Minnesota Notes

ESPN's Pat Forde is looking for the Gophers to upset USC.

In a world of where anything can happen and with Forde's well known dislike for anything USC I can see why he made this prediction.

Just a little more attention for Forde.

The OZone offers up their Minnesota Preview...

Two-Cent Overview
The Jerry Kill era begins with the most dynamic playmaker the Gophers have had at quarterback since Rickey Foggie. However, MarQueis Gray will still need quite a bit of help. The defense has some linebackers, but zero pass rush and questionable coverage. The special teams could provide some leverage with Troy Stoudermire back on returns.

This team is different than the one that USC faced last season. First year head coach Jerry Kill does things differently than his predecessor. From what I have read here and there over the last few months the team has a different attitude.

MarQueis Gray leads the offense and Lane Kiffin is a little concerned about this dual-threat QB.

Minnesota junior MarQueis Gray has six career starts as a receiver. His passing stats are underwhelming: 8 of 23 for 86 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

So why is Trojans coach Lane Kiffin legitimately concerned about stopping him Saturday?

Because Gray can run. He was one of the top-rated dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation coming out of Indianapolis’ Ben Davis High in 2008. USC, dating back to the Pete Carroll days, has had trouble corralling mobile quarterbacks.

"That’s going to be a big challenge for us," Kiffin said Tuesday. "This is not just a mobile quarterback but a big, physical (one). They say he’s 240 pounds. We’re going to have our hands full, especially because they know what they’re doing with him."

I hate to be a downer but it sounds like the same old story when it comes to mobile QB's.

I know that Kiffin can't come out and say that we will contain him...etc., etc. but we have heard the same speech the past few seasons.

Maybe its the defense...See below.

- - -

ESPN-LA offers up their "first look" of Minnesota...

Monte Kiffin's defense, regardless of how different and simplified this year's version is, isn't meant to stop quick quarterbacks who run the ball. But that's exactly what Gray will be doing this Saturday, especially since his No. 2 receiver will be a new player, juco transfer Malcolm Moulton.

"This is not just a mobile quarterback but a big, physical one," Kiffin said. "They say he’s 240 pounds. We’re going to have our hands full, especially because they know what they’re doing with him."

For evidence, take a look at Northern Illinois' senior quarterback, Chandler Harnish. Last year, as a junior in his third year in Kill's system, Harnish ran the ball 137 times and accumulated 836 yards. Taking out sacks on pass plays, Harnish gained more than 900 yards on the ground alone, a large amount compared to the 2,530 yards he earned through the air.

Gray's ratio might be even more run-favored Saturday.

As great as the Tampa-Two can be, this defense is fundamentally flawed for this type of offense. We have seen it fail in the past when teams have a total package. Minnesota is still working out the kinks and trying to rebuild...they can't relay on just one guy. Gray may be great player but he isn't VY...yet.

That being said, until I actually see the defense improved form last season I am not yet going to relax that we have turned the corner.

- - -

Still no word on a starting tailback...

But D.J. Morgan is doing all he can to be the starter.

The former state hurdles champion at Woodland Hills Taft High appears fully healed from the 2009 knee injury he suffered in a playoff game during his senior season. The injury required reconstructive surgery, forcing Morgan to redshirt in 2010.

He looked sharp during spring practice but suffered a knee bruise during training camp and was sidelined for a few days. The time off also gave a sore hamstring time to heal, enabling Morgan to return at full strength.

"I'm out here being more explosive and running full speed," he said.

On Tuesday, running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu pointed to Morgan doing post-practice work with receiver Robert Woods.

Morgan has a great work ethic!

Just the thing we need...guys pushing each other to be better.

- - -

SBNation-LA has USC's all-time record against MInnesota...

The No. 25 USC Trojans open their 2011 college football campaign on Saturday, September 3 with a battle against the Minnesota Golden Gophers at the Los Angeles Coliseum. These two teams have met seven times, with the Trojans holding a 5-1-1 advantage in the all-time series. Minnesota hasn't battled USC in Los Angeles for 32 years:

  • 2011 - No. 20 USC 32, at Minnesota 21: The Gophers took a 14-13 lead late in the third quarter, but Robert Woods returned the ensuing kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown, igniting a run of 19 unanswered points by the Trojans.

I think 'SC will get another win on Saturday...but I just want to see how much this team has improved.

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