A win is a win, but the Gophers have room for improvement after a 10-point victory against Buffalo in the opener. Although the defense was excellent, I was left with concerns about other areas of the game. Here are three things to look for as Minnesota faces Oregon State this weekend.
It appears both Demry Croft and Conor Rhoda will see snaps again this week. Rhoda started against Buffalo and went 12/21 for 176 yards with a touchdown and a pick. Croft attempted 11 passes, completing seven, and also rushed six times for 32 yards. The Gophers have one more non-conference game on the 16th, followed by a bye week, so there’s no real rush for coach P.J. Fleck to pick and name a starter. Unless one quarterback drastically outplays the other, this will be a situation to keep an eye on both this weekend and next.
One surprising thing about the Buffalo game was that junior Rashad Still didn’t catch a pass. I thought Still would be the guy to emerge as a true number one target this season. Instead, it appears to be sophomore Tyler Johnson. Johnson caught six passes for 141 yards and a 61-yard touchdown. (The team’s longest passing TD in 2016 was 22 yards). Demetrius Douglas also had six receptions, and six other players has at least one. I’ll be looking to see what happens as defenses, starting with the Beavers’, focus more on eliminating Johnson as a threat.
As expected, punter Ryan Santoso picked up where he left off a year ago with a solid game. What I didn’t expect was kicker Emmit Carpenter missing two field goals- the same number he missed all season a year ago. One was from 50 yards, which isn’t that surprising a miss for a college kicker- except that Carpenter made multiple kicks from beyond the 50 last season. The other was from 36 yards, which is a very un-Carpenter-like miss. The Gophers have to be hoping he gets the chance to drill a couple and get back on track this week.
Minnesota faces Oregon State on Saturday, Sept. 9 at 7:00pm PST, 10:00pm EDT. The game will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1.