Gophers vs. MTSU: Players to Watch breaks down one player from each squad that could become a difference maker in the game.

Blue Raiders:

One interesting aspect of the game will be to see if Middle Tennessee State's sophomore quarterback Logan Kilgore is up to the task of being a starting quarterback against a Big Ten defense.

Senior Dwight Dasher was supposed to start the game but was suspended. Dasher is an athletic freak who runs like a halfback. Kilgore will be easier to contain but is still a solid athlete who will still present a challenge to the Gophers.

During Tuesday's press conference, Coach Tim Brewster addressed the talent level of Kilgore. Brewster said, "We've looked at Logan Kilgore, really studied Logan. He came from Bakersfield Community College. I have a lot of contracts in California so we've been able to evaluate his talents, his skill. He's a guy that is very athletic, 6-foot-3, 180, or so, pounds, he can do the things that Dasher was going to do. They're not going to change their offense with Logan in the game. He's going to be able to step in and execute the offense."

Brewster went on to say, "He's plenty athletic enough to do the things they want to do running the ball. I'm very very impressed with his ability to throw the football."It will be very interesting to see how the young gopher defense stacks up against Kilgore and the rest of the high powered, Blue Raider offense.


With senior safety Kim Royston still recovering from a broken leg and senior Kyle Theret suspended for this game, all eyes will fall on true freshman, James Manuel.

Manuel, who will start at safety on Thursday, is a big kid at 6-foot-2, 210 pounds and is extremely strong. He also has great speed for his big size and can close quickly on a ball. Coach Brewster has been high on Manuel throughout camp.

In his press conference Tuesday, Brewster said, "James Manuel's going to start. I think he's going to play quite a bit. He's going to play a lot. He's a young guy. He's a very talented young guy. He's going to get baptism under fire Thursday on night national TV, but I think he's going to hold up very well. He's been a very impressive player in this camp and physically he's really impressive. What's going to be interesting is, is how's a young guy perform under the lights on national TV in his first college ball game."

James Manuel has the physical gifts to be a great safety but it will be very intriguing to see if he has picked up enough knowledge in camp to make the mental leap to the college game.

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