No reception: Gopher passing game lacking, changes to come

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The Minnesota football Gophers have had no problem racking up the yards and the points in its first two wins of the 2013 season, but something's missing - namely a passing attack.

But the team hopes to change that, and with the wideouts they have, well ... they need some catches.

As the Pioneer Press puts it, Gophers senior wide receiver Derrick Engel needed a play like his 48-yard catch in Saturday’s win at New Mexico State to get his confidence back.

After expecting to be one of the leading targets for sophomore quarterback Philip Nelson entering this season, Engel had no catches in the season opening win against Nevada-Las Vegas. That snapped a streak of five straight games with a catch that dated back to last season, including the four-catch, 108-yard performance in the bowl game against Texas Tech.

What gives? Well, some have speculated that sophomore quarterback Philip Nelson runs too much - he leads all Big Ten QBs in rushing yards.

And, as the Minnesota Daily points out, in the span of 10 months, the Gophers football team has lost three of its top receivers, all for different reasons.

There was A.J. Barker’s scathing letter to head coach Jerry Kill last November, announcing he was leaving the team midseason.

Then in July, Devin Crawford-Tufts left the program in favor of track and field. And last week, Kill announced Andre McDonald would not play for the Gophers this season after violating team rules.

So the team is trying to develop some young receivers, including Engel.

Check this stat: No one on the team has more than three catches this season.

Or maybe they just have butterfingers: ESPN's Big Ten Blog reports that before the Gophers headed out to the practice field on Tuesday, Kill wrote out on a dry-erase board several areas that needed to get better. Near the top of that list: dropped passes.

Just a month ago, the Star Tribune noted that while the Gopher receivers are shot on stats, they're "long on confidence."

But confidence alone can't get you in the end zone.

So, what's the plan coach? "We've got to cut down on some of the dropped balls and make some plays," Kill tells ESPN. "We have people capable of doing that, and I think we'll see much improvement there as the year goes on."

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