Skip to main content

Gophers have major questions about passing game ahead of Ohio State

If Chris Autman-Bell doesn't play, who steps up?
Gophers

How good the Minnesota Gophers are this season is a question that will be partially answered in the season opener Thursday night against the Ohio State Buckeyes. 

The Buckeyes, riding a 22-game conference win streak, enter Huntington Bank Stadium in Minneapolis as prohibitive 14-point favorites over the Gophers, though there is plenty of talk that Minnesota might be getting the Buckeyes at just the right time.

Ohio State is loaded with high-end talent, including starting quarterback C.J. Stroud. But Stroud has never started in college and has yet to attempt a pass in the Big Ten. The former 4-star recruit from California won the starting job after sitting behind Justin Fields (the No. 11 pick to the Bears in the NFL Draft) last season. 

Stroud has incredible talent around him, including arguably the two best receivers in the Big Ten, Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson. That's why it'll be key for the Gophers to control time of possession and keep the Buckeyes' offense off the field. 

With the ball, Ohio State is undoubtedly going to put up explosive plays. But if Minnesota's massive offensive line can help Mohamed Ibrahim dominate on the ground, the Gophers will have a chance. 

The Gophers return five seniors on the offensive line ahead of Ibrahim, who rushed for 1,076 yards and 15 touchdowns in only seven games last season. 

The projected starting line features left tackle Sam Schlueter, left guard Blaise Andries, center John Michael Schmitz, right guard Connor Olson and right tackle Daniel Faalele. It's a massive line weighing an average of more than 330 pounds and all of them are seniors. 

Minnesota's 180 combined starts among offensive linemen is the most in the FBS, so they certainly have the size and experience to control games and time of possession. But doing so against Ohio State will arguably be their most difficult test of the season. 

The Buckeyes' offensive and defensive lines are ranked Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, according to Athlon's preseason rankings. It'll be a war in the trenches, but just as important for the Gophers will the ability to move the ball through the air. 

Quarterback Tanner Morgan saw a massive drop in production in 2020 after a 2019 season had some draft experts raving about him. But long gone are the days that Morgan was throwing the ball to Tyler Johnson and Rashod Bateman. Now he's throwing the ball to a group of receivers that has proven next to nothing. 

Chris Autman-Bell, the most experienced receiver on the team, has been rehabbing a lower leg injury and his status for Thursday's game is unknown. If he's out it'll be a massive blow to the offense. The depth behind him features redshirt sophomore Daniel Jackson and Texas A&M transfer Dylan Wright. 

Jackson had 12 receptions as a freshman and Wright doesn't have a catch to his name in college. Behind those two are Clay Geary, the Lakeville native with six career catches,  Mike Brown-Stephens, the nephew of John Legend who has four career catches, and a trio of freshmen, Douglas Emilien, Lemeke Brockington and Brady Boyd. 

The Gophers just need receivers to step up, and if they do the offense could be quite good this season. 

Thursday's game kicks off just after 7 p.m. and will be televised on FOX. 

Next Up

Hsa Law Yaw Say

Police trying to find woman, 18, who was shot at in St. Paul

Police are looking for help finding the woman.

image

Is an Amazon grocery store coming to Woodbury?

There's six rumored stores in the Twin Cities.

ambulance

Man sentenced to life in prison for 2021 murder of girlfriend

Lacy Jo Krube, 36, was found unresponsive at her St. Paul home, after she'd been beaten in Brooklyn Park.

Richfield High School

New threat prompts closure of Richfield secondary schools

The new threat comes after a shooting outside the Richfield High School football game Friday night.

Screen Shot 2022-09-25 at 6.09.38 PM

Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg to headline Duluth rally

The rally will take place at Leif Erikson Park on Oct. 1.

Screen Shot 2022-09-26 at 6.09.43 AM

Stella's Fish Cafe closes temporarily to investigate viral rodent video

The Uptown restaurant said it was closing temporarily so it could investigate the claims.

Governor Tim Walz

Walz, judge in dispute over Feeding Our Future case

A Ramsey County judge disputed Walz's claims that the Minnesota Department of Education was ordered by the court to resume payments to Feeding Our Future.

ambulance

2 dead, 1 with life-threatening injuries in Hwy. 7 crash

Both drivers were not wearing their seatbelt, according to the State Patrol.

Screen Shot 2022-09-25 at 11.50.33 AM

15-year-old Richfield football game shooting suspect arrested

A 16-year-old accused of instigating the altercation is also in custody.

Police tape

3 arrested after homicide, burglary in Inver Grove Heights

Charges of first-degree murder and first-degree burglary are pending.

fire, firefighter

Woman dies after becoming trapped in Waseca house fire

Police tried to enter the home but heavy smoke prevented them from getting inside.

Related

Mohamedi Ibrahim

Ibrahim injured; Ohio State survives Minnesota with big plays

Ohio State's touchdowns came on plays of 71, 38, 56, 32, 70 and 61 yards.

Gophers pounded by Ohio State in Big Ten opener

The No. 16 Buckeyes dominated from start to finish.

Image from iOS

Marcus Carr scores 35 as Gophers stun No. 3 Ohio State

A huge win for the Gophers, who improved to 5-5 on the season.

Payton Willis and Marcus Carr

Marcus Carr the hero as Gophers win at Ohio State

Carr hit the winning shot with 3.3 seconds to go.

Image from iOS

Gophers reach 9-0 with wire-to-wire win over No. 4 Penn State

Tanner Morgan completed 18-of-20 passes for 339 yards and three touchdowns.

Screen Shot 2019-09-08 at 1.31.57 AM

Double stunner as Gophers rally for double OT win at Fresno State

A crazy finish for the second year in a row between Minnesota and Fresno State.

Screen Shot 2019-11-16 at 6.23.30 PM

Undefeated dreams end as mistakes doom Gophers in Iowa

Iowa scored a touchdown on three straight drives to start the game.