Gophers predicted 3rd in BT West (True Freshmen to Watching: Brockington, Walley; Breakout Players: Autman-Bell, Mafe)

BleedGopher

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per Athlons:

3. Minnesota

The Golden Gophers were unable to build off their 11-2 record from 2019 last fall with a 3-4 mark in seven contests. However, with normalcy returning this offseason, Minnesota hopes to rebound in a big way for 2021.

Previewing the Offense

Strength:
Mike Sanford Jr. took over the play-calling duties last year, but the unusual offseason limited his ability to develop this group. A normal spring and fall practice should help Minnesota’s offense get back on track after averaging 5.7 yards per play in 2020. Quarterback Tanner Morgan, a strong offensive line and running back Mohamed Ibrahim are back in ’21.

Concern: Can Sanford get Minnesota back to its 2020 production (34.6 ppg)? Who steps up to replace first-round pick Rashod Bateman at receiver? Also, the Golden Gophers need to find an answer at kicker.

True Freshman to Watch: WR Lemeke Brockington

Incoming Transfers: OL Karter Shaw; K Matthew Trickett; WR Dylan Wright

Breakout Player: WR Chris Autman-Bell

Previewing the Defense

Strength:
The Golden Gophers struggled on this side of the ball last year but held Big Ten opponents to 20.1 points a game in 2019. Was the unusual nature of the ’20 season to blame for the dip in production? Each level of the defense features an All-Big Ten candidate – DL Boye Mafe, linebacker Mariano Sori-Marin and cornerback Coney Durr. Clemson transfer Nyles Pinckney should provide a boost to a struggling run defense.

Concern: The numbers weren’t pretty for this group in 2020. Minnesota allowed 30.1 points a game, ranked 12th in the Big Ten versus the run, generated only eight sacks and gave up too many big plays.

True Freshman to Watch: CB Justin Walley

Incoming Transfers: DL Nyles Pinckney; DL Val Martin

Breakout Player: DL Boye Mafe


Go Gophers!!
 

Full Speed Ahead

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... also from the article, we're the unanimous vote for the "Sleeper Team" award.

Sleeper Team​

Pick by Steven Lassan: Minnesota

Pick by Ben Weinrib: Minnesota

Pick by Mark Ross: Minnesota
 

MNVCGUY

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Seems like a fair breakdown. The West will be super competitive again as it likely will be most years.
 


MplsGopher_fan

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Seems like a fair breakdown.
Except for the bolded: "Each level of the defense features an All-Big Ten candidate – DL Boye Mafe, linebacker Mariano Sori-Marin and cornerback Coney Durr." I mean, anything can happen, but I'd be floored. If that freshman from Anoka developed well enough, Sori-Marin might not even start, right?
 


Gophers1992

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Except for the bolded: "Each level of the defense features an All-Big Ten candidate – DL Boye Mafe, linebacker Mariano Sori-Marin and cornerback Coney Durr." I mean, anything can happen, but I'd be floored. If that freshman from Anoka developed well enough, Sori-Marin might not even start, right?
Yeah that's pretty generous. If any LB is going to approach all conference it's gotta be Oliver or Gibbens.
 







hungan1

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The pressure is on, and the days are coming when Iowa and Wisconsin will be on the losing end of close games against the Gophers.

It's becoming a stressful date for teams to play against the Gophers.

They are getting better and better IMHO.
 

scools12

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With this season returning to normal a 3rd place finish in the B1G West and the Gophers with an outside chance of winning the division is a fair and accurate outlook.
 

MNVCGUY

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With this season returning to normal a 3rd place finish in the B1G West and the Gophers with an outside chance of winning the division is a fair and accurate outlook.
The order of the teams may flip some from year to year but I would expect the West to be like this most years where there are a couple of teams seen as the favorites, then a bunch that all could win the division, and a few that are bringing up the rear. It is a super balanced division.

Unlike the East, where right now Ohio State is playing a league of their own and is the clear cut #1 team in that division.
 



Plato

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In the BIG West it has always been talented depth at key positions that has made the difference between a great season and a so so season.
tOSU can plug gaps at almost any position and given the recruiting rankings so should PSU and MI.
By the end of September both MN, NE and WI will be tested enough to have an idea how the rest of the season will go.
 

MGGopher

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Nobody wanted to pick the Gophers to finish over Iowa or Wisconsin because it just hasn't really happened much.....but they all realize that it is a real possibility.
Yup, this is where I'm at as well. 8 or 9 wins and predicting losses to Iowa and Wisconsin. I'm worried about the second and third levels on D and a possible lack of explosiveness on O with question marks at WR and with Sanford. Plus, it's hard to predict wins over Iowa and Wisconsin when you just haven't seen it.
 




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