Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Trouble in the trenches

(My apologies for the cliched title, but I couldn't resist.)

Offensive Line... Today in the PP, Marcus Fuller talks about the woes of the Gophers offensive line. Perhaps the most inexperienced unit on the entire team coming into the season, the O-line has suffered several injuries.

The most noticeable names have been junior center Jeff Tow-Arnett, and sophomore tackle Dom Alford. Tow-Arnett seems to be on his way back to good health and playing time as he played a good chunk of Saturday's game against FAU.

The inexperience of the o-line was one of the biggest question marks coming into the season, along with questions about the defense as a whole. With some of the questions regarding the defenses capabilities being answered in the first 4 games, the questions still remain on the o-line.

The group has seemed to hold up fairly well through the first 4 games, but the competition jumps several notches this week as the team travels to Columbus. The Buckeyes defense has the speed, size and experience to take full advantage of offensive line mistakes, so this has to be a major concern for the Gophers. Running the ball this weekend is likely to be difficult, so Coach Dunbar is going to have to find creative ways to move the ball around.

RB's getting some catches... Luckily DeLeon Eskridge started to look like he might be able to add something to the passing attack out of the backfield as he caught 6 passes last week, giving Weber another option to throw to. Shady Salamon has just one catch on the season.

Speaking of throwing options... We all know that Decker is Weber's favorite target, and rightfully so, but who is number 2? Duanne Bennet has missed 2 complete games of the Gophers 4 total games... and yet, besides Decker, he has more receptions and more recieving yards than any other Gopher. Considering the competition that we have played, this should be a huge concern.

Has anyone else been slightly concerned with the lack of throws to Jack Simmons? Simmons has only 7 receptions on the season for 98 yards and 1 touchdown. That one touchdown, the 53 yarder vs. Northern Illinois in the season opener, accounts for more than half of Simmons' total production.

Recruiting... Perhaps the Gophers aren't concerned about how few times they have gotten Simmons involved in the offense, but I can gaurentee you there is one individual in Minneapolis who has noticed and who DOES care... Ra'Shede Hageman. Hageman wants to play for a program that is going to feature him as a pass catching TE. If Simmons doesn't start getting some love in this offense we might be watching another Minnesota golden boy leaving the state.

Hageman was at Saturday's game vs. FAU, however this was not his official campus visit. His official campus visit was rescheduled for later in the season so that he can interact with more recruits. Several Gopher recruits were not able to make the trip this week due to the effects of the hurricanes.

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