Strength Vs. Strength In Meineke Car Care Bowl

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Go Gophers! Michael Carter
Go Gophers!
Michael Carter has two interceptions and 14 pass breakups this year.
Go Gophers!
The Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas should feature strength versus strength, when the Minnesota pass defense does battle against the potent air attack of Texas Tech.

Minnesota has allowed only one 300-yard passer this year (Nebraska's Taylor Martinez passed for 308 yards on Nov. 17) and ranks 11th in the nation in pass defense (178.50 yards per game). The Gophers are 20th nationally in pass efficiency defense at 111.95 and 29th in total defense, allowing 352.75 yards per game.

The Red Raiders rank second in the nation in passing (361.92 yards-per-game), 12th in total offense (501.42 yards-per-game) and 16th in scoring (37.73 points-per-game). Their offense is led by senior quarterback Seth Doege, who ranks fourth in the nation in passing (3,934 yards) and second in touchdowns (38). Doege has passed for more than 300 yards in nine games this year. Darrin Moore and Eric Ward provide Doege with sure-handed targets. Moore has caught 81 passes for 948 yards and 13 touchdowns, while Ward has 75 catches for 974 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Senior cornerbacks Michael Carter and Troy Stoudermire are sure to see a lot of Moore and Ward in Houston. Carter has 14 pass breakups, which places him tied for fourth all-time in one season in program history with Traye Simmons (2008). He is four breakups shy of school single-season record-holder Willie Middlebrooks, who had 18 in 1999.

Carter should get plenty of opportunities to increase his season total in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas, as Texas Tech passes the ball an average of 45 times a game (they have completed more passes than their opponents have attempted this year).

Earlier this season, Carter tied a Minnesota single-game record (Michael Lehan vs. Michigan State on Oct. 19, 2001) when he had six pass breakups against Purdue. Carter also has two interceptions this year, which includes an interception return for a touchdown against the Boilermakers.

Stoudermire has broken up three passes this year, has 3.5 tackles-for-loss and leads the team in tackles (78) and solo tackles (56).

Gopher Ground Game Will Be Key In Texas

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Go Gophers! Donnell Kirkwood
Go Gophers!
Donnell Kirkwood has rushed for 849 yards this year, which includes three 100-yard rushing games.
Go Gophers!
The Gophers will participate in their 15th bowl game when they play Texas Tech in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas on Dec. 28. Minnesota has had a 100-yard rusher in seven of its previous 14 bowl games. The Gophers have had eight 100-yard rushers in bowl history, as both Marion Barber III and Laurence Maroney topped 100 yards in a win against Alabama in the 2004 Music City Bowl.

Tellis Redmond owns the school record for rushing in a bowl game, as he rumbled for 246 yards against N.C. State in the 2000 MicronPC Bowl.

Coach Jerry Kill has said numerous times that he wants to have a team that can establish the run, so fans should keep an eye on Donnell Kirkwood and Rodrick Williams on Dec. 28.

Kirkwood has carried the ball 199 times this year for 849 yards. He has three 100-yard games this season and also added 99 yards against Syracuse. The Gophers are 4-0 in those games and 6-1 when he rushes for more than 70 yards (rushed for 73 yards in 21-13 loss vs. Northwestern). Kirkwood is the first Gopher running back to rush for more than 800 yards in a season since Amir Pinnix did so in 2006.

Williams made his collegiate debut against Northwestern and has played in the final seven games of the season. The true freshman has rushed for 201 yards on 45 carries and Minnesota is 2-0 when he rushes for more than 40 yards.

Another Gopher who is sure to have the ball in his hands in Houston is wide receiver/quarterback MarQueis Gray. The senior has five career 100-yard rushing games and Minnesota is 3-2 when Gray hits the century mark.

Most Yards Rushed For By A Gopher In A Bowl Game
246 Tellis Redmond vs. N.C. State (2000 MicronPC)
187 Marion Barber III vs. Alabama (2004 Music City)
179 Amir Pinnix vs. Texas Tech (2006 Insight)
136 Darrell Thompson vs. Tennessee (1986 Liberty)
131 Laurence Maroney vs. Oregon (2003 Sun)
109 Laurence Maroney vs. Virginia (2005 Music City)
105 Laurence Maroney vs. Alabama (2004 Music City)
100 Thomas Tapeh vs. Arkansas (2002 Music City)

Know Thy Opponent: Michigan State

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Minnesota welcomes Michigan State to TCF Bank Stadium tomorrow, so we turned to Brian Calloway of the Lansing State Journal to learn more about the Spartans. You can follow Brian on Twitter at @brian_calloway.

