Looking to Next Season

mjfelton15

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If you’re thinking this season was our best shot at winning the West, you may be wrong. Next year looks somewhat nice for us.
Iowa is going to be tested big time with their cross over road games against OSU AND PSU...that could be nice for us. Wisconsin at Michigan could help us. I actually don’t mind our chances getting to play Michigan here. They’re a great team obviously, but they don’t always do so great against ranked teams (hoping we are at that point) and Harbaugh is kind of a choke artist. I think it really helps us to have Iowa at home.

Michigan State on the road could be very iffy for us..they’re an odd/tough team for me to figure out still.

Wisconsin starts their season with their first game being against a quickly improving Indiana team that returns its QB, RB, and top WR, as well as many other key positions. That could be an early conference L for Wisconsin. Then they have Appalachian State, 11-1 this season and ranked #20. They’re known for giving good teams a tough time (ask Michigan). They then have to go to Michigan in week 4. So they have two games really early on, that could be extremely competitive. If Taylor does not return, they’ll likely be trying to figure out what their new system looks and feels like still. We could be looking at a Wisconsin team that is 0-2 in conference by week 4. The schedule doesn’t get easier after Michigan. They have Notre Dame right after that, in a Primetime deal that appears to be set to go down at Lambeau Field. I don’t envision that being anywhere close to an automatic W for Bucky. Then Wisconsin gets us at home, they could be either very pumped up after some impressive W’s or totally disheartened after L’s in a couple or even a few of the games I’ve listed. They could be 0-2 in conference, and as bad as 1-4 or 2-3 in their overall record going into their game with us. And I can say that without being called a total nut job. They do not have an easy schedule by any means in the first half of their season. After us it’s an easy stretch in comparison to the first 6 games. They could go undefeated in the next 5 until they go on the road to Iowa. It’d be nice to see Wisconsin suffer to the curse of November in Kinnick. Could end up being a huge deal breaker for our fate next season (exciting).

I actually think Gophers stand a chance of finishing ahead of Wisconsin next season. Iowa has tough schedule with an early road game against us. Then a few weeks later they have back-to-back road games against OSU and PSU.

If the Gophers can beat Wisconsin and Iowa in 2020, we could seriously SERIOUSLY see Iowa AND Wisconsin sitting with 3 conference losses by October 17th. Wisconsin being 0-3 in conference, and Iowa being 1-3 (giving them a W against Michigan State).

Gophers have to show up next season ready to go early on. There won’t be time to figure things out In the non-con like they did this season. Offense returns everyone with key losses being Johnson, Smith, and Brooks. I feel confident that Bateman, Autman-Bell, and Douglas or the 4 star freshman coming in will fill in nicely. Losing Smith and Brooks will hurt, but we return an extremely promising Ibrahim and have yet to see what Potts, Wiley, and Williamson can really do. Not to mention we have Bryce Williams, who had moments where he looked decent last season. Biggest questions are:
how do we improve on both O-line and D-line? Can we add depth to both?
does Winfield Jr. come back?
Can we see improvement at LB even after losing Martin?
How do we look without Coughlin?
Do we land commits or transfers that have immediate impact and/or can start right away?
 

Word

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Offense should be a little bit better, defense will probably be a little bit worse. Special teams can't get worse. We will probably be about the same overall.
 

Veritas

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Losing seven of eleven players off the D will make a big negative impact, especially early in the season. I do not understand how anyone with experience could see it differently unless they either wear rose colored glasses or just want to huff and puff. If Winfield stays and we get a couple of big transfers for the line it might not be so severe. I wish we had three cream puffs to start the season so all the new starters could get some more experience.
 

gopherjay

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Coaching staff needs to learn how to coach big games. We had some coaching gaffs that must be corrected. we will be good though.
 

Breakin' The Plane

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This may seem a little nuts, but root for Lane Kiffin to get Arkansas (or other). Yeah, FAU should be a win, but the first game of the year can always get crazy. Lane's a nutball, but he can coach.
 

NotAFanOfBecky

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Defense will be worse early in the year and get better as the season goes on and they get more seasoned. Nubin fills in for Winfield (he gone as they say) and will be a good one. No idea if line play is better, offensively it certainly should. Another year of experience and time in the weight room should help. Overall team could be similar and that's pretty damn good.
 

Bob_Loblaw

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Losing seven of eleven players off the D will make a big negative impact, especially early in the season. I do not understand how anyone with experience could see it differently unless they either wear rose colored glasses or just want to huff and puff. If Winfield stays and we get a couple of big transfers for the line it might not be so severe. I wish we had three cream puffs to start the season so all the new starters could get some more experience.
It all depends on Antoine Winfield Jr.

We will be returning a lot of guys who played significant minutes. You seem particularly focused on who actually started the games. In some ways, I get that. But lets talk about what we're returning.

Even without Winfield, we are returning 11 guys who played significant number of snaps (MDT, Schad, Teague, Mafe, Otumweo, Oliver, Sori-Marin, Durr, Howden, K. Thomas, St. Juste). We have a couple of guys who seem primed to take a big step up (Nubin, Willis, Cheney, D. Carter).

