So far, it has been made abundantly clear to anyone paying attention that Minnesota is strapped with one of the most dynamic offenses in the Big Ten. From an experienced quarterback to multiple speedy receivers and a trusty running back, the Golden Gophers are more prepared to go score-for-score than most teams in the conference.
Michigan's ability to crack that puzzle will only bring the Wolverines one step closer to a victory, though, since U-M's offense still needs to put up the requisite points to secure possession of the Little Brown Jug for the time being.
Q: Is there an obvious weakness on this year's Minnesota team, whether that be on offense or defense? What about special teams?
A: Inexperience at linebacker could be a problem on defense, especially early on in the schedule. Mariano Sori-Marin took his lumps last season and is primed for a breakout year, but the rest of that position group is defined by youth and inexperience, especially with the aforementioned injury to Braelen Oliver. With the graduation of the entire starting LB class from a year ago, Minnesota will need to see some unheralded players step up immediately.
Q: Michigan will trot out a young quarterback and a relatively inexperienced offensive line and crop of wide receivers. What position groups are strengths for Minnesota on defense?
A: The secondary, despite losing Antoine Winfield Jr., should be very good. Coney Durr and former Wolverine Benjamin St.-Juste are one of the best cornerback tandems in the Big Ten, and Jordan Howden has matured into a difference maker at safety after a rough freshman season in 2018. Minnesota will need to find a replacement for Chris Williamson at the nickel position, though, and no one seems to have seized control of that competition. Talented sophomore Tyler Nubin, on the other hand, is the odds-on favorite to take over for Winfield.
Q: Is the Minnesota pass rush expected to create a lot of pressure this season or are there some unknown commodities among that group?
A: The Gophers lose two multi-year starters at defensive end, but it is entirely possible their replacements could have higher ceilings than their predecessors. Rush end Boye Mafe is an athletic freak who was frequently utilized in third down packages last season, and defensive end Esezi Otomewo has been a regular contributor for two seasons now. Behind them are unknown commodities, but defensive line has been a point of emphasis for Fleck and co. on the recruiting trail and fans are excited to see what that young talent can do with more snaps. Once again Minnesota will need some youth to step in and make a difference right away.
How well do you think Michigan's offense will be able to move the football against the Gophers on Saturday? Will the Wolverines stick to a more run-based attack or will the team decide to air it out on certain occasions? Let us know!