Minnesota Football: Depth Chart & Injury Report vs Northwestern Wildcats

Leon Halip

Very few changes this week as we look at a first half of the season to forget and hope positive change starts Saturday against Northwestern.

The depth chart and injury report for this Saturday's tilt with Northwestern. The Gopher site says 11am on E!SPN2, so we'll go with that.

OFFENSE

Left Tackle

78 - Ben Lauer 6-6 302 R-Fr. Plymouth, Minn. (Wayzata HS)

58 - Ed Olson 6-7 309 R-Sr. Mahtomedi, Minn. (Mahtomedi HS)

Left Guard

52 - Zac Epping 6-2 321 R-Jr. Kenosha, Wis. (Tremper HS)

73 - Joe Bjorklund 6-5 288 R-So. Rosemount, Minn. (Rosemount HS)

Center

63 - Jon Christenson 6-4 306 R-So. Minnetonka, Minn. (Minnetonka HS)

53 - Tommy Olson 6-4 301 Jr. Mahtomedi, Minn. (Mahtomedi HS)

Right Guard

64 - Caleb Bak 6-3 302 R-Jr. Columbia Heights, Minn. (Concordia Academy)

77 - Foster Bush 6-5 303 R-So. Menasha, Wis. (Menasha HS)

Right Tackle

65 - Josh Campion 6-5 326 R-So. Fergus Falls, Minn. (Fork Union Military Academy)

79 - Jonah Pirsig 6-9 308 R-Fr. Blue Earth, Minn. (Blue Earth Area HS)

Quarterback

7 - Mitch Leidner 6-4 233 R-Fr. Lakeville, Minn. (Lakeville South HS)

9 - Philip Nelson 6-2 215 So. Mankato, Minn. (Mankato West HS)

Tailback

35 - Rodrick Williams Jr. 5-11 235 So. Lewisville, Texas (Lewisville HS)

OR

27 - David Cobb 5-11 225 Jr. Killeen, Texas (Ellison HS)

20- Donnell Kirkwood 5-10 233 R-Jr. Delray Beach, Fla. (Atlantic)

H-Back/Fullback

30 - Mike Henry 6-1 231 R-Sr. Mahtomedi, Minn. (Mahtomedi HS)

OR

88 - Maxx Williams 6-4 254 R-Fr. Waconia, Minn. (Waconia HS)

Y

83 - Drew Goodger 6-5 265 So. Shawnee Mission, Kan. (Northwest HS)

85 - Lincoln Plsek 6-4 265 So. Waco, Texas (Reicher HS)

Z

14 - Isaac Fruechte 6-3 204 R-Jr. Caledonia, Minn. (Rochester CTC)

1 - KJ Maye 5-10 197 So. Mobile, Ala. (Murphy HS)

OR

16- Jamel Harbison 5-11 199 R-Fr. Charlotte, N.C. (Mallard Creek HS)

H

18 - Derrick Engel 6-2 187 R-Sr. Chaska, Minn. (Winona State)

17 - Logan Hutton 6-1 181 R-Jr. La Marque, Texas (La Marque HS)

X

4 - Donovahn Jones 6-3 190 Fr. Stockbridge, Ga. (Dutchtown HS)

82 - Drew Wolitarsky 6-3 208 Fr. Santa Clarita, Calif. (Canyon County HS)

DEFENSE

End

98 - Michael Amaefula 6-2 244 Jr. Arlington, Texas (Bowie HS)

95 - Hank Ekpe 6-5 251 Fr. Lewisville, Texas (Lewisville HS)

Tackle

46 - Cameron Botticelli 6-5 290 R-Jr. Milwaukee, Wis. (Marquette University HS)

92 - Roland Johnson 6-1 286 Sr. Camden, S.C. (Butler CC)

Nose

99 - Ra'Shede Hageman 6-6 311 R-Sr. Minneapolis, Minn. (Washburn HS)

97 - Scott Ekpe 6-4 281 So. Lewisville, Texas (Lewisville HS)

End

55 - Theiren Cockran 6-6 238 R-So. Homestead, Fla. (Homestead HS)