You act like it's blind optimism that some people like some of the young players. Many of these guys played a ton of snaps and it is common for players who flashed potential to improve significantly.

In my opinion, if Winfield returns, our defense should be similar, potentially better.
If Winfield does not return, we'll regress.
 

kix4kix

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Our LB core is losing two of our best players, but we should be quicker overall. Our DB core is intact as well. Don't we have a DL that had an Alabama offer in the pipeline?
 

fair

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From what I've heard from MSU fans, the Spartans are not going to be good at all next year. I'd expect them to be at a similar level as Purdue was this year.
 

MNVCGUY

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Losing seven of eleven players off the D will make a big negative impact, especially early in the season. I do not understand how anyone with experience could see it differently unless they either wear rose colored glasses or just want to huff and puff. If Winfield stays and we get a couple of big transfers for the line it might not be so severe. I wish we had three cream puffs to start the season so all the new starters could get some more experience.
Bob laid it out in his reply but you seem fixated on the starter label and unwilling to acknowledge that the second string guys, especially along the D-Line and at LB saw significant playing time this season. Defense rotates a lot more then offense does.

We are losing some leaders but we are not losing a ton of great players on defense. May be some adjustment early but I don't see the defense taking a major step back next year and ultimately the hope is it takes a step forward in line with the offense to help us reach the levels we all want to see the team get to.
 

Otis

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Offense has very few questions:

QB: Morgan B/U: Annexstead - Doesn't get much better than that!
RB: Mo and the returning freshmen. - I'd be worried if Mo goes down but Fresh didn't get much of a chance.
WR: Bateman, Autman-Bell, Douglas and enough underclassmen to replace the Rockettes! - No Worries, coach can mold these guys.
TE: ???? - I know we have blockers coming back. Would be nice to have a receiving threat. That would improve the offense.
Line: Solid - everyone is back. How can that not be good? Should get some recruits with some graduates and possible early entry candidates.

Offensive prognosis: It's tough to average 30+ points per game and repeat it, but that should be the floor for these guys.

Defense has loads of questions:
Line: Most of starters are gone, underclassmen did get PT and the Frosh saved their red-shirts and can even play in the bowl game. - Hard to predict but we don't really have a Nick Bosa to replace and it's easier to replace mediocre players. So, as long as they get coached up, we should be at least close to what we had this year.
LB: Ouch, Coughlin, Martin are players hard to replace, but they had their limitations just like the line. We had good play from several underclassmen when Martin was out. - Hopefully some of the guys can make a jump. This is our weakest area.
DB: Durr, St-Juste and everyone including maybe AWIII return - Easily the strength of the defense. We have another Winfield and Benny Sapp Jr. waiting to get their turns as well. Problem is, poor D line and LB play can make life very hard on even Patrick Ramsey and Xavier Rhodes level DBs. Much harder to get coverage sacks.

Defensive Prognosis: I don't think anyone outside the coaching staff knows what these guys are capable of next year. Maybe House could take a wild guess based off what limited footage there is of individuals. Most likely we see a decline in our play, which is very scary! We could see a return to Mason like scores next year, which would bring Mason like unpredictability! Saddle up! Might see some more BIG LEADS turned into 4th quarter losses.

Special teams: This has got to get better! Coaching can take care of this. Kickoff coverage could totally consist of back-up wide receivers! Teach them how to stay in their lanes and tackle! Find a freaking kicker who can be consistent. Pray our holder recovers and wins the Peter Mortell Trophy!

Prediction: Floor: 7 wins Ceiling: B1G west Champs! (No teams on the schedule we can't beat!)
 
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Not sure I share the view of a defense next year on par w/ this year. I'm by any measure an expert on the level of talent on defense but it appears we have at least 3 NFL players that are likely to leave - we kinda anticipated that at the beginning of the season - and several more starters that are graduating. Looking ahead to next year's defense, who are the future NFL players? Maybe there are some but seems at this point its only hopium to suggest a defense on par year-to-year.
 

tmvander

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I like the enthusiasm...I hope I'm wrong but I think we take a small step backwards next year. It won't be substantial, but I think 8-4 sounds about right.
 

MplsGopher

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I'm hoping -- selfishly -- that Mich St is going to go through a period of regression.

Basically, rather than MSU being a 9/10 win type of team, they will regress and it will be Indiana who picks up those wins, with both being 7/8 win types of teams.
 

MplsGopher

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Of course, it just seems beyond reasonable to hope that Nebraska can stay down around 6 wins going forward. At the very least, they should be as good a program as Iowa.

Ideally, need Purdue, NW, Illinois, and Nebraska to beat each other up, allowing the northern group (Minn, Iowa, Wisc) to compete for the division.
 

Schnauzer

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It is quite common to judge opponents based on what they have accomplished in the past. Nebraska gets picked to finish at or near the top of the B1G west every year. I predict a lot of national pundits will pick Purdue to finish near the bottom of the West but I think they will be quite good. They were absolutely devastated with injuries this season and they played a lot of young guys. They will be greatly improved. Illinois is trending in the right direction. Northwestern is too well coached to be that bad for long. Iowa, always a threat. Wisconsin, always a threat. About the only team I'd be surprised to improve much would be Nebraska unless their coach suddenly learns to quit throwing his players under the bus so he can create some sort of team identity to build upon.

