2019 Minnesota Gophers Preview

Being a Gophers fan is always tough. Most of the time the best we can do is somewhere around the #22-25 range in the AP poll. This year does not look any different. Looking on the bright side, here are my predictions for stand out players in 2019 

QB battle: Tanner Morgan and Zach Annextad 

2018 Stats 

Tanner Morgan: 58% completion percentage, 1,401 yards, 9 TDs  

Zach Annextad: 51% completion percentage, 1,277 yards, 9TDs

Gopher head coach P.J. Fleck reported that toward the end of practice on August 2nd, Zack Annextad dropped back to pass and felt a pop in his foot. It was a non-contact injury. The Gophers are not sure when they can expect his return but for now, they can rely on Tanner Morgan. Last season, Morgan threw for 1,400 yards and 9TDs. Annextad also had 9 TDs and threw for 1,277 yards in 2018.

Wideouts: Rashod Bateman and Tyler Johnson 

2018 stats 

Tyler Johnson: 78 receptions, 1,169 receiving yards 12 TDs

Rashod Bateman: 51 receptions, 704 receiving yards, 6 TDs

Both Tyler Johnson and Rashod Bateman were fun to watch last year. It seemed like whenever Morgan or Annexstad dropped back, both those guys had a chance for a big play. 2019 should be no different with the same offensive core as last year. Both of these guys will be tough to cover due to their speed and catching ability.

Running backs: Mohammed Ibrahim, Shannon Brooks, and Rodney Smith 

2018 stats 

Mohammed Ibrahim: 202 touches, 1,160 yards 

Shannon Brooks: 22 touches, 154 yards

Rodney Smith 25 touches, 154 yards

Redshirt Freshman Mohammed Ibrahim was the star back after Brooks was injured in 2018. He averaged 110 yards a game totaling 1,160 yards on the season. If he performs well in practice then Minnesota is going to turn into a running back by committee type of team 

In November of 2018, Shannon Brooks rushed 22 times for 154 yards and a touchdown before injuring his right knee while making a cut late in the game. In 2018, he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during a workout shortly before spring practice.

Rodney Smith also injured his knee in a win over Fresno State. He ran for 154 yards and was out for the rest of the season. Smith and Brooks are my hopefuls going into the 2019 season. Turning the Gophers into a running back by committee team could serve them well this year. 

Defense: 

2018 stats 

Connor Coughlin had 9.5 sacks last season, just a half-sack behind the #9 projected guy going into 2019 Chase Young from Ohio State. Coughlin is a monster on defense and teams are going to be scouting to try and stop him. 

Antione Winfield Jr is my favorite Gopher going into 2019, and I truly believe that he is going to have a big year. The stats don’t show it but he is one of the most dominant defensive players on the team. The only potential downside he has is his inability to come up with the ball. Last season, he only had one interception.

For more college football analysis follow @Pwan2020 and discuss at our sports forums.

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