Minnesota Golden Gophers Spring Practice Preview: Offense

By Scott Peceny
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Golden Gophers may not be the most prestigious football school in the Big 10, but with the help of head coach Jerry Kill, the Gophers are beginning to rebuild their program.

In 2012, Minnesota finished at 6-7.  Their record was subpar, yes, but the Gophers went to a bowl game for the first time since 2009.

Looking ahead to 2013, the Gophers have obvious holes that need to be patched.  Their main weakness a year ago was scoring points.  Minnesota averaged only 22.1 points per game, which ranked 96th in the FBS.  Even worse was their passing attack: at 169 yards per game, the Gophers finished with the 109th best passing offense in the country.

The task of improving their offense is a tall one, made even taller by the departure of playmaker MarQueis Gray.  The dual-threat quarterback was second on the team in rushing and accounted for 10 touchdowns last year for the Gophers.

Kill and the Gophers must focus on finding their quarterback this spring.  Minnesota played three quarterbacks last year, but with Gray gone it’s a two-man race.

The quarterback job is between sophomore Philip Nelson and Junior Max Shortell.  Neither one was terribly impressive last year as Nelson completed 49% of his passes for 873 yards, eight touchdowns and eight interceptions while Shortell completed 56% of his passes for 853 yards, six touchdowns and five interceptions.

The way I see it, this is an open competition at quarterback this spring, the Gophers need to commit to whoever they go with.

The Gophers also get their leading rusher back for 2013.  Donnell Kirkwood ran for 958 yards and six scores last season and will be integral to the Gophers’ success this year.

The Gophers must figure out their quarterback situation this spring, that is priority number one.  When they do, there is no reason this team can’t continue to improve.

Follow me on twitter @ScottPeceny


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