Notable Additions: Adam Ernst, QB, Jr. 6-2, 210; Paris Hamilton, WR, Sr. 6-1, 195.
Notable Subtractions: Asad Abdul Khaliq QB (graduation), Ben Utecht TE (graduation), Aaron Hosack WR (graduation), Ben West LB (graduation), Eli Ward S (graduation), Justin Isom S (graduation)
Notable Returnees: Jared Ellerson WR, Darrell Reid DE, Terrance Campbell LB, Kyle McKenzie LB.
|2004 FOOTBALL SCHEDULE|
Defensive Overview: The Gophers haven't enjoyed tough defenses in recent years, but they have been busy adding speed on the defensive side of the ball over the past few seasons. They also are hoping one full year under defensive coordinator Greg Hudson will help the unit improve in 2004. Darrell Reid and Mark Losli will lead the defensive line with their experience, and they have a relatively experienced group of linebackers in Terrance Campbell and Kyle McKenzie to help stop the run. The big question remains the Gophers' pass defense, which has been erratic in the past and will have to replace the two starting safeties from last year, Eli Ward and Justin Isom. Justin Fraley brings some experience at strong safety, but free safety will be manned by an inexperienced athlete.
Special Teams Overview: Rhys Lloyd led a very solid special teams effort last year, kicking game winners in two big matchups — a 35-yarder as time expired to beat rival Wisconsin and a 42-yarder in the final minutes of the Sun Bowl to give the Gophers a 31-30 win over Oregon. He also did a solid job punting. The biggest question on special teams will be replacing long snapper Peter Prudden.
The Gophers have been criticized for padding their schedule with weak non-conference opponents in the past, but... this year they will have some measure of early proving to do with top-25 Toledo right out of the gate and a decent Colorado State team before entering the Big Ten schedule. Last season, the Gophers' Big Ten title hopes fell apart with a second-half collapse against Michigan in the Metrodome, followed by another loss to Michigan State. They will get their chance at revenge with those two squads with back-to-back October road games (in 2003 it was back-to-back October home games). It should be the pivotal point in the Gophers' season — either helping them build upon an improving program or throwing them out of contention for one of the top spots in the Big Ten.
|TheInsiders.com 2004 College Football Preview|
|ACC||Big 12||Big East||Big Ten||Pac-10||SEC||Independent|
Minnesota Northwestern Ohio State Penn State Purdue Wisconsin