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GUEST POST: A look at Minnesota

Charlie from Paging Jim Shikenjanski has offered his analysis of the 2007 Golden Gopher squad we face on Saturday night in the Metrodome. He echoes the sentiments of many of their fans that they are resigned to the fate of a serious rebuilding year, but there is enough pop to make a game of it if we're not totally focused. Welcome Charlie, and thanks!

Minnesota fans entered the 2007 season with high expectations. New coach Tim Brewster came in talking a big game. But after losses to Bowling Green and Florida Atlantic, our new coach has seen many of the same fans cheering his arrival have begun to question his coaching ability.

This week against Purdue, Minnesota fans are expecting more of the same. That is, we're expecting our defense to get scorched. If Florida Atlantic rolled up huge numbers, should we expect anything less from Purdue? Anyway, considering you probably haven't watched too many Gophers games, here's what to expect from the Gophers.

Quarterback: Redshirt freshman Adam Weber has shown glimpses of potential and immaturity. He was named co-Big Ten offensive player of the week in Week 2. But last week he threw 4 interceptions. He's a dual-threat type of quarterback and has run with surprising power through three weeks. The Gophers have abandonded the power running game of the Glen Mason era for the spread offense. While the running game has been OK through three weeks, the coaching staff has abandonded it too much. When the Gophers run, it's out of the shotgun. The spread offense has forced Weber to pass too much as he's maturing in the position. Be happy, Purdue fans, if the Gophers come out throwing.

Running Backs: Amir Pinnix is a bonafide Big Ten running back. His shouldn't be a new name for Big Ten fans, but the Gophers unfortunately aren't using the shove-it-down-your-throat offense that would have led to bigger numbers from Pinnix. When the Gophers run the ball from the spread, Pinnix is still a force to be recokoned with.

Wide Receivers: Senior Ernie Wheelright was supposed to be the go-to guy coming into the season. He's flashed brilliance and futility in his tenure as a wideout in Minny. But so far, he's been outplayed by sophomore Eric Decker. They are joined by a bunch of youngsters who haven't really asserted themselves yet. Mike Chambers is the only other non-freshman in our receiving corps, and he played cornerback in week one. Freshman Tray Herndon has flashed potential. But our depth at wideout is far too slim for the spread offense to be effective.

Defense: Generally, the Minnesota defense is a sieve. Our secondary is filled with true freshman. We lost standout Dominic Jones at the beginning of the year when he was alleged to have committed a sex crime that he allegedly videotaped. Genius, I know. So, the Gophers secondary is a work-in-progress and has been embarrassed when teams have spread the ball and exploited the secondary.

Minnesota's defensive line was poised to be the defense's strength. But standout Willie VanDeSteeg, and his comrades on the line, have failed to put enough pressure on the quarterback to take the pressure off the young secondary. When the Minnesota defense has put pressure on the quarterback, it has come via the blitz. But, the Minnesota coaches have now went to more base coverages, because the blitzes weren't getting to the quarterback in time and the secondary was further exposed.

Special Teams: The Minnesota kick and punt coverage has been good. But our return game has caused many Gophers fans to close their eyes. True freshman Harold Howell is returning kicks, and while he has loads of athleticism and potential, he's put the ball on the ground on numerous occasions. He could break an 80-yard touchdown or fumble twice. He's scary in more ways than one.

Prediction: A poll on my Web site indicates that many Gopher fans believe Purdue can put up 70+ points on the Gophers. That might be a stretch, but there is no reason to believe the Boilermakers can't put up 50+. The Minnesota offense can hold its own for awhile, but a shootout will put too much pressure on Weber. Pick: Purdue 56, Minnesota 31.