Here's a quick reminder on how this whole mailbag thing works before we get started:
There are three ways to contact the The Daily Gopher staff with your questions. You can post them in the comments of the "Calling All Questions" post on Monday, you can tweet them at us on Twitter using the hashtag #AskTDG (please use it because then we can search on it and everything becomes easier) or you can email them to DailyGopher (at) gmail.com. If you email it to us we'll use your first name unless you request otherwise, for Twitter/comments we'll use your respective handle or moniker.
Time for MOAR ANSWERS!
"Drew Wolitarsky. Can this guy, (cue Gruden's THIS GUY), become a meaningful contributor in his first year? From everything I heard, the football IQ is off the charts and he is a very good route runner. I think he provides an element on the outside as a guy who can get open in a slot role and exploiting the middle of the field. I may be too high on Wolitarsky, but I believe we've got a potential Wes Welker/Troy Brown on our hands. Personally I think I reliable possession receiver will be huge, especially if Engle/McDonald can emerge as deep threats."
Jeffrick: He'll have every opportunity, that's for certain, especially with DCT walking away. This is the one area of real concern for this team, as entering camp, Derek Engel is one of only two legit B1G starting wide receivers of the whole group- the other, Jamel Harbison, is recovering from major knee surgery. Read that sentence again. Certainly guys like Andre McDonald, and Isaac Fruechte have size and athletic ability, but they're yet to do much of anything at this level. McDonald is the best chance for a real breakout candidate, while Fruechte likely is what he is as an adequate player. Engel's nothing special, but a model of what Wolitarsky could be, especially early in his career as a precise route-runner with good hands who understands gaining separation from a defensive back and getting open is about much more than having blazing speed. I'd expect an adjustment period to dealing with much, much faster and stronger DB's than he saw in his Cal high school league (remember he didn't play in Southern Cali by any means), but he showed the traits that should make him a solid B1G receiver. It's a really, really difficult transition for a true freshman to make an impact at this level, but if Wolitarksy's ready, he'll have a chance.
JDMill: This coaching staff has shown an absolute willingness to put the most productive guys on the field early and often and the fact that there are a lot of question marks surrounding the WR position could certainly put Wolitarsky in the mix.
Who is the last true frosh to make a real difference at WR for a non-top tier Big Ten squad? I'm wondering what the ceiling is with Wolitarsky this year. I can't
remember a Big Ten WR making a big splash as a true frosh in recent history? So, if we take out Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State, who is the last true frosh to really shine for a Big Ten team?
Elliot: I'd be surprised if Wolitarsky made a huge impact in his true freshman year. Harbison, McDonald, Fruechte and Engel are all ahead of him on the depth chart, among others very possibly.
GopherNation: I don't know. I'm not expecting any of the freshmen receivers, including Wolitarsky to make a big impact. If he doesn't redshirt, he'll play some and end up with about 20 receptions. That's my guess.
GoAUpher: I was going to say Ted Ginn Jr. but then I double checked and realized all of his freshman props were as a return man not a WR. The fact that none of us can think of another frosh to earn huge props at WR should probably serve as a good reminder for all of us not to expect too much from Drew this season.
I was thinking after E!SPN ranked the SJS game as the no. 22 game in in the B1G non-conference slate, that this will be a no-win game for MN being as SJS is NOT a bad football team but the casual fan will think they are a creampuff and will expect us to blow them out. Brian from E!SPN made reference to the fact that the Gophers should be looking out for a possible upset, and changed his mind in stating that it's possible that it wouldn't be an upset if the Gophs lose. After being called out by JD on twitter, Brian responded with the fact that SJS finished at #21 in the polls last season.
Being as this game closes out our non-conference slate, is this the biggest game of the year for Jerry Kill and the Gophers? Win and casual fan & media will talk about how soft our non-conference schedule was and bring back talk of Mason, but lose this game and casual fan & media will talk about how embarrassing it is to lose to a school from the MW and say we are back to Brewster levels. In my mind it's a no-win type of game for MN, but could really set things back in media's eyes if we lose it. Thoughts?
Jeffrick: The San Jose St game is simply a no-win for the Gophers. No matter how good the Spartans are- and it looks like they could be pretty good- nobody in the local #TAKES media has heard of them, and therefore the Gophers should be beat them. You listen to the Reusse's and Barreiro's and the rest of the local media who only talk about the team to slam them, they never take a 4-0 record seriously thanks to Glen Mason. So if The U handles SJSU, they won't get much respect. But if they can go 4-0 and then take Floyd back? That's when the bandwagon could start filling up. IMO, the Iowa game is the most pivotal this season.
Elliot: It won't be an easy game for the Gophers, but really, this program doesn't come across many easy games that often.
