Minnesota Golden Gophers
– The offense was good, efficient, and explosive. This wasn’t the normal Minnesota team with a good running game that was able to control games from time to time. This O was able to throw haymakers and stretch the field.
The Gophers finished sixth in the nation in yards per completion, was fourth in the Big Ten in total offense, and it was still able to stick to the brand finishing fourth in college football in time of possession. With nine starters expected back, expect the machine – no more boat rowing mentions – to be even more productive. Tanner Morgan was among the nation’s most efficient passers, and he gets Rashod Bateman back to make the air show click.
– The offense is loaded with veterans and stars from the breakthrough season ready to do a whole lot more. The defense … not so much.
Five Gophers were drafted, four of them were from the defensive side that finished tenth in the nation in total defense and was ninth in pass D. Seven of the top eight tacklers and nine of the top 12 are done, starting with do-it-all safety Antoine Winfield who’s now a Tampa Bay Buccaneer.
Fellow defensive back Chris Williamson is gone, as are linebacking stars Kamal Martin and Thomas Barber. However, the biggest early concern is a defensive front that has to find more killers on the outside and options in the interior.
– When is this whole offense thing going to kick in? It scored 34 fewer points than the 2018 version, it finished an okay fifth in the Big Ten overall, and it actually ran well – going for over 200 yards per game – but it wasn’t a differentiating factor.
It needs a jolt of confidence. It needs to know it can close out games and come through in the clutch. That comes with experience, and that comes with getting almost the entire starting group back … sort of.
Good freaking luck trying to figure out the Nebraska receiving corps considering the freshmen will play a huge role – and they should be fantastic. Now they need Adrian Martinez to grow into the type of quarterback who can make them all blow up. The O line is fine, and the running game will be decent, but the season is all about Martinez.
– The offense hasn’t been as good as hoped for, but the defensive side has been the bigger disappointment so far under Scott Frost. It struggles to come up with the key stop, it’s just okay against the run, and even with decent pressure in the backfield, it hasn’t been enough after finishing tenth in the Big Ten in total defense and 11th in scoring D.
Seven of the top 14 tacklers are gone and six starters have to be replaced. It starts on the defensive front where most of the top guys are gone. The secondary did a nice job overall, but it didn’t face a whole lot of high-powered passing games, and the linebackers are experienced enough to be better.