Minnesota Preview 2011

Michigan will host Minnesota for the Big Ten Opener on October 1, and the rivalry for the Little Brown Jug renews for the first time since 2008 when Michigan upset a favored Gopher team in Minneapolis, 29-6. Michigan leads the series with 70 wins, 24 defeats and 3 ties. Michigan is a 20 point favorite. It is unfortunate that their head coach, Jerry Kill, may not be able to make the trip to Ann Arbor due to treatment for his ongoing seizure issues.

The Gopher offense is led by Junior Quarterback MarQueis Gray; he has gained 351 yards which gives him an average of 88 yards per game on the ground and has completed 39 of 77 passes for 3 TDs and 3 interceptions. Gray is a load; he is 6'4" 240 lbs. and fast. Freshman Max Shortell is his backup, and he has completed 13 of 28 for 2 TDs and 2 interceptions. Their offense has converted 26 of 65 (40%) in 3rd and 4th down conversions, and is 88% efficent in red zone opportunities converting 14 of 16 attempts, but only 56% have been TDs with 9. Senior Duane Bennett and Redshirt Freshman Donnell Kirkwood are their running backs, and they have combined for 289 yards and 4 TDs in 4 games. Freshmen David Cobb and Lamonte Edwards will also get some carries. Senior Da'Jon McKnight is their leading receiver with 19 receptions and 1 TD, and Sophomore Malcolm Moulton has 11 catches including a 59 yarder. Senior Collin McGarry is the tight end; Junior John Rabe and Senior Eric Lair are his backups and they do use two tight ends to help block for Gray. Freshman Marcus Jones and Junior Brandon Green will also see action at wide receiver. The Gophers have had difficulty with creating a balanced offensive attack with a meager passing game, and have only averaged 14 catches and 179 yards even though they've been in come from behind situations in three of their four games; they are ranked 97th nationally in pass offense and 93rd in scoring offense. Senior Ryan Wynn anchors the offensive line at Center. He is flanked at Guard by Seniors Chris Bunders and Ryan Orton. Sophomore Ed Olson is the Left Tackle, and Redshirt Freshman Jimmy Gjere is the Right Tackle. This line is good for their rushing attack, but has given up an average of 2.5 sacks per game ranking them 89th in the nation in pass protection.

On defense, Senior Free Safety Kim Royston is their leading tackler with 42 stops. Sophomore Cornerback Brock Vereen has 27 tackles, 3.5 for loss, 5 pass break ups, a forced fumble and an interception. Senior cornerback Troy Stoudamire has 24 tackles, 3 for loss, 5 pass break ups and two interceptions. Senior Christyn Lewis is their strong safety, and has started the last two games; Senior Shady Salaman started the first two. This group has not done well on pass defense, and is ranked 108th nationally and 102nd in pass efficiency defense allowing 279 yards per game. Their rushing defense has been pretty solid allowing only 105 yards per game. Seniors Anthony Jacobs and Brandon Kirksey anchor the defensive line at 3 technique and 1 technique defensive and nose tackle positions. Freshman Michael Amaefula and Redshirt Freshman Ben Perry are the defensive ends, and Junior D.L. Wilhite backs them up. Amaefula is the only Gopher to have registered a sack thus far in 2011. Their linebacking corps are led by Senior MIKE Gary Tinsley; he has 26 tackles, 2 for loss and 2 pass break ups. Junior Mike Rallis is their outside linebacker; he has 25 stops and 2 pass break ups. Their WILL linebacker is Sophomore Aaron Hill, and Junior Keanon Cooper may also see action; Cooper has 23 tackles and a forced fumble

On Special Teams, the Gophers have a great punter in Sophomore Dan Orseske who is averaging 45.9 yards per boot; he has nailed 4 inside the 20, 3 fair catches and has 3 punts over 50 yards in 12 attempts. Jeremy Gallon may have a good chance to break one. The Gopher punting is ranked #8 nationlally in net punting. Their placekicker, Sophomore Chris Hawthorne, is 5 of 8 on field goals, and 11 of 12 on extra points with a long of 36 yards. Hawthorne has averaged 63.7 on 18 kickoffs with 3 touchbacks. Duane Bennett is a dangerous punt returner, he retuned a 4 yard block and has a 30 yarder so far; Troy Stoudamire is their primary kickoff specialist averaging 21.6 yards on 8 returns. Minnesota blocked a punt for a TD against Miami-OH.

Minnesota began the season well by almost upsetting Southern Cal in the Coliseum, losing 17-19, but held the mighty Trojans to only 67 yards on the ground and stopped a red zone. They defeated Miami-OH at home, but lost to a poor New Mexico State at home when they only converted three of five red zone chances. Last week, they took it on the chin from a good North Dakota State team that is ranked #5 in Division IA (just behind #3 Appalachian State) ahead of #20 Massachusetts, our 2012 opponent that we only defeated 42-37 in 2010 and who is joining the Mid-American Conference in 2012. They let Bison cornerback, Marcus Williams, take two interceptions back for TDs, one just before half and the other when it looked like they might tie the game late in the 4th quarter. Minnesota is not a very good football team, but has Big Ten players who are capable of playing their best especially in a rivarlry game like this. The Big Ten season is a new season, and they'll be ready for Michigan. There are 19 seniors on the Gopher roster, and nothing would be better for them than to take back the Brown Jug. Michigan showed in the 3rd quarter against San Diego State that they can be very charitable with turnovers, and turnovers are so critical in rivalry games. I remember the 1977 game that was Michigan's last shutout, 0-16, and the 1986 game that Jim Harbaugh coulnd't overcome at home with the undefeated #2 ranked Wolverines, 17-20. Still, it is hard to doubt Michigan at home with Denard and the defense playing so much better.

Michigan 35 Minnesota 13

Brady Hoke Friday Walk Through

Brady Hoke Press Conference September 28

Al Borges Press Conference September 27

Greg Mattison Press Conference September 27

Brady Hoke Press Conference September 26

Players Press Conference September 26 Denard Robinson Kevin Koger Ryan VanBergen

Games Notes for Minnesota (Depth Chart) (Minnesota Games Notes for Michigan)

Minnesota's Version of the Little Brown Jug Rivalry

When the Little Brown Jug Vanished 1931-1933

1903 Team Manager tells the Tale of the Jug