2008 Minnesota Golden Gophers Football Preview
2008 Minnesota football preview
2007 Record: 1-11, 0-8
The Golden Gophers defense ranked last in the Big Ten defending the run and pass last season. Improvements will need to come at every position, but there are some playmakers on the defensive line. Senior DE Willie VanDesteeg appears to be recovered from a broken wrist he suffered in 2007, and he will look to return to the level he brought to the defense in 2006 when he recorded ten sacks. Junior Lee Campbell returns as a starter at DE. Juniors Eric Small, Tim McGee, and Garrett Brown will rotate on the inside.
Senior LB Deon Hightower ranked second on the team with 70 tackles last season, but has had issues with a bad shoulder. His shoulder has recovered from surgery and Hightower is primed for a big season. Senior OLB Steve Davis should be better this season after making the transition from DE last year. Junior Rex Sharpe is expected to land the final starting position at OLB, and freshman Sam Maresh is a highly touted recruit who could earn immediate playing time.
The defensive backfield will undergo a facelift after the 2007 version allowed an average of nearly 290 yards through the air per game last season. Junior college transfer Traye Simmons provides immediate help and should step in as the number one cover corner. The rest of the secondary is still in competition and will stay this way into the season. Sophomores Ryan Collado and Kyle Theret started as freshman last year, but showed they needed time to develop. Juniors Marcus Sherels and Tremaine Brock have emerged during practices and haven starting potential. True freshmen, such as Keanon Cooper, are also being considered as possible pieces of the puzzle in the secondary.
Senior Joel Monroe only had nine field goal attempts last season, but he hit on seven of those kicks including one from 54 yards. Justin Kucek, another senior, returns as one of the top punters in the Big Ten giving Minnesota stability in the kicking game.
Sophomore Harold Howell averaged 23.1 yards per return as the primary kickoff return specialist in 2007. Junior David Pittman will contend with Howell to return punts.
Tim Brewster will need to get the Golden Gophers ready to fly out of the gate and win games early in the season because their schedule get considerably tougher as the season progresses. Their first four games are winnable, but they open Big Ten play at Ohio State and go to Wisconsin late in the season. The Golden Gophers do not play Michigan State and Penn State this year.
The offense has the ability to put up points, but the defense will need to play much better than last season to give Minnesota any chance of reaching a Bowl game in 2008.
If they do not win their first four games, they will not be Bowl eligible. Brewster will not hesitate this year to play true freshman to build for next season.
Minnesota Golden Gophers 2008 Football Schedule
August 30 - Northern Illinois
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