Entering this contest, Minnesota wide receiver core was not overly impressive this season. Veteran senior wide receiver Derrick Engel, who missed last night's game against Syracuse in the Texas Bowl, led the team in receptions (25), receiving yards (401) and receiving touchdowns (5). He was Nelson and Leidner's main go to target throughout the season.
Who were the Gophers going to turn to when they needed a play made? Freshman wide out Drew Wolitarsky came to play against the Orange and was targeted a bunch last night. On one drive, he was thrown to three times in a row, where one was catch, which was a touchdown got called back due to a offensive pass interference. Coming into this game, he only had 11 catches for 165 yards on the season, so he was not a big factor in this offense all year. That changed in yesterday's game.
The 6-3, 208-pound wide out ended the game with 4 receptions for 94 yards and a touchdown that came early in the fourth quarter when Gopher quarterback Mitch Leidner unloaded a bomb over the top of the Syracuse defense to find a wide open Wolitarsky for the 55 yard score. He was consistently beating his man and if more throws were on time and on target, then you could have seen the young wide out have better numbers.
The pass that Wolitarsky wishes he could get redemption on was with 11 seconds left, Minnesota attempted two hail marys in the endzone and the first deep pass went right through his Wolitarsky's hands and fell down on the endzone's turf to end the Golden Gophers' season after the second deep ball wasn't even close.
The future is bright with this offense as they are returning their starter running back in David Cobb, both quarterbacks in Philip Nelson and Mitch Leidner, a bunch of their young and talented wide receivers like Wolitarsky and most of their offensive line staying.Despite the loss, the Gopher fans might have found a new pass catching target that they will be watching over the years in and hope eventually turns into their next Eric Decker.