91 - Alex Keith 6-3 237 So. Columbia, Mo. (Hickman HS)

Strongside Linebacker

57 - Aaron Hill 6-2 231 R-Sr. St. Charles, Mo. (Lutheran HS)

56 - Nick Rallis 5-11 227 R-Fr. Edina, Minn. (Edina HS)

Middle Linebacker

5 - Damien Wilson 6-2 254 Jr. Gloster, Miss. (Jones County CC)

50 - Jack Lynn 6-3 234 R-Fr. Lake Zurich, Ill. (Lake Zurich HS)

Weakside Linebacker

9 - James Manuel 6-2 225 Sr. Indianapolis, Ind. (Warren Central HS)

26 - De'Vondre Campbell 6-5 225 R-So. Fort Myers, Fla. (Hutchinson CC)

Cornerback

31 - Eric Murray 6-0 194 So. Milwaukee, Wis. (Riverside University HS)

3 - Martez Shabazz 5-11 172 Sr. DeSoto, Texas (Trinity Valley CC)

Safety

21 - Brock Vereen 6-0 202 Sr. Valencia, Calif. (Valencia HS)

11 - Antonio Johnson 6-0 207 So. Cleveland, Ohio (Shaker Heights HS)

Safety

2 - Cedric Thompson 5-10 211 Jr. Calipatria, Calif. (Calipatria HS)

7 - Damarius Travis 6-2 208 So. Pensacola, Fla. (Pensacola HS)

Cornerback

13 - Derrick Wells 6-0 206 Jr. Lehigh Acres, Fla. (Lehigh HS)

22 - Jeremy Baltazar 6-0 197 Sr. Corona, Calif. (Blinn College)

SPECIAL TEAMS

Kicker

36 - Chris Hawthorne 6-6 200 Sr. Raleigh, N.C. (NC State)

Punter

37 - Peter Mortell 6-2 195 R-So. Green Bay, Wis. (Notre Dame Academy)

Holder

37 - Peter Mortell 6-2 195 R-So. Green Bay, Wis. (Notre Dame Academy)

Long Snapper

48 - Jake Filkins 6-2 240 Sr. Prescott, Wis. (Prescott)

Kick Return

15 - Marcus Jones 5-8 166 Jr. Wake Forest, N.C. (Wake Forest-Rolesville)

11 - Antonio Johnson 6-0 207 So. Cleveland, Ohio (Shaker Heights, Ohio)

Punt Return

15 - Marcus Jones 5-8 166 Jr. Wake Forest, N.C. (Wake Forest-Rolesville)

1 - KJ Maye 5-10 197 So. Mobile, Ala. (Murphy)

INJURY REPORT

5- Chris Streveler, Out

47 - Alex Bisch, Out

29 - Briean Boddy, Calhoun Out for the season

CHANGES FROM LAST WEEK

The head coach is not expected to be in Evanston for this game, making it the second week in a row the staff will call a game without Jerry Kill. Let's hope it goes a little better than last week. And by a little, I mean a lot. Otherwise, after back-to-back subpar performances (and that's putting it mildy- especially against Iowa), the coaching staff has changed virtually nothing. Mitch Leidner is slated to start, but we all know how that goes, as the listed backup has actually started the past two tames. We're expected to see both quarterbacks, which makes absolutely no sense considering their skill sets are so similar, and that neither guy has been great.

Minnesota's opponent runs a very successful two QB system (something that is not easy to do, by the way) because Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian have very different styles, and the NU coaches have tailored the offense brilliantly to suit their strengths. For the Gophers, Leidner's been the better runner though Nelson ran well earlier in the season, while neither has passed well at all. We don't need to give two guys who aren't throwing well reps, we need to give one guy the job and let him figure it out. For me, that guy right now is Leidner. While he missed some throws against Michigan (Donovahn Jones is STILL open), he's just looked more confident than PN9, and the offense was better against Michigan than what they did against Iowa (I know, I know, the game plan was different against Iowa because they didn't have Mike Henry so they didn't/couldn't run their power run game).