GopherSports: Brian, thanks for taking the time to speak with us. Can you give us a brief scouting report on the Spartans?

Brian Calloway: Michigan State's offense has had its share of struggles throughout the season as its struggled to get the ball in the end zone. Injuries on the offensive line and to tight end Dion Sims have hampered the unit at times as well. MSU was unable to come away with points when inside the 5-yard line on two different occasions last week against Northwestern. Le'Veon Bell is the main guy on offense and has six games with more than 100 rushing yards and ranks seventh in school history in rushing yards. First-year starting quarterback Andrew Maxwell has done well spreading the ball to multiple receivers with Keith Mumphery, Bennie Fowler, Tony Lippett and Sims each with more than 30 catches. Defensively, junior middle linebacker Max Bullough is the heart and sole and has made many big plays this season. Junior defensive end William Gholston is very talented and has come on here of late. The defense is just as dominant as it was last year but has struggled to force turnovers, which plays into the disappointing season.

GS: The Spartans need to win to become bowl eligible. Is there a sense of determination this week to get that sixth win or is there a different feeling surrounding the team, given its high preseason expectations?

BC: There is very much a sense of determination for the Spartans to get bowl eligible and the wheels haven't fallen off despite the lofty preseason expectations. This group has stayed together and many have taken the approach of this being like a playoff game to keep their season alive. MSU coach Mark Dantonio said during his weekly press conference 'when we win this game' as a way of trying to instill confidence in his team, which has had several disappointing losses here this season (five Big Ten losses by total of 13 points). But there is determination there to get to a bowl and get the extra practices and Dantonio called Saturday's contest a 'program game.'

GS: You mentioned Le'Veon Bell earlier. He leads the nation in rushing attempts and is one of the best backs in the country. What is the key to slowing him down, or isn't there one?

BC: The key to slowing Bell is forcing him to run east-west instead of north-south. He doesn't necessarily have the speed to get around the edge when running to the side. That would be the biggest key.

GS: Who is an under-the-radar player for the Spartans this year? A player who Gopher fans may not be familiar with but should keep an on on Saturday?

BC: Most of the talk about the Spartan defense centers around the success of the linebackers and Gholston, but junior safety Isaiah Lewis  has been a strong component of the secondary. He led the team with nine tackles against Northwestern and is tied for second on the team with 72 tackles. Offensively that person is probably Mumphery, who has quietly become the most consistent receiver and leads the team with 40 catches for 506 yards.

GS: Can you finish this sentence for us? Michigan State will win if....

BC: Michigan State will win if its able to force turnovers and find a way to finish drives with touchdowns instead of relying on what's been an inconsistent kicking game this season.

GS: Brian, thanks for your time. We certainly appreciate it.

Game 12 Depth Chart, Injury Report

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OFFENSE
Left Tackle

58 - Ed Olson     6-7    312    R-Jr.     Mahtomedi, Minn. (Mahtomedi)
74 - Marek Lenkiewicz    6-5    281    R-So.    Tinley Park, Ill. (Victor J. Andrew)
Left Guard
53 - Tommy Olson    6-4    298    So.     Mahtomedi, Minn. (Mahtomedi)
75 - Ernie Heifort     6-5    273    R-Fr.     Bemidji, Minn. (Bemidji)
Center
52 - Zac Epping    6-2    306    R-So.     Kenosha, Wis. (Tremper)
63 - Jon Christenson    6-4    288    R-Fr.     Minnetonka, Minn. (Minnetonka)
Right Guard
64 - Caleb Bak    6-3    294    R-So.     Columbia Heights, Minn. (Concordia Academy)
73 - Joe Bjorklund    6-5    293    R-Fr.     Rosemount, Minn. (Rosemount)
Right Tackle
65 - Josh Campion    6-5    309    R-Fr.     Fergus Falls, Minn. (Fork Union Military Academy)
77 - Foster Bush    6-5    303    R-Fr.     Menasha, Wis. (Menasha HS)
Quarterback
9 - Philip Nelson    6-2    222    Fr.     Mankato, Minn. (West)
11 - Max Shortell     6-6    237    So.     Shawnee Mission, Kan. (Bishop Miege)
Tailback
20 - Donnell Kirkwood    5-10    219    R-So.     Delray Beach, Fla. (Atlantic)
35 - Rodrick Williams Jr.     5-11    228    Fr.    Lewisville, Texas (Lewisville)
H-Back/Fullback
81 - John Rabe    6-4    258    Sr.     Iowa Falls, Iowa (Ellsworth CC)
30 - Mike Henry    6-1    238    R-Jr.     Mahtomedi, Minn. (Mahtomedi)
Y
85 - Lincoln Plsek     6-4    245    Fr.     Waco, Texas (Reicher HS)
47 - Alex Bisch     6-6    249    R-So.     Northfield, Minn. (Northfield HS)
Z
14 - Isaac Fruechte     6-3    205    So.     Caledonia, Minn. (Rochester CTC)
1 - Brandon Green    6-0    189    R-Sr.     Chicago, Ill. (Robeson)
X
5 - MarQueis Gray    6-5    250    Sr.    Indianapolis, Ind. (Ben Davis)
80 - Devin Crawford-Tufts    6-2    194    So.     Edina, Minn. (Edina)
OR
12 - Andre McDonald    6-2    200    Fr.     Minnetonka, Minn. (Hopkins)
H
18 - Derrick Engel      6-2    182    R-Jr.     Chaska, Minn. (Winona State)
84 - Victor Keise      6-1    188    R-Jr.     Coral Springs, Fla. (North Broward Prep)