So, I will go into next season very much the same way I went into this season, thinking the division could be won by any one of several teams. A lot of luck went the Gopher's way through 9 games this season. Injuries held off, bounces went right, opponents cooperated with poor play at times - and this all went together will a big improvement in play from the Gophers to result in a 10-2 record. I could see it happening again. I could also see a bit of a step back to 8-4 or even, gulp, 7-5.
 

MNVCGUY

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I like the enthusiasm...I hope I'm wrong but I think we take a small step backwards next year. It won't be substantial, but I think 8-4 sounds about right.
Way too early to get any really good read on things for next year but I could see us sitting at 5-0 heading to Madison for a big showdown with the Badgers. FAU and BYU won't be pushovers in the non-conf schedule but we get both at home. Iowa will be breaking in a new QB and won't have Epenesa plus we get them at home.

Back half of the schedule sets up really nice for a strong run to close out the season. Offense should be really good and hopefully take another step with a ton of returning experience. Big question will be how the defense and special teams hold up. If those units take a step in the right direction another 10-2, 9-3 type campaign feels very doable.
 

Veritas

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Bob laid it out in his reply but you seem fixated on the starter label and unwilling to acknowledge that the second string guys, especially along the D-Line and at LB saw significant playing time this season. Defense rotates a lot more then offense does.

We are losing some leaders but we are not losing a ton of great players on defense. May be some adjustment early but I don't see the defense taking a major step back next year and ultimately the hope is it takes a step forward in line with the offense to help us reach the levels we all want to see the team get to.
And hope is a wonderful thing, however I try to stay grounded in reality as much as possible. I have not seen in my many adult decades as a fan a team lose seven starters on D not be weaker the next season for at least, at least the first half of the season, except the most elite programs like Ohio State.
 

MplsGopher

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I will point out one thing: four straight home games and tailgates, in the month of September.
 

salzie

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I don't expect 10-2 every year, But I really want to see some consistency with winning (I know, the rest of you are ok with losing and winning once a decade, I'm unique that way /s). While it'll feel like a let down if we take a step back, if we get a trophy back, competitive in our loses and are in the B1GW race late in season, I'll be happy camper

I'll be really happy when we we win the damn thing, which I believe we will with PJ
 

A_Slab_of_Bacon

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I don't expect 10-2 every year, But I really want to see some consistency with winning (I know, the rest of you are ok with losing and winning once a decade, I'm unique that way /s). While it'll feel like a let down if we take a step back, if we get a trophy back, competitive in our loses and are in the B1GW race late in season, I'll be happy camper

I'll be really happy when we we win the damn thing, which I believe we will with PJ
Some Bo Pelini regularity would be nice.
 

MNVCGUY

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And hope is a wonderful thing, however I try to stay grounded in reality as much as possible. I have not seen in my many adult decades as a fan a team lose seven starters on D not be weaker the next season for at least, at least the first half of the season, except the most elite programs like Ohio State.
It really is a matter of what you are losing. We are losing some solid players but we are not losing much in terms of true game changers (Winfiled would be the exception here if he goes pro).

For example, Wisconsin is only losing Baun and Orr off their starting defense. But those are 2 massive losses. Those two combined for 23 sacks and 32 TFL this season. If you add up the sacks and TFL of Barber, Coughlin, Renner, Martin, DeLattiboudere, Devers and Williamson you get roughly 15 sacks and 30 TFL from the entire group.

You still have to replace all that production with new players, and there is no guarantee they won't struggle some, but it is not like we will be looking to replace great defensive players so the bar is not crazy high for those new guys taking over.

We have seen a noticeable uptick in offensive talent since Fleck took over. Next year will be our first true chance to see if a similar improvement is happening on defense.
 

A_Slab_of_Bacon

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It really is a matter of what you are losing. We are losing some solid players but we are not losing much in terms of true game changers (Winfiled would be the exception here if he goes pro).

For example, Wisconsin is only losing Baun and Orr off their starting defense. But those are 2 massive losses. Those two combined for 23 sacks and 32 TFL this season. If you add up the sacks and TFL of Barber, Coughlin, Renner, Martin, DeLattiboudere, Devers and Williamson you get roughly 15 sacks and 30 TFL from the entire group.

You still have to replace all that production with new players, and there is no guarantee they won't struggle some, but it is not like we will be looking to replace great defensive players so the bar is not crazy high for those new guys taking over.

We have seen a noticeable uptick in offensive talent since Fleck took over. Next year will be our first true chance to see if a similar improvement is happening on defense.
Just depends if Wisc has good guys behind them.

I worry with our defense that Winfeild was often a lynchpin that saved us ... especially with the games with missed tackles and etc. Some bad play and luck might result in our DBs playing 10 yards back or something :O
 

OldBob53

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How far we've gone when there's pretty realistic talk of winning the West next year.
 
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