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Minnesota Golden Gophers Football Preview, Predictions, and Outlook // B1G 2018

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It’s time for Minnesota things. Sorry.

This is also how I look on most fall Saturdays too. Only with more hair and a tisch taller.
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

HELLO FRIENDS! Here we are, back on schedule with Minnesota! I’m sure you’re all as excited as I am that we’re going to take some time to focus on another season of P.J. Fleck.

Last Year

So. Yeah. The first year of the P.J. Fleck experience went a bit worse than some of us hoped. Failing to do anything creative on offense against at tipped-over Maryland, giving up 14 points in the last minute against Purdue was less than ideal, and pissing down our leg in Iowa City wasn’t fun to watch. I thought we’d go 7-5, and we ended up going 5-7. Whoops.

Offense

Year 2 (Or is Year 1+? I get confused by coachspeak sometimes) should be interesting for the Offense. Instead of a 2-man QB race, we’ve now potentially got a 3-man QB race. JUCO Vic Viramontes, RS-FR Tanner Morgan, and walk-on FR Zack Annexstad all showed flashes in the spring game. The team’s fortunes will rely on someone taking charge of the position and leading the team into the fall.

Rodney Smith returns for his SR year, and should once again be amongst the most productive backs in the B1G.

Once again, we’re have no idea what the WR position will be looking like. Leading returning WR Tyler Johnson should be productive again, Phillip Howard will get some chances to shine, and then a menagerie of FR and RS FR will be counted on to step up and catch the damn ball. The group of Rashod Bateman, Chris Autman-Bell, Demetrius Douglas, and Erik Gibson has the potential to be better than anything we’ve had in a while, and I’m very sorry for damning them with such faint praise. The loss of Jornell Manns for the season among that group will probably sting.

The OL will be improved simply by having enough warm bodies to actually play a spring game. Donnell Greene returns and should anchor the line, and the player I can’t wait to watch over the next few years is FR Daniel Faalele. The 6’9” 400 LB Australian absolutely dwarfs everyone else on the line and was a blast to watch run-block in the spring game.

Defense

Up front, Stove Richardson and Merrick Jackson will be replaced by Alabama transfer O.J. Smith and Royal Silver (great name, right?).

LB will undergo some change as Jonathan Celestin moves on and Carter Coughlin should return to the group after a year at DE. He, Thomas Barber, Kamal Martin, and Blake Cashman should all step up and hopefully tackle people.

All I need to say about the secondary is that Antoine Winfield Jr. is back and was granted an injury redshirt for last season. Everything went to shit after he went down with an injury in the first series of the Maryland game, and I like to think that it was all due to him leaving and not due to the schedule getting tougher.

Special Teams

Ryan Santoso graduated and moved along to the Lions. He shall remain in our thoughts and prayers. While he did rank 5th in punting average, there were a number of times where he didn't perform well. And we here in the B1G are all very disappointed that advanced metrics have not kept pace with other areas of the game. After the spring game, we have no idea who our punter will be. Hopefully he’s been doing his conditioning in case he gets quite a bit of work. Emmitt Carpenter returns for his SR season, hoping to replicate his SO year where he won the Bakken-Anderson Kicker of the Year as opposed to whatever last season was.

Schedule

Date Opponent

Aug 30 New Mexico State

Sep 8 Fresno State

Sep 15 Miami (OH)

Sep 22 at Maryland

Sep 29 University of Minnesota Police Department

Oct 6 Iowa

Oct 13 at Ohio State

Oct 20 at Nebraska

Oct 27 Indiana

Nov 3 at Illinois

Nov 10 Purdue

Nov 17 Northwestern

Nov 24 at wisconsin

Dec 1 B1G Championship Game

Dec ?? Bowl Game

If You’re Talking To A Minnesota Fan

Just give us a hug and offer us a Grain Belt.