Caylor Arnold - USA Today Sports

The Gophers are currently battling a war on injuries and attrition

The Gophers are currently battling a war on injuries and attrition after a tough start to the Big Ten season.

After a sluggish start to the Big Ten season with Minnesota losing to #16 Northwestern on the road, the Gophers are looking for answers, and the tough part is, they've had a lot of bad luck with things out of their control with injuries and attrition.

Injuries

Here's what Minnesota's projected depth chart was coming into the 2015 season just after fall camp. 

QB: Mitch Leidner / Chris Streveler

RB: Rodrick Williams and Rodney Smith

FB: Miles Thomas / Tyler Hartmann

TE: Lincoln Plsek / Duke Anyanwu

WR: KJ Maye / Eric Carter

WR: Drew Wolitarsky / Isaiah Gentry

LT: Ben Lauer / Alex Mayes

LG: Jon Christenson / Joe Bjorklund

C: Brian Bobek / Tyler Moore

RG: Josh Campion / Connor Mayes

RT: Jonah Pirsig / Foster Bush

Defense

DE: Theiren Cockran / Gaelin Elmore

DT: Steven Richardson / Robert Ndondo-Lay

DT: Scott Ekpe / Andrew Stelter

DE: Hank Ekpe / Alex Keith

OLB: De'Vondre Campbell / Jonathan Celestin

MLB: Cody Poock / Everett Williams

OLB: Jack Lynn / Julian Huff

CB: Briean Boddy-Calhoun / Craig James

S: Damarius Travis / Kunle Ayinde

S: Antoino Johnson / Ace Rogers

CB: Eric Murray / Jalen Myrick

Looks pretty good at the time. Issue is here's the GopherDigest projected depth chart heading into Purdue this weekend in the Gophers sixth game of the year. 

QB: Mitch Leidner / Demry Croft

RB: Rodney Smith / Shannon Brooks

FB: Miles Thomas / Colton Beebe

TE: Brandon Lingen / Nate Wozniak

WR: KJ Maye / Eric Carter

WR: Drew Wolitarsky / Isaiah Gentry

LT: Jonah Pirsig / Foster Bush

LG: Joe Bjorklund / Foster Bush

C: Brian Bobek / Tyler Moore

RG: Connor Mayes / Foster Bush

RT: Josh Campion / Foster Bush

Defense

DE: Theiren Cockran / Gaelin Elmore

DT: Steven Richardson / Robert Ndondo-Lay

DT: Scott Ekpe / Andrew Stelter

DE: Hank Ekpe / Alex Keith

OLB: De'Vondre Campbell / Jonathan Celestin

MLB: Cody Poock / Everett Williams

OLB: Jack Lynn / Julian Huff

CB: Jalen Myrick / Antonio Shenault

S: Kunle Ayinde / Duke McGhee

S: Antoino Johnson / Ace Rogers

CB: Eric Murray / KiAnte Hardin

(Bolded = new starter/ to the depth chart, Italicized = missed time this year)

In summary

Minnesota currently has 19 changes to the two deep in the six weeks since fall camp broke. That's absurdly high and a large part of that is injuries. Here's a listed of guys that are currently out:

  1. Tackle Ben Lauer (knee and hand)
  2. Guard Jon Christenson (knee)
  3. Guard Joe Bjorklund (knee)
  4. Tackle Alex Mayes (concussion)
  5. Tight end Duke Anyanwu (knee)
  6. Tight end Lincoln Plsek (back)
  7. Corner Briean Boddy-Calhoun (knee)
  8. Safety Damarius Travis (hamstring)

Here's a list of guys that have missed time so far through five games for the Gophers:

  1. Tight End Brandon Lingen (concussion)
  2. Wide receiver KJ Maye (ribs)
  3. Wide receiver Drew Wolitarsky (concussion)
  4. Wide receiver Isaiah Gentry (hamstring)
  5. Tackle Jonah Pirsig (shoulder)
  6. Tackle Josh Campion (concussion)
  7. DE Robert Ndondo-Lay (unspecified)
  8. MLB Cody Poock (ribs)
  9. DB KiAnte Hardin (ankle)
  10. DB Antonio Johnson (concussion)
  11. DB Kunle Ayinde (unspecified)
  12. DB Ace Rogers (knee)
  13. DB Blake Cashman (unspecified)

If you've seen a larger injury report through five games, I'd love to see it. Minnesota literally can't catch a break with injuries and it's extremely tough to establish a running game when most of the starters are out/injured. 

Attrition

Also hasn't helped that Minnesota has dealt with some attrition since Kill has been to campus, particularly at the quarterback position. 

Gopher quarterback signees under Kill:

  • 2011: Dexter Foreman and Max Shortell (both transferred)
  • 2012: Phillip Nelson (transfer) Mitch Leidner (starting)
  • 2013: Chris Streveler (moved to WR)
  • 2014: Dimonic Roden-McKinzy (transfer)
  • 2015: Demry Croft (backup)

Of the seven quarterbacks Kill has signed, four have transferred out and another has receiver moved positions, leaving the Gophers with just two quarterbacks on scholarship now in 2015. It's something that can't be foreseen as transfers happen all around college football. 

Wide receiver is another position that's seen an unusually high number:

  • 2012: Jamel Harbison and Andre McDonald
  • 2013: Donovahn Jones
  • 2014: Conner Krizancic

Especially with Minnesota looking for playmakers to replace Maxx Williams and David Cobb, it'd be nice to have Harbison and McDonald as seniors, but the two made some poor life decisions and had to move on. 

Summary

My point is that while Minnesota's play on the field does need to improve, some things can't be controlled and just happen like injuries and attrition. The Gophers seem have stumbled upon some bad luck early on, but they'll need to change their luck heading forward into Big Ten play.


Gopher Illustrated Top Stories