Before each Minnesota football game, GopherIllustrated will ask five questions of an opposing beat writer. This week, we spoke with Oregon State beat writer Kevin Hampton of Gazette-Times (Corvallis, Oregon) to preview the Gophers' Week 1 home game against the Oregon State Beavers of the Pac-12.
1) What's the biggest thing about this Oregon State team that you drew from watching their fall practices thus far?
KH: They have a pretty fair amount of speed and athletic ability at receiver and several solid running backs with a blend of speed and power.
2) How much has the injury bug been in play for Oregon State this fall?
KH: Not too much as far as affecting the starters, but starting left tackle Sean Harlow is still in the recovery process from an ankle injury suffered during the season last fall. Harlow has been getting some reps lately, but he could redshirt and that would mean Blake Brandel, a redshirt freshman, would slide into the starting spot.
3) What are Oregon State’s greatest strengths for the 2016 season?
KH: The quarterback position is solidified with Utah State transfer Darell Garretson as the starter. The overall talent on the offense could prove to be above average with steady QB play.
4) What are the Beavers' greatest weaknesses?
KH: An unproven defensive line that lacks a lot of depth. Potential depth problems at several other spots that might be exposed with an injury or two. A very young group of defensive backs. The Beavers are coming off their worst season since 1996 and it could loom over them psychologically.
5) What is your outlook for the Oregon State vs. Minnesota game on Thursday, and what's your prediction for how this game turns out.
KH: I expect the game to be competitive into the fourth with Minnesota holding off OSU.