Game Preview: New Mexico State at Minnesota

On Saturday, the Minnesota Golden Gophers will host the New Mexico State Aggies for the 2011 season home opener. Kick-off at TCF Bank Stadium is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. and will be televised by the Big Ten Network

DATE: September 10, 2011
TIME: Saturday, 2:37 p.m. (CST)
SITE: Minneapolis, Minnesota
STADIUM: TCF Bank Stadium

SERIES: This is the first meeting between Minnesota and New Mexico State. Both teams will be looking to notch their first win of the season on Saturday.

RECORD: Minnesota (0-1, 0-0 Big Ten), New Mexico State(0-1, 0-0 WAC)

QUOTEABLES:

"Well, I'm excited about today. I'm excited about going out there and getting the bad taste out of my mouth and see if we can get better. I'm excited about being here at home. The biggest things I'll tell you is our fans were awesome out at USC. We're in the fourth quarter and having a chance to win and our crowd in the corner was as loud as their crowd. We had a great following, and it's going to be great to be here at home, and our players we need to see if we're going to improve."- Head coach Jerry Kill on his excitement in playing his first home game at TCF Bank Stadium.

"Minnesota's a good football team they're well coached they're playing hard, they're pretty sound with what they're doing on both sides of the ball. They have a great returner, they have some very good players. Coach Kill and his staff have done a great job teaching this team to believe."- Aggies head coach Dewayne Walker on the program and coaching staff at Minnesota.

"From what our coaches told us yesterday that they're more disciplined than Ohio. They swarm more and faster than Ohio did this past Saturday. We just have to play our game we'll be ready for them.- Wide receiver Kemonte' Bateman on what it will be like to go up against Minnesota and a Big Ten defense.

KEYS TO THE GAME:

GOPHERS:

Last week, the Ohio Bobcats were able to rush for 245 yards on 47 carries against the Aggies defense. The undersized NMSU defensive line was gouged for big runs up the middle and around the edge. After rushing for only 110 yards last week against USC, the Gophers will look to get their running game early. Look for the Gophers to run a number of read options with the ball going to the Duane Bennett to setup MarQueis Gray for a bigger run later on as the Aggies key in on Bennett and the other running backs.

If the Gophers establish the running game early, there will be more room for Gray to sit in the pocket and find his open receivers. USC put pressure on Gray last week, causing sacks and forcing throws. The Minnesota line should give Gray ample time to hit his top receiving targets of Eric Lair and Da'Jon McKnight.

Defensively the Gophers will have to limit the NMSU passing attack. The Aggies will look to get their wide receivers involved in a multitude of different ways including screens, sweeps and reverses. The key to stopping this will be for the Minnesota defensive line to get pressure on quarterback Andrew Manley. If the Gophers can get in the backfield to disrupt Manley's flow, they should be able to stifle the dangerous Aggie receivers.

AGGIES:

The Aggies will look to improve from last week upon their early down success rates. Throughout most of their game against Ohio, the Aggies faced many third and long situations. If they can get a running game going early on and keep drives alive the Aggies could find themselves in this game much longer than anyone expects.

The Aggies on defense will try to shut down the Gophers' rushing attack early and force them to go to the air. To stop the run the Aggies will most likely stack the box and dare the Gophers to attack them down field. If NMSU wants to keep this game close they will have to come up with some way to shut down the Gophers ground game and rely upon their secondary to keep the Gophers wide receivers in check.

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

GOPHERS:

-- TE Eric Lair #85 – Always a dangerous player in the Gopher offense, Eric Lair has a chance for a big game against New Mexico State. Lair had just two receptions last week against USC and will look to have a break out game this Saturday. Look for the Gopher offense to find Lair early and establish his presence as an elite receiving tight end.

-- CB/KR Troy Stoudermire #11 – The senior cornerback, like the rest of the Gopher defense, had trouble containing star USC receiver Robert Woods. Stoudermire will have an opportunity to bounce back this week when he goes up against Taveon Rogers, a player who put up huge numbers in New Mexico State's opener. Stoudermire is also on the verge of breaking the Big Ten record for most kick return yards. He is only 24 yards behind current record-holder David Gilreath.

AGGIES:

-- WR/KR Taveon Rogers #1 – The 6-foot, 188-pound receiver had a big game last week against the Ohio Bobcats accounting for five receptions, 92 yards and a touchdown. He also added 177 yard returning kicks, including a 97-yard return for a score. Last Saturday, Rogers showed good shiftiness and speed with the ball in his hand. As a wide receiver, Rogers showed solid hands and route running ability.

-- S Donyae Coleman #3 – Coleman heads up a decent defensive backfield and looked good in both run support and in the passing game. Coleman finished with 11 solo tackles, three assisted tackles, a fumble recovery, and an interception against the Bobcats last week. Coleman has solid coverage skills which he showcased on his interception. Coleman showed good closing speed and was able to jump the route after reading the quarterbacks eyes.

-- QB Andrew Manley #8 – The sophomore started the final three games of last season and had a good performance in their opener throwing for 362 yards and two touchdowns in NMSU's 44-24 loss last weekend. Manley showed good arm strength and accuracy but did try to force some throws, one of which ended up being intercepted. He also showed good pocket presence and was able to roll away from pressure when the pocket started to collapse.


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