a lot better about LB than I did 6 months ago.
Don’t forget Finnessy.
 

tmvander

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I hear some concerns about WR but we were slightly spoiled the past 4 years or so. We were used to watching two studs so naturally there are concerns over who will replace them.

I remember when Tyler was a freshman and thinking that guy is going to be awesome...well Daniel Jackson racked up similar stats, game time, etc. in his freshman year. I think we should be super excited about this group.
 

SanDiegoGopherFan

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I hear some concerns about WR but we were slightly spoiled the past 4 years or so. We were used to watching two studs so naturally there are concerns over who will replace them.

I remember when Tyler was a freshman and thinking that guy is going to be awesome...well Daniel Jackson racked up similar stats, game time, etc. in his freshman year. I think we should be super excited about this group.

Yeah, I don't think those ppl should be concerned. All you have to do is look at PJs track record with receivers. We'll be just fine, I think Boyd will be the biggest surprise.
 

MNVCGUY

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Yeah, I don't think those ppl should be concerned. All you have to do is look at PJs track record with receivers. We'll be just fine, I think Boyd will be the biggest surprise.
Boyd certainly looked the part in the Spring Game. Very curious to see what Simon can do with Wright as well.

WR is very low on my list of concerns as I think we will be just fine there. Honestly, outside of the uncertainty in the kicking game, I feel pretty good about where the team is at heading into the 2021 season.
 

short ornery norwegian

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with (hopefully) more depth at LB, I suspect the defensive coaches will do a little more mixing and matching - subbing guys in and out based on down, distance and field position. that in turn should keep everyone relatively fresh so the Gophs remain solid in the 2nd half.

Same is true on DL.

that is what gives me some hope for a better defensive performance. guys won't be as tired so they should be able to come up with a few more stops in the 2nd half.
 
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