Nov 10, 2012; Champaign, IL, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers quarterback Philip Nelson (9) throws the ball during the fourth quarter against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bradley Leeb-USA TODAY Sports

Big Ten Conference Football Preview: Minnesota Golden Gophers (Part 1: Offense)

The Minnesota Golden Gophers come into the 2013 season after finishing tied for 5th in the Big Ten – Legends with an overall record of 6-7 and a conference record of 2-6. The Golden Gophers will look to improve their Big Ten conference record in 2013. They started last season 4-0, but then went 2-7 and ended the year with a Meineke Car Care Bowl loss to Texas Tech.

Here’s a look at the averages they had per game and their rankings compared to the other schools in Division I:

  • Nov 24, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA: DUPLICATE***Minnesota Golden Gophers wide receiver Derrick Engel (18)***Minnesota Golden Gophers linebacker Peter Westerhaus (18) jumps and catches a eight yard catch in the second half against the Michigan State Spartans at TCF Bank Stadium. Michigan State won 26-10. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

    Total: 321.4 yards per game (111th overall)

  • Passing: 169.5 yards per game (109th overall)
  • Rushing: 151.9 yards per game (68th overall)

One player that Minnesota will be without this upcoming season is their leading receiver from 2012, A.J. Barker.

As a senior in 2012, Barker lead the Golden Gophers with 577 receiving yards and seven touchdowns on 30 receptions. He also returned nineteen punts for 135 yards.

The man that will be responsible for taking over for Barker this year will be senior Derrick Engel.

Last season, he was second on the Golden Gophers with 375 receiving yards on eighteen receptions. He also only had a single touchdown.

However, Engel cannot do it all on his own. He will need other receivers to step up as well if Minnesota wants to win more games in 2013.

The most important player for the Minnesota offense in 2013 will be quarterback Philip Nelson. Nelson split time as the starting quarterback last season, but played from October 20th to the end of the season.

He threw for 873 yards on 75 completions. He also threw eight touchdowns and eight interceptions. On top of that, he ran for 184 yards on 69 attempts.

Although Nelson is only a sophomore, the Golden Gophers will need for him to establish himself as a viable option at the quarterback position this season. As it is for most teams in college football, Minnesota’s success will be directly tied to the success of Philip Nelson.

More Key Offensive Players:

  • Donnell Kirkwood (reshirt junior running back) – 926 rushing yards in 2012
  • Isaac Fruechte (redshirt junior wide receiver) – 256 receiving yards in 2012
  • Devin Crawford-Tufts (junior wide receiver) – 189 receiving yards in 2012

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Tags: A.J. Barker Big Ten Derrick Engel Football Illinois Fighting Illini Minnesota Golden Gophers Offense Philip Nelson

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