College Football 2011: 6 Worst-Case Scenarios for the Minnesota Golden Gophers
The Minnesota Golden Gophers are approaching an important season that could shift momentum for the program.
Minnesota has finally escaped the wrath of Tim Brewster, and they will officially begin the Jerry Kill era this season.
If Kill struggles this year, it could cause even more unrest in an already volatile community.
Let's take a look at six worst-case scenarios for the Gophers in 2011.
6. The Immaturity Continues
During the Tim Brewster era, people on the outside looking in felt that he had lost touch with the players.
The team could be found eating poorly around campus almost daily, and they did not look like a motivated squad on the field.
This was definitely not a team that wanted to win for their coach. In fact, at times it seemed like they were trying to play poorly to push the coach out of town.
It was extremely immature behavior, but a big chunk of the blame should be placed on Brewster.
Still, new head coach Jerry Kill has the opportunity to change the culture, and it seems as if he is trying mightily.
If the team continues to act the way they did under Brewster, it will be an ugly and familiar sight for fans on gamedays.
5. Failure to Improve the Pass Rush
Last season, the Gophers failed have any sort of legitimate pass rush.
The entire team accumulated just nine sacks on the season.
New head coach Jerry Kill has emphasized speed in early practices. He wants his defensive ends to be able to get up the field and test the opposing offensive line.
The Gophers need a pass rush this season.
If they fail to establish one, the defense will allow big play after big play like last year.
4. A Blowout Loss Against Southern California
The Golden Gophers football program is in fairly good spirits right now.
Fans took a sigh of relief when Tim Brewster was relieved of his duties, and Jerry Kill has only improved the outlook for this team.
Minnesota needs a good start to the 2011 season. All eyes will be on Kill's Gophers in Southern California for the opener.
If Minnesota fails to even compete with the Trojans, they will lose all momentum that Kill created. Questions will begin to hastily circulate Kill's credibility, and the team will likely continue to struggle with the media criticism as the season wears on.
A blowout loss to USC would show that Kill still has a long way to go in getting the program to where he wants it to be.
3. Jerry Kill Falls out of Favor
Jerry Kill is entering a program that is surrounded by volatile fans.
Tim Brewster lost the fans by hyping up his team too much, creating unreal expectations, and making excuses when he didn't meet them.
Kill has made a good first impression thus far. He needs to build on it by putting a competitive team on field on gameday.
If he gets off to a slow start, and fans begin calling for his head prematurely, Kill could be in for a dreadful couple of years.
2. MarQueis Gray Underperforms
MarQueis Gray finally has the keys to the Gophers offense, and his performance will determine the level of success for this team.
Gray is one of the bigger recruits this program has attracted over the past few years.
He has spent sporadic time in his first two years at quarterback, but has mostly featured as a wide receiver.
Now that he will be taking over as the face of the program, he needs to perform up to expectations.
If Gray struggles throughout the season, it will mean that the offense will struggle to put up points.
1. A Loss to North Dakota State
Tim Brewster's time as the head coach of the Minnesota Golden Gophers was rocky to say the least.
One of the reasons he was so highly criticized was his team's performances against clearly lesser opponents.
In 2007, they lost to North Dakota State 27-21.
In 2008, they barely beat South Dakota State in an ugly game, 16-13.
In 2010, they lost to South Dakota 41-38.
This year, Jerry Kill will have his chance to redeem the program's 2007 loss to North Dakota State.
A loss against the Bison would bring back nightmares of the Brewster era.
Kill needs to avoid this by blasting through the inferior Bison.