As far as the criticism from those trolling, if the Gophers win, "they didn't play anyone." If they lose, "they lost to a horrible team." /kanyeshrug
There are certain types who are going to blast the Gophers for everything and anything until they win the Rose Bowl. (Even then, they will say, well, it's NOT the National Championship, after all.) You can't worry about those types. They aren't bringing anything to the table other than telling us that the crowd is sparse at kickoff/tip-off.
JDMill: I think by definition the biggest non-conference game is always the game that promises to be the most competitive and SJSU is definitely that game in 2013. My issue with BB wasn't that he said the Gohehrs could lose the game, it was the typical snarky way in which he did it.
The fact of the matter is that this is the kind of game that Gopher teams of the last 5 years have struggled with and/or lost. However, if we (and when I say we, I'm definitely not talking about anyone outside of Minnesota because nobody outside of the state believes that Gophers can win more than 6 games this year) truly believe that the Gophers have turned/are turning a corner, then we have to believe that this is the kind of game the Gophers can/should handle, especially at home.
GopherNation: I would agree with you that this may be a no-win game for the Gophers. But really that isn't what is important at this point. We are playing a very soft schedule and SJSU should never be your most challenging opponent. But Kill has made the decision that wins trump public perception for now. A loss is tragic because it will be viewed as the equivalent to losing to North Dakota State. And a win will be largely ignored. But get the win and move on to what will actually be the biggest game of the year for Kill. The Iowa game is easily the biggest game of the year. Get that first Big Ten win early and develop some confidence and momentum.
GoAUpher: The Iowa game is still the biggest game for the Gophers in my mind. Assuming we go 4-0 in the non-con, the Iowa game is key to making a bowl. Add in the rivalry/Floyd element and you've got the big game for the year. For me, the losing to an SJSU thing is a "meh" thing. It would totally suck, but if we're losing that game then we're likely not going bowling which to me would be the bigger issue. The talk radio and local clickhunting columnists will find something to ding the Gophers on regardless.
Could some give me in depth analysis of the Cam Barker-Kim Johnsson trade of 2010?
Jeffrick: The only rational explanation is Chuck Fletcher lost a bet to Risebrough on his way out and ol' Doug got to make one last terrible, terrible move.
JDMill: I think you're looking for http://www.hockeywilderness.com/
GopherNation: Who is she?
Is Pirsig doomed to be just injury prone like Gjere (a concussion isn't a leg injury) or Olsen or Bobek? I fear he will never see the field after some break downs so early in his career.
Jeffrick: The coaches continue to say they're not going to rush Pirsig back, which is good. Nate Sandell had a story in the past few days that said it's a possibility that Bobek misses the season because of a viral infection that could affect his heart. It's not definite he misses time, but it's certainly worrisome. They're deeper and more experienced on the line this year to be able to handle if Bobek can't play this year or if Pirsig isn't ready. But those are definitely two guys I'd love to see healthy and playing this year, and hopefully we'll see it.
JDMill: I've always sort of considered Pirsig to be the heir-apparent to the left tackle spot after Eddie Olson graduates. EdOl is a guy that's been plagued by injuries himself, but he was expected to be an every down player from the moment he came to Dinkytown and his body has taken a beating.
If Pirsig is the guy expected to take "the blind side" from Eddie, then that means he has an entire year to heal and learn. Hopefully the fact that there is expected to be depth and interchangability (a word I might have just made up) on the O-Line means that Jonah doesn't have to be rushed back and can really let that knee heel up.
GopherNation: Maybe, predicting he'll be injury prone has about the same probability as predicting someone will not be injury prone.
GoAUpher: This is not a #TeamSunshineRainbowsAndLollipops approved question. Please return to your home or place of business, make sure your glass is half full or better, and resubmit to us with more smiley faces.
On a more serious note, what everyone else said that was more of an answer to the question.
Question: Will the team release an updated roster at the beginning of Fall Camp? It might be a sign of severely lacking something better to do, but I'm curious to see if any of the O-Linemen hovering around 290 lbs. made it over 300 through summer conditioning and if the D-Ends made it above OLB type weights.
Drew from Beijing
JDMill: The roster on GopherSports.com is constantly being updated as far as the players and their numbers listed there. I'm not sure how often things like height & weight are updated, and I'm not sure that's something the coaching staff would really want. Players are notoriously listed below their actual playing weight because strategery.
GoAUpher: We have readers in China? Either you're hacking the government imposed firewalls with some sort of VPN workaround or we are WAY more authoritarian and anti-American than I thought. I'm going to assume it's the latter and note that as your overlord I demand you pay me tribute in bourbon. All those who do not comply will be sentenced to 1 week of watching the 2008 Iowa game on a never-ending loop Clockwork Orange style.
Also, are you able to watch the games over there and if yes, what time is it when you do so?
What beer will be available in the end zone beer tents?
GopherNation: It doesn't really matter. Beer > no beer.
GoAUpher: Well, you can be pretty confident it won't be Surly since the U hasn't changed vendors and the vendor they use doesn't distribute Surly. /sobs softly