Of course, the quarterback has been far from the only problem. The offensive line has not been good, and I'm surprised that after two weeks of practice we're not seeing some changes. Oh fine, Ed Olson is now the backup at LT, but we're not going to make any changes at C or RG, perhaps? No Isaac Hayes or Tommy the Tank Olson? I'm far from an o-line expert, but I have not been impressed with them in the two games against real defenses.

There's also been the issue of such a limited passing game. They tried throwing against Iowa and it was pretty much a disaster, and it was only marginally better against Michigan. When they throw this week, they need to get the ball to their playmakers. KJ Maye has pretty much vanished from the gameplan, which makes total sense considering he's one of the few guys who can make people miss in space. Oh wait. Jamel Harbison has received next to zero attention, which is interesting considering he was supposed to be the team's best receiver as little as a year ago. It's one thing to find out he's not as good as you thought because he's running poor routes or dropping passes, it's another when you're not playing him or even trying to get him the ball.

Which brings us to Donovahn Jones, the team's one true deep threat and an S-E-C-level athlete. They attempted one downfield throw to him against Michigan where he was WIDE OPEN. Yes, it was badly underthrown, and yes, he could have made a better play to come back on that ball, but that was it for efforts to get him the ball. And that's essentially been it all season. With a guy like that, shouldn't they be taking a shot down the field to him at least once a quarter? That needs to change to keep defenses honest and, I don't know, maybe even complete a pass more than 10 yards downfield once in awhile. The only real bright spot has been the emergence of redshirt frosh Maxx Williams, and that Derek Engel has made some good plays- at least on the few occassions when the ball is thrown anywhere near him.

Perhaps an even bigger disappointment has been the defense, a group that was much improved a year ago, and looked to be making strides again this season before the wheels came off the past two games. Iowa pushed them around in embarrassing fashion, then Michigan and Devin Gardner marched up and down the field all afternoon. Our less than stellar linebacking corps from a year ago has been replaced by...younger, less than stellar linebackers. De'Vondre Campbell has been replaced again by James Manuel in the starting lineup, which doesn't bode well because Manuel hasn't been great himself in his Gopher career. All-world-everything Ra'Shede Hageman has been the most invisible midseason Phil Steele 1st-team All-B1G selection I've ever seen, though I know he's double-and-triple teamed on a lot of plays. Which makes it even more frustrating that there's been few other guys stepping up around him to help out. We knew we'd probably miss departed corners Michael Carter and Troy Stoudermire, but WOW have we missed both of those guys. Injuries have hit this group, which has shown they don't have as much depth as we had hoped, and arguably their best guy, Derrick Wells, has been fighting a shoulder injury all season.

So as we pass the midway point of the season, I'm not happy. I'm not calling for Jerry Kill's firing like some of you, but it's not like I have a ton of that factual data stuff to throw back at you for reasons why. I don't think canning a coach after just three seasons would be good for the program, yet if we don't start showing some progress the second half of the year, epilepsy or not, and fairly or unfairly, the calls for Kill's job will get louder and louder. Most of us though this was a six or seven win team this season, and while it seems pretty implausible right now with the way they've played, that kind of finish is still in sight. I'm not predicting an upset over Northwestern, but considering the letdown the Cats are facing, plus star tailback Venric Mark being questionable, PLUS the idea that physical running games can pick up yards on NU, there is at least a chance. Of course that would mean the defense stepping up and stopping somebody, and the passing game clicking more than 50% of the time.

It's hard to find two or three more wins on the schedule, but if they can start playing up to potential, go back to looking more like the team we saw in the bowl game last year or against SJSU this year (or Vegas! UNLV is winning actual football games against actual D1 opponents!), then there's a chance they beat Indiana and can steal one or two more like Saturday. If Kill misses extended time, and we don't see better adjustments, less conservative play-calling and better overall play from the players, then this season will end at 4-8 and be a definite step in the wrong direction.

This has been a tough few weeks for Gopher fans, but I'm hoping we'll see some reasons for hope in the second half, and that it starts this Saturday down in Evanston against Northwestern.

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