Burning Questions: Offense

With the 2011 college football season drawing closer each day, Minnesota fans have some burning questions going into the season. In this segment, Goldensports.net's Josh Schuerman answered questions from subscribers pertaining to the Gophers' offense.

Who is the biggest surprise in the starting line-up?

JS: Right now I don't think there are too many surprises at the moment. The biggest surprise could come at wide receiver if Victor Keise were to usurp Ge'Shun Harris. Heading into the season we all had a pretty good idea that Chris Bunders, Ryan Orton and Ryan Wynn would be starting on the offensive line with Ed Olson at left tackle and either Jimmy Gjere or Brooks Michel at right tackle. Right now it looks like Gjere will be the starter on the right side with Foster Bush and Sean Ferguson fairly close behind. I was hoping that to see what Brooks Michel could do but it looks like he will be out for the year due to concussions.

Will this be a run or pass oriented offense?

JS: This will be a run orientated offense. Look for it to be around a 60-40 split with 60% of the plays being runs and 40% being pass. Last season at Northern Illinois, offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover called approximately 64% run plays to only 36% pass plays. It would appear that the Golden Gophers are transitioning to an offense similar to the scheme run by former coach Glen Mason—with a little twist where the quarterback will get a chance to call his own number on a variety of read options.

Last year, NIU ranked No. 10 in the nation in total offense with 450.0 yards per game. The Huskies averaged 195.5 yards per game passing and 260.5 yards per game rushing. Don't expect the Gophers to replicate these numbers in year one under a new staff but there should be an uptick from last year's 135.3 yards per game rushing, which ranked No. 86 in the nation.

How does the offensive line look? Can they control the line of scrimmage?

JS: The Gophers have lost a lot of experience from last year's line when they graduated Jeff Wills, D.J. Burris, Dominic Alford and Matt Carufel. Due to injuries there are a few players like Ryan Wynn, Chris Bunders, Ryan Orton and Ed Olson who saw a lot of playing time last year. This will help them as they adjust to new roles as starters. Luckily the senior players—Orton, Wynn and Bunders—have a lot of experience as back-ups and in spot-starting roles.

This season I expect to see a mixed bag of results from the offensive line. There will be times when they look great and other times when they struggle. The middle of the line should be adept at controlling the line of scrimmage even if the back-ups have to come in. At the tackles, the starters will be a redshirt sophomore (Olson) and red-shirt freshman (Gjere) and with youth comes mistakes. As the season progresses, I'd expect to see growth and improvement at those two spots and along the line as a whole as they become a more cohesive unit.

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