Gophers-Bowling Green: Scouting the Matchups

The Gophers start a whole new era Saturday against Bowling Green. Find out more about each team's offense, defense and the players to watch in the opening game of Tim Brewster's head coaching career.

THIS WEEK'S GAME: Bowling Green at Minnesota, Sept. 1 — Tim Brewster has talked the talk. Now, it's time for him to coach. Brewster will make his debut as a college football coach Saturday. While many will be watching to see how Brewster handles himself, the Gophers also will unveil a new offense (spread), new defense (more aggressive) and new quarterback (redshirt freshman Adam Weber). That's a lot of new beginnings.

A running back's dream. The Golden Gophers join Northern Illinois as the only two Division I-A teams that have had a 1,000-yard rusher for eight straight years. Meanwhile, Bowling Green counters with three solid tailbacks in Eric Ransom, Willie Geter and Chris Bullock. The opener represents a big test for sophomore quarterback Tyler Sheehan, who has played in four career games.

MINNESOTA

SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: The Gophers will unveil a new offense and new quarterback. The Gophers have switched to a spread offense under offensive coordinator Mike Dunbar, and redshirt freshman Adam Weber has the won the starting quarterback job. Dunbar expects his offense to be balanced, which means the Gophers will still rely on their potent running game.

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The Gophers have more depth along the line than in recent years, but their secondary remains a concern. The Gophers ranked among the nation's worst against the pass last season and now will rely on several true freshmen in the secondary. The coaches hope to help those youngsters by getting more pressure on the quarterback.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB Adam Weber -- He won the quarterback job after competing with junior Tony Mortensen. Weber has a strong arm and is a good athlete, which allows the Gophers to run some option.

LB John Shevlin -- Though he's battled injuries his entire career, Shevlin is finally healthy. The senior captain has a chance to be a play-maker in the new defense if he can stay on the field.

RB Amir Pinnix -- He's coming off a junior season in which he rushed for 1,272 yards. The senior captain has his sights set on a 1,500-yard season. Offensive coordinator Mike Dunbar demands that his spread offense be balanced so Pinnix should get plenty of work.

ROSTER REPORT: The Gophers emerged from fall camp relatively healthy. Reserve linebacker and special-teams player John Carlson re-injured his left knee after suffering a torn ACL this spring. His injury was the only significant injury. Junior college transfer Derrick Onwuachi joined the team in July and has a chance to make an impact this season, according to coaches. Onwuachi has raw skills but is a tremendous athlete, which is evident in pass-rushing situations. True freshman running back Duane Bennett was the top surprise of camp and won the No. 2 tailback spot. Bennett is a compact, powerful runner who impressed coaches with his ability to pick up blitzes and protect the quarterback. The Gophers could end up playing four true freshman wide receivers because of depth concerns. Tray Herndon worked with the first-team at slot receiver the final week of camp. Sophomore Lee Campbell moved from linebacker to defensive end and won the starting job. Campbell added about 35 pounds in one calendar year and impressed coaches with his pass-rushing ability. He also is being used as a linebacker in certain situations.


BOWLING GREEN

SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: Balance is the key for the Falcons. Last year, Bowling Green led the Mid-American Conference in rushing with 176.7 yards per game but couldn't establish a solid passing game. Sophomore quarterback Tyler Sheehan has a better knowledge of the offense and more weapons at his disposal.

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The BGSU defense will certainly be faster this season. An influx of underclassmen led to a long season on defense, but that won't be as much as factor this year. End Diyral Briggs, with 11.5 sacks in the last two years, anchors a solid defensive line.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB Tyler Sheehan — With just four games under his belt, Sheehan earned the starting quarterback spot for the opener at Minnesota. The Falcons will need to move the ball and keep Minnesota's running game off the field.

WR Corey Partridge — Finished last season strong with 345 receiving yards in the last three games. Will most likely be the main receiver for Sheehan. Provides a good target to guard against teams stacking the box.

RB Willie Geter — Shot up the depth chart after arriving from Florida. Coaching staff compares him to Garrett Wolfe, who led the nation in rushing and total yardage last year.

K Sinisa Vrvilo — The Falcons had trouble making field goals last year. The addition of the strong-legged Vrvilo will help the young offense gain confidence.

ROSTER REPORT: Sophomore Tyler Sheehan won the starting quarterback position for the opener at Minnesota. Sheehan played in just four games as a true freshman last year. BGSU coach Gregg Brandon called Sheehan a better fit for BGSU's offense.

True freshman tailback Willie Geter is expected to start against the Golden Gophers. Juco transfer Eric Ransom missed part of preseason camp because of a hamstring injury, giving Geter a chance to impress the coaching staff.

Sophomore wide receiver Freddie Barnes was cleared to practice this week. Barnes is an electric player and is triple threat with his ability to pass, run and catch the ball. Wide receiver Keston Cheathem is questionable for the opener with a shoulder injury.


Gopher Illustrated Top Stories