What to Watch for: Offense

The Golden Gophers must improve many facets of their offense to avoid another season as the Big Ten's worst offense.

What to Watch For on Offense:
There are three main concerns for the Gopher offense that must be remedied if Minnesota wants to improve their offense that finished last in the Big Ten in points per game, total yards, yards per game, and rushing yards per game. Will the experienced offensive line continue to grow under the tutelage of Coach Tim Davis and build upon a disappointing 2009 season? What receiver will emerge into the number one wide receiver role that was vacated when Eric Decker was drafted? Can starting quarterback Adam Weber take over a game and become the dynamic play maker from his magical sophomore campaign?

Best Offensive Player:
While he may not have played up to his potential last year, make no mistake, four-year starter and team captain Adam Weber is the focal point of the offense. The Golden Gopher coaches are fortunate to have their offense commanded by a tough, rugged player who has 38 consecutive starts, at a position where composure and game experience are invaluable. After spending the off season refining his passing skills at the Manning Passing Academy and building a report with his improving receivers, Weber can hopefully channel his vast game experience to stay composed in hostile environments allowing his immense talent to take over the game.

Position Unit That Must Improve:
The key to a successful offense starts with the muscle in the trenches. The Golden Gophers return all five starters from the offensive line last year. The group consists of four seniors and one junior and averages an astonishing 323 pounds per player. There are some crucial areas this group must improve upon for the offense to progress. The most imperative area for improvement is to considerably reduce the amount of times Adam Weber gets pressured and sacked. Minnesota ranked last in the Big Ten in sacks allowed giving up 41 total sacks, nine more than the second worst team, Northwestern. Sacks often put the offense in difficult situations and diminish the chance to convert third downs to continue the drive. Third down conversions is another area in which the offense and offensive line must improve. Converting only a league worst 34.7% of third down chances it's easy to see why the Gopher offense struggled to find a rhythm and put points on the scoreboard. One way to put the offensive in more favorable down and distances is to run the ball effectively. Minnesota struggled with this facet of the game, running for only three yards per carry last season. While the blame cannot be placed solely on the offensive line for this atrocious stat, they will have to use their colossal size to open up more holes for the running backs.

Breakout Star:
Talented 6-foot-3 200-pound wide receiver DaJon McKnight found himself cast into a starting spot when Eric Decker went down last season to an injury. He responded with two breakout performances against Michigan State where he nabbed four receptions for 98 and during Minnesota's bowl game against Iowa State where he hauled in a career best seven receptions for 124 yards. While it will be extremely difficult to replace the impact Eric Decker had for Minnesota, if McKnight can build upon his last five games he may develop into the go-to weapon the Gophers need to spark their offense.

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