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Golden Gopher Potluck Part 3: Offense and Beer

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How will the Gophers do on offense this year?

NCAA Football: Minnesota at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

How will the Gophers do on offense this year? Go get your favorite Surly beer, or perhaps a Grain Belt, and let’s figure it out.

It appears that Demry Croft will take the reins the reins at QB (replacing Mitch Leidner), with Rodney Smith and Shannon Brooks at running back after a 2016 campaign for (Smith’s) 240 carries for 1158 yards and 16 touchdowns. Rashad Still, Eric Carter, Tyler Johnson, and Nate Wozniak and Brandon Lingen appear to be projected as the starting Wide Receivers and Tight Ends.

Besides redshirt freshman Conner Olson anchoring the line at Center, the rest of the line is composed of upperclassmen like Garrison Wright, Jared Weyler, Vincent Calhoun and Donnell Greene.

Offensive Line Coach and run game coordinator Ed Warinner comes to Minneapolis after five seasons at Ohio State.

Given all these upperclassmen, how will PJ Fleck’s offense do this first year?

LPW: Any side of the ball laden with upperclassmen has the potential to go far IMHO, however Demry Croft is inexperienced after playing three games in 2015 as a true freshman and then redshirting last year. Smith and Brooks behind a veteran line could scare me, but it depends on how Fleck uses these guys. Also, our friends at the Daily Gopher tell us that Garrison Wright, Vincent Calhoun, Jared Weyler, and Ryan Just are injured. That can’t be good. to Drew Wolitarsky is a big loss for receiving, so Still, Carter, Wozniak and others. I’ll just have to wait and see.

Aaron: Fleck ran the ball plenty at Western Michigan last year, but he still benefited for quarterback Zach Terrell completing 70 percent of his passes with 33 touchdowns and just four interceptions. Considering that Croft is a dual-threat quarterback without any Division I experience and that Wolitarsky was the only receiver with more than 25 catches last year, I’m thinking that the Gophers will run, run, and run some more in 2017. Look for both Smith and Brooks to eclipse 200 carries while Croft adds 150 on top of that. The effectiveness of the attack will hinge on Croft making big plays with his legs and using play action to free up his targets downfield. He’s got to make his completions count, because there aren’t going to be too many of them.

Stew: Bad. It’s gonna be bad. This is the B1G West, afterall. As for some thought in this? Well, new coach, new scheme, new QB, and a ragged OL. Yeah, the RBs are solid, but if all that needs to be done is stack the line, the offense is not going to go anywhere.

MNW: Whoa whoa whoa. We haven't spent nearly enough time answering the beer question.

You don't just "grab a Surly or a Grain Belt." Are you in the mood for hops, hops, and more hops because you KNOW BEER, goddamnit, and you're going to suck down a 7% beer at 96 IBU to demonstrate your alpha beermale status? Grab a Surly. Are you going to mow the lawn and sit on the deck and listen to the ballgame? Have friends over and just sip on something refreshing? Grab a Grain Belt — you won't be sorry.

But what if you say "You know, I'd sure like to be that person at the party who brings craft beer and looks like I know what I'm doing, but in reality I just like a nice gateway craft beer?" Meet Summit EPA, friend. Check out more of their stuff; it's usually easy-drinking, even the hoppier offerings.

How about if you're looking for something that makes you pucker up? Supports a time-honored Midwestern tradition of cooperatives? Grab a Mosaic or Simcoe Sour from Fair State Brewing. Perhaps it's another beautiful Minnesota Saturday and you'd like to brewery-hop. Well, no place better than Nordeast, where you can try Dangerous Man's Peanut Butter Porter (a must); Indeed Brewing's Wooden Soul sour, Stir Crazy winter ale, Rum King, and Day Tripper pale; Bauhaus' Uberduber; and a whole host of other excellent breweries.

"But MNW," you say, "I prefer the vastly superior St. Paul to Minneapolis. Surely there are breweries near their downtown?" And you'd be right! Start over at one of my favorite places in the world, Flat Earth Brewery, housed in the old Hamm's brewing facility on the resurgent East Side. Try the Black Helicopter Coffee Stout, the Sunburst apricot ale, and, if you're lucky, the Grand Design Smores Porter. No need to thank me, I know you'll be in ecstasy. After that, take a jaunt over to Tin Whiskers in the heart of downtown for some food nearby and fuel up with their Wheatstone Bridge wheat ale or Short Circuit Stout.

A third? You enterprising soul. The Mrs-to-be would be irate if I didn't send you to Bad Weather, on historic W 7th. Their Windvane Red IPA is a must, while she enjoys the Migration ale (brewed with rose hips) and we both enjoy anything vaguely revolving around their Ominous double brown ale.

You're still standing?! Head across the river for some authentic Mexican food on St. Paul's West Side and check out Wabasha Brewing. Their West Side Popper jalapeño cream ale is phenomenal and one they're awfully proud of, while I enjoyed both the Red Bonnet red ale and the Imperial Cave Stout. (Oh yeah, there are bitchin' bluff caves near by. Check out a tour!)

...I'm sorry, what was the original potluck question?

Minnesota! Where all the beers are above-average.