Scouting Report: The Minnesota Gophers

Minnesota on offense

Different looks. That’s what Iowa State’s defense has been preparing for in anticipation for the 2009 Insight Bowl, where the Cyclones will take on Minnesota this New Year’s Eve.

While the Gophers best offensive player Eric Decker is injured, over the course of the season, Minnesota has shown just enough different looks to concern the Iowa State coaching staff.

“They are very multiple,” Iowa State defensive coordinator Wally Burnham told “They’ll be in I-Backs. They’ll be in no-backs. They’ll be in one-back. They’ll be in two tight ends, three tight ends. We are having to prepare for all of that. That is their operation right now.”

It’s hard to tell exactly how the Gophers will attack Iowa State’s 99th ranked defense. Minnesota is ranked 112th nationally in rushing offense. Their large offensive line hasn’t proven to be very physical to this point. The Gophers pass-offense is ranked 82nd nationally, so obviously, that’s hardly prolific.

How do you prepare for this team? Since Decker’s injury, many have called the Gophers “inept.”

“They might come in and say that they can run it on Iowa State. We might see 60 runs,” Burnham said. “From breaking them down and getting our scouting reports ready and our game plan together, we have had to rely a lot on what they have done.”

Burnham said that the Cyclone coaching staff has exhaustively scouted all 12 of Minnesota’s regular season football games. Burnham said that he expects Minnesota to use their tight ends a lot on Thursday. That’s been Minnesota’s “bread and butter” since Decker went down against Ohio State on Oct. 24.

“They are a well-coached football team,” Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads told” “I have a lot of respect for Tim and the job that he does orchestrating the whole program. You can see the pro game influence on the offensive side of the ball with this background. They certainly run a lot of ball formations when it comes to their offense. That is very challenging to our group.”

I anticipate the Gophers to use freshman quarterback MarQueis Gray a lot, in a handful of different ways. He’ll line up in the Wildcat. With as much time as Minnesota has had to prepare for Iowa State, I fully anticipate Tim Brewster to find a way to get the exciting freshman involved in the post season. In return, that could have long-term implications by keeping Gray and the Gopher fan base somewhat happy.

Minnesota on defense

This team is a lot better on the defensive side of the football than on offense. The Gophers are ranked 61st nationally in total defense. Their rush defense is ranked 64th compared to their 60th mark against the pass.

“Kevin Cosgrove, I have known for a number of years. He does a phenomenal job with their defense and game in and game out, seeing different offensive schemes,” Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads told “He puts his defense in a position to be successful.”

A lot of attention has been paid to Minnesota’s size on the offensive line. According to Rhoads, it’s Minnesota’s defensive front seven that just might be Iowa State’s largest obstacle on Thursday.

“It is a positive challenge because I don’t think our guys played as well on the offensive front late in the season as we did the first 2/3 of the season,” Rhoads said. “I think that they are practicing awfully well right now. It is a great way for them to end the season, with only one senior starter going into our offseason for our other four guys to really show up and see if we can’t run the ball, which is what we always try to begin with and protect our quarterback, which throughout most of the season, we were as good as anybody in the country.”

Senior linebacker Lee Campbell is the anchor on this Gopher D. Campbell leads the team in tackling at just less than 10 a game. He also leads the team in tackles for a loss.


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