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Golden Gophers Host New Mexico State - OPEN THREAD

TV: Big Ten Network - alternative
Game Time: 2:30 PM
Radio: 100.3 FM (KFAN) and the Gopher Radio Network

We go from being 23 point underdogs to 20 point favorites in a week. The Aggies of New Mexico State are expected to be one of the worst teams, not in the WAC but in all of FBS football. After an inspired effort that came up short in L.A. the Gophers get a chance to work out some kinks at home.

New Mexico State opened their season hosting the Ohio Bobcats. After the first quarter the game was a tight 7-7 but then Ohio went on to dominate the rest of the game and won 44-22. NMSU managed a total of 6 yards rushing but their sophomore QB, Andrew Manley had a solid day throwing the ball for 362 yards and two touchdowns. Defensively the Aggies were led by Donyae Coleman who led the team with 14 tackles and then contributed a pick and a fumble recovery.

The Stats

Minnesota Golden Gophers New Mexico State Aggies
Points / Game 17.0
Pass Yards 192
Rush Yards 110 6
3rd Down % 42.9% 31.3%
Key Offensive Player to Watch RB - Duane Bennett
QB - Andrew Manley
Points Allowed/Game 19.0
Pass Yards 304 211
Rush Yards 67 241
3rd Down % 50.0% 57.1%
Key Defensive Player to Watch CB/KR - Troy Stoudermire SS - Donyae Coleman

Three Questions

  1. Can the Gophers establish a dominant rushing attack? - The Bobcats racked up 241 yards rushing, this appears to be a real opportunity for the Kill offense to establish a ground game. I fully expect that NMSU has spent the week doing their best to shore up the rush defense and will be prepared for the Gophers to rush, rush and then rush again. But this is the when we need to really be bullies and push them around a little. We were not capable of it at Middle Tennessee State last year, we need to do it now.
  2. Can the Gopher defensive line rack up some sacks? - Ohio recorded 2 sacks and 10 TFLs last weekend and this is a severe weakness of our defense. Can our defensive line, without the help of blitzes, get to Manley and bring him down? Racking up five or six sacks would be nice to seek.
  3. Troy Stoudermire - Hopefully Troy Stoudermire will only get one opportunity to set a new Big Ten record for kickoff return yards. He needs just 24 to tie former Badger, David Gilreath and is only 416 off the NCAA record (he won't break that one in this game). He has played on some teams with bad defenses so he's had plenty of opportunities to rack up yards and he has yet to house one, but he is a good return man and the record will be a nice accomplishment. I'm going to pull a Blyleven here and make a call. Stoudermire will house a kickoff for six on Saturday (why not?).

The Answers

I am really looking forward to seeing our running backs get a lot of carries and rack up a lot of yards. For that to happen I'm counting on our offensive line to make the push downfield. The Aggie defensive line isn't very big (247,280,270,240) but all four starters are seniors. So I'll be most interested to watch our line deal with their experienced, though smallish, counterparts all day. Watch NMSU stack the box early but then I don't want to see us get cute, I want to run the ball for 4+ yards per carry against a nine-man front. Timmy always talked about pounding the rock, I want to see Coach Kill actually do it. I'm looking forward to Bennett and LaMonte Edwards combining for 200+ yards. And I am also looking forward to a lot of carries for the younger backs. Gray doesn't need to throw much and he shouldn't need to run much, get him some confidence and keep him healthy.

Defensively this is an opportunity for our unit to clean up some thing against the pass. The Aggies will be throwing a lot and last week we failed to get to the QB and we gave up a lot of passing yards. The best news is that we won't be facing Matt Barkley and Robert Woods so the secondary can build some confidence and clean up technique. The one thing I really want to see is pressure on the quarterback. As mentioned Ohio sacked NMSU 2 times last week! I want several sacks and a lot of pressure.

This could be the easiest game on the schedule. I desperately want to take an early lead and win our first game since 2008 where we didn't trail and have to come back to win. And I want to win big, I want the fourth quarter to be boring.