DEFENSE
End

98 - Michael Amaefula    6-2    242    So.    Arlington, Texas (Bowie)
93 - Ben Perry    6-5    243    R-So.    Southlake, Texas (Carroll)
Tackle
46 - Cameron Botticelli    6-5    284    R-So.    Milwaukee, Wis. (Marquette University HS)
94 - Harold Legania    6-4    306    R-So.     New Orleans, La. (Edna Karr HS)
Nose
99 - Ra'Shede Hageman    6-6    301    R-Jr.    Minneapolis, Minn. (Washburn)
97 - Scott Ekpe    6-4    286    Fr.    Lewisville, Texas (Lewisville)
End
95 - D.L. Wilhite    6-3    244    Sr.    Lexington, Ky. (Bryan Station)
55 - Theiren Cockran    6-6    237    R-Fr.    Homestead, Fla. (Homestead)
Strongside Linebacker
57 - Aaron Hill    6-2    228    R-Jr.    St. Charles, Mo. (Lutheran)
8 - Spencer Reeves    6-2    234    Sr.    Dallas, Texas (Skyline)
Middle Linebacker
26 - Mike Rallis    6-2    245    R-Sr.    Edina, Minn. (Edina)
43 - Ryan Grant     6-2    226    R-Sr.    Eden Prairie, Minn. (Eden Prairie)
Weakside Linebacker
4 - Keanon Cooper    6-0    220    R-Sr.    Dallas, Texas (Skyline)
9 - James Manuel     6-2    210    Jr.    Indianapolis, Ind. (Warren Central)
Cornerback
2 - Troy Stoudermire    5-10    195    Sr.    Dallas, Texas (Skyline)
22 - Jeremy Baltazar    6-0    196    Jr.    Corona, Calif. (Blinn College)
Safety
13 - Derrick Wells    6-0    198    So.    Lehigh Acres, Fla. (Lehigh)
7 - Damarius Travis    6-2    205    Fr.     Pensacola, Fla. (Pensacola)
Safety
27 - Cedric Thompson    5-10    199    So.    Calipatria, Calif. (Calipatria)
OR
21 - Brock Vereen    6-0    201    Jr.    Valencia, Calif. (Valencia)
6 - Grayson Levine    5-11    202    So.    Eden Prairie, Minn. (Eden Prairie)
Cornerback
23 - Michael Carter    5-11    189    Sr.    Pompano Beach, Fla. (Ely)
3 - Martez Shabazz     5-11    168    Jr.    DeSoto, Texas (Trinity Valley CC)

