Tom got us off to a roaring start with some mostly homerific season record predictions from your favorite writing staff. I'll keep the party going with predictions based off questions that I asked the guys. Note, these were sent out before Norsk joined the crew and I (being a noted forgetful jerk) forgot to forward them to him for his opinion. In any case, 8 guys (me, GN, GG05, DK5, Jeff, Hipster, UStreet, and Puckett) responded so unless I suck at math worse than usual the total votes on any given question should be 8.
Who will be Minnesota's leading rusher this season?
David Cobb: 7 votes
Berkley Edwards: 1 vote
The lone Edwards voter? PuckettWept. Here are his thoughts:
For the last two seasons, the starting running back at the end of the season has differed from the one at the beginning. I'm betting on the idea that Edwards provides the offense with speed that they previously haven't had, and that he also stays on the field in passing situations.
As for Cobb, here some of the opposing thoughts:
I wondered before summer practice if Nugget or Berkley would take carries from him, but after reading practice reports, Cobb is sounding every bit the elite back he was last year.
I believe that David Cobb will be the Gophers' leading rusher again this season, and I don't expect it to be close. Cobb will get the lion's share of the carries, with Berkley Edwards and Donnell Kirkwood splitting the rest. Cobb will surpass his 1,200 yard season, but only by 200 yards or so. The other running backs will see enough carries, preventing him from pushing his yardage total too high.
Will Minnesota's passing offense rank in the top 10 Big Ten programs this year?
Yes: 6 votes
No: 4 votes
Much closer split here. Some thoughts?
Maryland, Rutgers, Illinois, and Purdue: these are the four passing offenses ahead of which Minnesota will finish. While that's not a spectacular list, it puts the Gophers in the top 10 teams of the conference, and out of dead last, so I think we'll take it, right?
I think you're confusing Maryland with a different team DK but I love the optimism.
No. If it does, I think it will rank 10th.
No, certainly not when it comes to yards. Teams 9-11 last year were all around 197 yards per game, an average of a full 49 yards per game better than Minnesota was a year ago. While I hope Minnesota improves in this area (they can’t be much worse), I’m still not confident a young QB and receiving corps will be throwing for an average of 200 per game. Passing Efficiency? Maybe, hopefully, but just about everybody who finished ahead of them last year should be as good or better in 2014, and now you’re also adding Maryland who should be able to throw a little bit.
Passing stats have a noted anti-Minnesota bias Jeffrick, you shouldn't trust them.
Who will be Minnesota's leading receiver in terms of yards? In terms of touchdowns?
Maxx Williams: 5 votes
Drew Wolitarsky: 2 votes
Donovahn Jones: 1 vote
A little division here, but mostly a Maxx corination.
Maxx: 7 votes
Nate Wozniak: 1 vote***
I dare you to figure out who picked Woz.
***In other news, I'm actually just kidding. It will be Maxx.
In how many games will we hear the announcers use the term "Golden-I"?
Only the games where Beth Mowins is calling the game/the game is on ESPN2: 3 votes
Two: 2 votes
All of them: 2 votes
Zero: 1 vote
Hipster, your zero vote was in bad taste.
As for all of them, UStreet thinks that means all games ever including those the Gophers aren't playing in and Puckett is unsure but hopeful about that prediction.
Who will lead the Gopher defense in tackles?
Damien Wilson: 7 votes
De'Vondre Campbell: 1 vote
DK5 was the lone dissenter, but he noted that he had no idea who to pick. GN thinks Wilson is primed for a monster year with potential to finish high on the All-B1G list.
Which Gopher freshman (including RS frosh) will make the biggest impact this season?
Berkley Edwards: 4 votes
Steven Richardson: 2 votes
Melvin Holland Jr: 1 vote
Ryan Santoso: 1 vote
Jeffrick had the most to say:
If we’re including redshirt freshmen the easy answer is Berkley. But since that’s obvious and boring, let’s talk true freshmen- and specifically defensive true freshmen, because I’m not sure any of the offensive kids will be able to get enough playing time. The two most likely names are where Minnesota’s D needs the most help- the D line. Stephen Richardson might be short by D1 standards (only 6’0) for a DT, but he should be able to everything the coaches want at that position. He’ll likely be in the rotation from day 1, and at worst be there all season long. The other guy is converted TE Gaelin Elmore, who shifts to DE where he can wreak havoc on opposing offenses. Heavily recruited by the "big boys" to play DE, Minnesota let him try TE before showing him both the depth chart and (likely) the play book, and Gaelin decided he’d play quicker and have more fun on D. At 6’6 and already 258 this is the kind of athlete Minnesota just doesn’t usually get- well at least since Ra’Shede Hageman, whose career had a very similar start. Hmmmm…
DK5 on Holland Jr:
I see him as a red zone threat specializing in the Randy Moss jump ball TD.
