clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

2016 Preview and Predictions: Minnesota Golden Gopher Football

New, 149 comments
The Bank
Let’s do this.

It’s August, which means it is once again time for even the most jaded, logical Gopher fans to come up with predictions that will make everyone else in the conference mutter under their breath and shake their head at us. But is there actually something behind this optimism that usually leads to pain in November? Let’s take a look, shall we?

I. Case History/Opening Argument

A. Case History

2015 was once again proof that if Gopher fans wanted to be happy, they should try to be something other than Gopher fans. Injuries and the midseason departure of Jerry Kill made a 5-7 season with a bowl win (which we qualified for due to the most B1G of reasons: academics) yet another frustrating fall. Marked improvement was made by the team following the emotional retirement of Coach Kill, but the only wins that came were moral and pyrrhic. A 1-4 stretch with close, frustrating losses to Michigan, Ohio State, and Iowa led into an easy but costly win over Illinois. The depleted lines were no match for wisconsin yet again, and that was that.

B. Opening Argument

Let’s cut the crap. Here’s the deal: Minnesota has all-conference talent at nearly every level of the field. Whether or not they achieve that is to be seen. QB? Yeah, SR Mitch Leidner fits the bill. The steps he took from the beginning of last season to the end were amazing. RB? SO Shannon Brooks was expected to take the reigns as NEXT GREAT MINNESOTA RB, but he suffered a foot injury last week and is out 3-5 weeks. Thus, as is tradition at the position, next man up: SO Rodney Smith also showed flashes of brilliance last season and JUCO transfer Kobe McCrary has been some people’s pick to steal carries from the two SO studs. JR TE Brandon Lingen is among the best in the B1G, but won’t garner the preseason attention of his counterparts at Michigan or Iowa. WR is a question with the departure of KJ Maye, but SR Drew Wolitarsky returns for one more chance to avoid dropping his opportunity. SO Rashad Still looks to have all the tools to excel. On the OL, JUCOs Vincent Calhoun & Garrison Wright and SO Tyler Moore look to reverse the trend of the Gophers being soft and inconsistent up front. What I do know is that new OL Coach Bart Miller has put infinitely more guys into the NFL than his predecessor, because that number is greater than zero. (Have fun with Matt Limegrover, PSU.)

Defensively, the Gophers hope to improve on an already terrifying Top 15 nationally pass defense. While Eric Murray and Briean Boddy-Calhoun are gone, Jalen Myrick appears to be ready to step into the “Gopher CB that nobody except college football hipsters know about” role, while numerous kids (including KiAnte Hardin) vie for playing time. Damarius Travis also returns to provide Safety help that was sorely missing during his time lost to injury. MLB Cody Poock is yet another name that, if you’re not already aware of it, will be familiar by the end of the season. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention the DL. A group just decimated by injuries to the point of having an offensive lineman and a walk-on play DT in the regular season finale is healthy and should have improved depth. Steven Richardson, Scott Ekpe, Gary Moore, and Merrick Jackson should provide a very stout front as the defense transitions away from the 4-3. DC Jay Sawvel has plenty of toys to throw at opposing offenses right now, and I can’t wait to see how he does it.

II. Discovery

A. What we’ve written about Minnesota in the offseason

Cocktail Party

Coaches

Traditions

Bill C’s Preview

B. What we can learn from Pop Culture

Nothing. Pop culture is useless. Get back to work, you lazy clowns. Accounting is watching.

C. Schedule of Events

September 1st: Oregon State

September 10th: Indiana State

September 24th: Colorado State

October 1st: at Penn State

October 8th: Iowa

October 15th: at Maryland

October 22nd: Rutgers

October 29th: at Illinois

November 5th: Purdue

November 12th: at Nebraska

November 19th: Northwestern

November 26th: at wisconsin

III. Emotional Plea

Gopher fans shouldn’t have any emotions by this point. We’ve been worn down like a pebble in a stream. It’s just facts and results at this point. And here’s the facts: the 2016 Gopher schedule is 2015 Iowa soft. It’s something to be ashamed of if we had any pride left. But we don’t, so it’s ok. Now take another look at it. Between September 1st and November 6th, there’s Iowa and there’s nothing else. And Iowa is coming to Dinkytown. If you’re a Gopher fan and still capable of fear, this should be sending shivers up your spine. The last time everything came together like this was 2003, and it was more soul-crushing than watching your ex bang your dad in your childhood bed on top of your blankie. Everything is in place for this team to do the impossible and win the west: Experience and skill at every level of the field, a favorable schedule, and (perhaps most importantly) unfavorable schedules for other contenders. All we can do now is just sit back, drink heavily, and see how things unfurl in front of us.

IV. The Verdict

Aaron Yorke 7-5 (4-5)

Andrew Kraszewski 9-3 (6-3)

StewMonkey13 9-3 (6-3)

WhiteSpeedReceiver 10-2 (7-2)

Brian Gillis 7-5 (4-5)

MNWildcat 9-3 (6-3)

Creighton M 9-3 (6-3)

DJ Carver 8-4 (5-4)

MrAlnamiasIV 8-4 (5-4)

Candystripes for Breakfast 8-4 (5-4)

Graham Filler 8-4 (5-4)

babaoreally 6-6 (3-6)

Jesse Collins 6-6 (4-5)

Zuzu 9-3 (6-3)

87Townie 7-5 (5-4)

Thumpasaurus 6-6 (3-6)

Thomas Speth 2-10 (0-9)

OTE Staff Averages 7.5-4.5 (4.7-4.3)

(If you or someone you know can provide a new liver and clean blood for our beloved Mr. Speth, it would be greatly appreciated. Additionally, donations to help pay for shock therapy to get that matter that’s currently wasting space in his skull functioning would be welcomed.)