The Minnesota Golden Gophers struggled quite a bit in 2012, losing seven of their final nine games of the season and finishing at the bottom of the Legends Division in the Big Ten. One of the few bright spots of a pretty underwhelming Gopher offense was the play of running back Donnell Kirkwood, who finished as one of the Big Ten’s top rushers in 2012. With another year of experience under his belt and claim to the Minnesota running game, Kirkwood is ready to take it to the next level in 2013.
Last year, Kirkwood nearly made it to the 1,000-yard mark, finishing the year with 218 carries for 926 yards with six touchdowns. He seized control of the starting job in Minnesota’s power running game and never relinquished it, finishing the year as the only Minnesota rusher to have more than 75 carries. With head coach Jerry Kill still hopelessly devoted to the running game as the focal point of his offense, Kirkwood should get plenty of carries again in 2013 and will be ready to do even more with them.
He’ll be helped out by a tough and experienced offensive line ahead of him that should move defenses next fall. Their ability to stay together another year and build on the momentum they had from 2012 will be a major boost as the Gophers continue to try and figure out what they will do about their lackluster passing attack. While they try and find someone to throw to, they can be assured they’ll have Kirkwood to hand off to.
With an extra year of progression in the Minnesota offense and an experienced offensive line ahead of him, Kirkwood should blow past the 1,000-yard mark in 2013. Will it be enough to bring some success Minnesota’s way next season?