What under the radar Gopher player will take on the role of fan favorite for unexpected production?
Nate Wozniak: 4 votes
De'Vondre Campbell: 1 vote***
Drew Goodger: 1 vote
Jalen Myrick: 1 vote
Damaris Travis: 1 vote
These are the actual votes. I didn't manipulate them or anything.
***Puckett was quick to note that De'Vondre isn't really under the radar, he just thinks fans are really going to love the guy.
How many Gophers will make All-B1G first team?
One: 5 votes
Three: 2 votes
Two: 1 vote***
Maxx, Wilson, and Murray were the two most frequently mentioned. I'll turn to Jeffrick for some longer thoughts:
I’ll say one, since even that would be a major accomplishment for this program, at least compared to recent history. Cobb might put up the best numbers but there’s too many good backs in the B1G this year with far starry names (at least according to the media), Epping or Tommy O have good opportunities as seniors on what should be a great line, yet still I think the line at Minnesota gets overlooked by B1G media. Maxx Williams may have the best chance of any offensive player if he lives up to my prediction of being the team’s leading receiver and puts up good numbers. On D, Eric Murray is probably their best player but won’t put up enough "counting" stats like picks and PB to get recognized, Wilson should be a tackling machine but the B1G is always deep at LB, and Cedric Thompson piled up a lot of tackles last year (believe it or not it was he, not Wilson, who led the Gophs in tackles last year) but doesn’t strike me as enough of a ball hawk to get all-conference. Derrick Wells is a dark horse since it looks like he’ll start and if he’s as close as people say to how he was looking two years ago before he got hurt, he absolutely has the ability. Still, my choice here is DE Theiren Cockran. Already one of the tops in the B1G in sacks from a year ago, if he can be take the next step and up his TFL’s (only 10 in 2013), I think he has the best chance.
***I'll let DK5 explain:
Maxx Williams will make it, along with Antonio Thompson on the defensive side. He has the skill set and work ethic to force other teams to have to change their game plan.
What game are you most confident in the Gophers winning?
Middle Tennessee: 4 votes
Eastern Illinois: 2 votes
Illinois: 1 vote
Wisconsin: 1 vote
If this were limited to Big Ten games only, the staff consensus would seem to be Purdue.
DK5 sums it up:
Middle Tennessee State is the biggest patsy on the schedule, even more than the Gophers single FCS opponent on the schedule.
What game worries you the most?
Iowa: 3 votes
Michigan: 2 votes
Eastern Illinois: 1 vote
Ohio State: 1 vote
TCU: 1 vote
Puckett shares why he picked Michigan:
Worried might not be the word, but maybe anxious. The Gophers need to beat Michigan, especially when they are seen as being not at their peak and the Gophers have played Michigan horribly during Kill's three years.
GN explains his thoughts on Iowa:
Not because it is the most difficult game on the schedule but it might be the most important. It is winable, it is at home and it is going to be huge for Big Ten standings and bowl position.
Iowa. Always f***ing Iowa. Each of the past two seasons the Gophs have been even- at least on paper and perception- to the Hawkeyes the week of the game, only to see Minnesota get absolutely manhandled. Both down in the horrible state of Iowa in 2012 (unfortunately in attendance for that one), as well as at TCF Bank last season (ditto), the Gophers came out and got their bells rung. This season Iowa’s a not-so-darkhorse pick to win the West because of that ridiculous excuse for a schedule, yet Minnesota gets them at home and should be underdogs in the matchup. The last two times they were underdogs to Iowa at TCF Bank Stadium Minnesota won them both. I also wasn’t there for either game. Wait a minute…
DK5 is not excited about tomorrow night:
The game that worries me the most is Eastern Illinois due to a totally irrational fear of decent FCS opponents. Dammit anyway.
Axe, Pig, Jug. Which of these trophies are back in the case at the end of the year?
Pig and Axe: 3 votes
Pig only: 3 votes
Axe only: 1 vote
All three: 1 vote
To summarize? Iowa, we hate you and think you suck. No one really sees a Michigan win which is why it will happen and make us all die of happiness. GN thinks all 3 will be competitive but doesn't see us stealing the Jug or Axe on the road.
Hipster was the optimist:
All. Damn. 3. ROLL GOPHER!
I'll stick with this last one for the poll...