New Faces, New Expectations?

The Gophers have a new head coach, new coordinators and schemes and a new starting quarterback. They begin to find out what it all means this Saturday.

The Tim Brewster era will officially begin Saturday at home against Bowling Green. Brewster, who took over the program in mid-January, has raised expectations internally and generated a buzz among the fan base with his non-stop enthusiasm. Now, Gophers fans will get to see what kind of product Brewster puts on the field.

The team's most important development of fall camp was to identify a new starting quarterback. Brewster kept his decision a secret until Tuesday and then did the expected, naming redshirt freshman Adam Weber as his starter. Weber was competing with junior Tony Mortensen.

Weber trailed Mortensen slightly after spring practice as he struggled to learn offensive coordinator Mike Dunbar's complicated spread offense. But Weber is a gifted athlete with a strong arm who should give the offense a weapon with the option. Weber was a three-sport captain as a senior in high school so he also possesses good leadership skills.

The Gophers will still rely heavily on the running game. Senior running back Amir Pinnix has his sights set on a 1,500-yard season. True freshman tailback Duane Bennett was the biggest surprise of fall camp. He caught everyone's attention early and beat out sophomore Jay Thomas as the No. 2 tailback.

The Gophers defense made big strides this offseason as they transitioned to a more aggressive, attacking scheme under defensive coordinator Everett Withers. The Gophers will blitz more and utilize multiple formations in order to get more pressure on the quarterback.

The Gophers still have concerns in the secondary after starting cornerback Dominic Jones was dismissed from the team this summer. Three true freshmen — cornerback Ryan Collado and safeties Curtis Thomas and Kyle Theret — could see significant playing time this season.

NOTES

  • RB Amir Pinnix is in the best shape of his career and hopes to rush for 1,500 yards this season. Pinnix emerged as the team's No. 1 tailback last season and finished with 1,272 yards.

  • DE Willie VanDeSteeg finished with 10 sacks last season, second most in the Big Ten. He is bigger and stronger this season and the coaching staff believes he has a chance to be one of the premier defensive ends in the Big Ten.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "You've got to jump in the water and swim. We're going straight to the deep end." — Coach Tim Brewster on any anxiety about playing the first game.

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