Scouting Minnesota Golden Gophers Report
Coach: PJ Flick, Season 6 (37-23; 67-45 career)
This season: 2-0
Last week: defeated Western Illinois, 62-10, at home
5 players to watch
• WR Chris Autman-Bell, Sr.: The Gophers’ biggest threat, has the highest trolling (eight) and has received yards (156) so far this season.
• Zaheer Ayman Mohamed Ibrahim, Sr: After returning from an Achilles tendon injury in 2021, Ibrahim has 262 yards and four TDs in two games. He is sixth in Minnesota sprint history (3,265 yards), and needs only 12 yards to break into the top five.
• QB Tanner Morgan, Sr.: Player in 41 games, bowled for 461 yards and touched down this season. He also had three quick touchdowns, which is already a high in his career.
• DL Thomas Rush, Sr.: Leader at the front, he’s scored five tackles and one bag this season. He has only eight bags in his career, but two of them have faced CU in their 2021 game at Boulder.
• LB Mariano Sori-Marin, Sr: One of the best midfielders in the Big Ten, he’s scored 10 tackles and tackles for a loss so far this season. He ran 85 times a year ago and has 196 times in his career.
Although the Gophers have a senior year six and four quarterback in Tanner Morgan, their attack depends on the game of running and the fatigue of opponents. They haven’t scored quickly this year. Of the 16 campaigns to score, seven were 11 or more plays and 13 were at least six plays. Last year, 70% of the plays were played and so far this year, the ground game was used 69.4% of the time. When they throw, Morgan has been very effective in his career, earning a 152.5 passer rating.
It’s hard to judge the Gophers this season based on opponents (New Mexico State, Western Illinois), but they have good players and experience across the board. Seven rookie players returned from a unit that ranked second in the Big Ten (and first eight nationally) in scoring and overall defense a year ago. The gopher also added five transfers. So far, they have been the dominant ones, with defending champion Georgia the only team in the country that has allowed fewer points.
Minnesota special teams
Gophers are expert at kicking a game. Matthew Trickett, the 2021 graduate transfer from Kent State, is 17-for-28 in field goals and 49-of-51 in extra points with Minnesota (career: 67 of 85 field goals, 143 of 146 pats). He struggled in CU last year, scoring 1-3 on field goals and missing an extra point. Australian Mark Crawford in his third season as a gopher gambler. He averaged 41.7 yards per kick a year ago and has averaged 38.5 yards per kick this season.
How can Minnesota win?
Play football in Minnesota, which means controlling the clock with a game of running and finishing drives in the end zone. The Gophers have been very effective in this regard this year and they have many back runs to get the job done against the Buffs. Defensively, the Gophers need to limit large CU plays and quickly banish the Buffs’ attack from the field.
notable gopher gopher
• Tanner Morgan has the most wins for a quarterback in Minnesota history, scoring 29-12 in his 41st start. He is second in program history in passing yards (8,533) and touchdown touchdowns (57).
• Six-year-old Chris Outman Bell has received at least one pass in his last 40 games. This is the longest streak in the country, according to Minnesota research.
• Minnesota has a scoring margin of plus 90 (100-10) through two games. This is the program’s best margin since 1905, when the team outperformed its first two rivals 128-0.
• Since Flick arrived in Minnesota prior to the 2017 season, the Gophers have earned 16-1 in out-of-conference play, a 0.941 percentage. He is the fourth-best player in the country during that time, behind Alabama (24-1, .960), Georgia (22-1, .957) and Oklahoma State (19-1, .950).
• Minnesota has 23 players in at least their fifth season of college football. The Gophers have 15 players in their fifth season, seven in their sixth year and one in their seventh year.