The Minnesota Golden Gophers had a surprisingly good season in 2013. This season, they are expected to improve. However, experts believe that may not be reflected in their record.
Here are five predictions for the Gophers this season.
Prediction No. 1 - The Gophers will win at least nine games, including at least two of the three trophy games.
The Gophers do not have an easy schedule, but they should beat TCU, Michigan and Illinois on the road and have no problem in their first five home games. The final four games will be interesting. Iowa and Ohio State at home before finishing with Nebraska and Wisconsin on the road. The Gophers will beat either Iowa, Wisconsin or both. The Hawkeyes will be okay, but not as good as everyone thinks they will be and the Badgers are no better than average at quarterback and inexperienced on defense with nine new starters.
The Gophers need another “big boy” win to go along with last season’s win over the Cornhuskers. Beating the Hawkeyes, Buckeyes, Cornhuskers or Badgers will be part of the next step for the Golden Gophers.
Prediction No. 2 - David Cobb will have more rushing yards by himself than at least four teams in the Big Ten.
The senior is fourth among returning Big Ten Conference running backs from last season. He wasn’t the lead back the first few games. He is not a flashy nor a big power back, but he has a good combination of speed and power. Cobb had 101 yards against the nation’s best run defense in the regular season finale. With an offseason of confidence and knowing he is the feature back, the senior will be better this season.
Combine the senior’s new found confidence and success with a few teams that either won’t be able to run the ball well or often and you have the recipe for Cobb to top those teams by himself in rushing yards.
Prediction No. 3 - The Gophers will not have the worst passing offense in the conference.
The Gophers had one of he worst passing offenses in the country and the worst in the Big Ten. That will change this season. Top receivers Maxx Williams, Donovahn Jones and Drew Wolitarsky will be better. K.J. Maye is healthy and Eric Carter will get into the mix. The running backs should be more involved, including Berkley Edwards and David Cobb.
The Gophers have more weapons in the passing game and several teams in the Big Ten will not be as good as they were in passing game.
Prediction No. 4 - Maxx Williams will be the best tight end in the Big Ten.
Williams already has the best combination of size and athleticism of any tight end in the conference. Jeff Heuerman of Ohio State and Tyler Kroft of Rutgers are getting more recognition, but by the end of the season Williams should have better numbers. Williams will be a big part of the Gophers improved passing offense by stretching the middle of the field. He also will be a big part of their red zone offense.
Prediction No. 5 - Eric Murray will not allow a passing touchdown this season.
Murray already is one of the most underrated players in the country. He is a shutdown corner entering his second season as a starter. Last season, he limited a few of the conference’s best receivers to very little, including NFL wide receiver Allen Robinson from Penn State and Nebraska wide receiver Kenny Bell. Murray is not the biggest corner, but can shut down half the field. Teams threw very little in his direction and that will continue in 2014.