Three B1G Keys For Minnesota Against Buffalo
Phil Harrison brings you the big keys for games involving Big Ten teams each week. Minnesota is ready to kick off the season against MAC opponent Buffalo. What must they do?
B1G Key No. 1 – Embrace the Row the Boat Culture
It’s not like Minnesota had things going south before the arrival of the human energy drink. But, P.J. Fleck might just be what the doctor ordered to get the program over the hump.
That’s unlikely to happen overnight, but stay the course, play with energy and purpose — just like Fleck wants — and win the first game by every man buying in and putting their oars in the water.
It might not be pretty, but it wasn’t under Kill and Claeys either. This is about the long haul, but a victory in game one would get the undercurrent rockin’ (there are just too many analogies to help myself).
B1G Key No. 2 – Establish the Run
The Gophers are breaking in a new starter this year — er, scratch that, two new starters — as Fleck decided to name two because there has not been enough separation.
Eventually, either Rhoda Conor or Demry Croft will need to grab the reigns, but in the meantime, you can bank on the coaching staff riding running backs Rodney Smith and Shannon Brooks.
It won’t be glammer and glitz, but it’s the way to utilize the team’s strengths until development and confidence surfaces under center.
B1G Key No. 3 – Make QB Tyree Jackson Throw Downfield
Buffalo had a hard time doing much right on offense last year, but if there’s one area that needs the most work, it’s pushing the ball down the field. The 6-7, 245 lb. Jackson can pull it down and take off, but there were far too many inconsistencies in the passing game last year.
To make matters worse, the Bulls are breaking in three new receivers, so they’ll have to work on the car while it’s moving in 2017.
Look for the Minnesota defensive staff to commit defenders forward towards stopping the run first and foremost, and make Buffalo break in the passing game.
Phil Harrison is the lead Big Ten writer for College Football News. Get his opinion and analysis all year long. Follow him on Twitter @PhilHarrisonCFB