Midseason Report: Offense

Halfway through the season, the Gophers offense has shown promise at times and struggled at others. Minnesota has seen an increased running game and a successful passing game but there is still room for improvement offensively. To analyze the offense thus far it is important to look at the strengths and weaknesses of the Gophers' offensive attack.

Strength: The Gophers' biggest strength this season has been the play of the receivers. Da'Jon McKnight, MarQueis Gray and Eric Lair have started the season off great. McKnight has shown great progress as a wide out after gaining experience last season when Eric Decker went down with a season ending injury.

On the year, McKnight has 22 catches for 316 yards and a team-high four receiving touchdowns. McKnight showcased his talent and athleticism against Wisconsin where he came up two amazing catches for touchdowns.

Gray has slowed recently due to a minor injury but has compiled stats of 26 receptions for 349 yards and four scores. The quarterback turned wide receiver uses his 6-foot-4 frame to snag catches with ease.

There are still times when Gray shows signs of inexperience at the position but overall he is one of the best receivers on the team.

Lair has been a huge part of the Gophers offense recently through six games Lair has 21 receptions for 328 yards and two touchdowns. Adam Weber finds Lair on check downs or deep patterns down the field off the play-action.

Much of Minnesota's success passing has come off play-action. If the Gophers want to have more offensive success they will need to start passing on earlier downs instead of waiting until third and long to throw the ball.

Weakness: The main weakness of the offense has been how the Gophers continually stall after long sustained drives. Throughout the season the Gophers will have a long drive or have a huge play that gets them deep into the opponents' territory and they stall offensively and have to kick a field goal or punt.

The best evidence of this is how the Gophers are ranked first in time of possession in the Big Ten with just over 33 minutes per game. Despite great ball control Minnesota ranks eighth in the conference in scoring, averaging 26.2 points per game.

The Gophers lack of finishing drives was apparent last week at Wisconsin on the first possession of the game. On the third play from scrimmage the Weber threw a pass to Eric Lair that went for 33 yards and got the Gophers to the Wisconsin 35. Minnesota then proceeded to run four plays for fours yards before turning the ball over on downs.

If they Gophers want to energize their offense they will need to find effective ways to avoid squandering quality drives.

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