2017 Prespring Rankings: No. 39 Minnesota Golden Gophers
The 2017 prespring college football rankings, taking the first look at the Minnesota Golden Gophers
No. 39: Minnesota Golden Gophers
Minnesota Golden Gophers Prespring Status
Just when it seemed like Minnesota was about to take off under Tracy Claeys, the boycott conversation happened, the controversy happened, and then P.J. Fleck happened. All the drama overshadowed a season and a team that was in the Big Ten title hunt until the last weekend, and then dominated Washington State in a brilliant Holiday Bowl performance. The offense wasn’t good, the defense was great, and the 9-4 season would’ve been excellent under any other circumstances.
So what does Fleck get to work with? The offense wasn’t anything special, but it could run. Eight starters are back, losing QB Mitch Lender, top target Drew Wolitarsky, and OT Jonah Persig, but just five starters return on the D that was so excellent.
Minnesota Golden Gophers Biggest Issue
The suspensions. Putting this all purely in football terms, nine of the ten suspended players were underclassmen, with most of them expected to make plenty of noise coming into this season. However, four of the players were cleared in the sexual assault allegations, led by rising-star S Antoine Winfield Jr., who’s expected to come back to the team. He needs to help a secondary that loses S Damarius Thomas and CB Jalen Myrick.
Minnesota Golden Gophers Biggest Positive
The ground game should be fantastic. The passing attack needs a whole bunch of help, but with the return of Rodney Smith, Shannon Brooks, and off the suspension, Koby McCrary, look out. Four of the starters return up front to pave the way, but now the Gophers have to come up with a starting quarterback.
Really, Why Are The Minnesota Golden Gophers Ranked Here?
Fleck inherits a solid team that should be just tough enough running the ball, and just good enough defensively, to not drop too far. There needs to be more of a passing game, and getting by with just 357 total yards per game isn’t going to fly, but it’ll still be a tough out every Saturday. There might not be anything spectacular coming from the offense, but Fleck will bring his flair and style to open it up a bit more.