SPECIAL TEAMS
Kicker
39 - Jordan Wettstein    5-11    180    Sr.    De Pere, Wis. (De Pere)
36 - Chris Hawthorne    6-6    198    Jr.    Raleigh, N.C. (North Carolina State)
Punter
38 - Christian Eldred    6-3    190    So.    Melbourne, Australia (Monash University)
Long Snapper
48 - Jake Filkins    6-2    236    Jr.    Prescott, Wis. (Prescott)
96 - Dave Ramlet    6-2    237    R-So.    Appleton, Wis. (Xavier)
Holder
38 - David Schwerman    6-0    195    Sr.    Kettle Moraine, Wis. (Kettle Moraine)
Kick Returner
2 - Troy Stoudermire    5-10    195    Sr.    Dallas, Texas (Skyline)
15 - Marcus Jones    5-8    172    So.    Wake Forest, N.C. (Wake Forest-Rolesville)
4 - KJ Maye    5-10    190    Fr.    Mobile, Ala. (Murphy)
Punt Returner
23 - Michael Carter    5-11    189    Sr.    Pompano Beach, Fla. (Ely)

INJURY REPORT
Roland Johnson - Out
Marcus Jones - Out
Brendan Beal - Out
Drew Goodger - Out
John Christenson - Questionable
Marek Lenkiewicz - Questionable


Gophers Recall Favorite Thanksgiving Memories

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On behalf of everyone at Gopher Football, we hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. We spoke with a few Gophers and asked them what their favorite Thanksgiving memory is.

Brock Vereen - "We would always have a Turkey Bowl and it would start off as flag football but would always escalate to a little bit more."

Harold Legania - "Being with my family and eating wonderful food."

Troy Stoudermire - "Being home with my family eating dinner. I had a chance to eat a lot of Thanksgiving dinners with my family so whenever I get a chance to go back it's a good time."

Max Shortell - "Getting ready to play in the State Championship Game that we won pretty easily."

Kyle McAvoy - "Probably how welcoming the guys around here were. I didn't get a chance to go home so a lot of the guys invited me over to their place and I got a chance to eat with them and some of their families."

Caleb Bak - "Probably would have to be the mashed potatoes."

Victor Keise - "Honey glazed ham by my mom. It's been a while since I got to go home though."

Jeremy Baltazar - "My favorite memory is probably just my family and all my cousins just laughing and stuff before we eat."

Theiren Cockran - "Probably a couple of years ago having all of my family over and just sitting at the table, giving thanks for what we have, and eating some of that delicious food from the south."

Under The Helmet with Devin Crawford-Tufts

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GopherSports: Devin, when did you know you wanted to be a Gopher?

Devin Crawford-Tufts: I really did not get any attention from the Gophers until I was going into my senior year at Edina. I went to Minnesota's three-day camp and looked at the facilities - the weight room, the indoor facility and the stadium - and then I kind of knew then that I wanted to come here. I grew up in Minneapolis and have been around this area. It is beautiful and I love it.

GS: You mentioned TCF Bank Stadium. What makes it so special?

DCT: This year, I have noticed that our fans are two or three times louder than they had ever been before. It is good to know we have support from our community, and we try to go out and help the community as well too.

GS: Did you come to Minnesota games growing up

DCT: I never got to go to any games growing up, but I watched them on TV all the time. Once I got my first TV in my room, I watched their games like it was my job. I tried to get my dad or mom to take me every so often, but it never happened. But I did watch the games.

GS: How did you get into football?

DCT: When I was younger, I watched it on TV a lot. I used to go to middle school in Eden Prairie. They had fourth-grade tryouts and my parents asked if I wanted to play football. I said, "Sure, I guess." So I went and tried out and became an offensive lineman my first year. I loved it. Even though I really did not get to touch the ball, I have loved it ever since.

GS: You started as an offensive lineman, but now are a speedy receiver. Take us through that position change.  

DCT: My first year I played offensive lineman. Then I played quarterback, running back and middle linebacker for six or seven years. Then I went to Edina and started playing receiver and have played that ever since.

GS: You were an accomplished tack star in high school as well. Did you think about doing both sports in college?

DCT: It was definitely something I thought about. When I was being recruited they knew that I ran track and knew it was something that I might be interested in. We talked about it and then coach Kill came in and he said the same thing and was open about it. But when I got here, things just happened and football became my No. 1 sport and this is my focus right now.

GS: How does your track background help you in football?

DCT: It helps a lot actually to have that running form and being able to get out of breaks. I am able to bust out of breaks and have that explosive speed that sprinters have, just like Marcus Jones and Derrick Engel have as well. It helps when I have an angle and I know that all I have to do is get by my man and I will be gone.

GS: There is a lot of fast guys on this team, but who do you think is the fastest?

DCT: I honestly could not tell you. We have never raced more than 10 or 15 yards, so we have never really gotten a good estimate of who is the fastest. I would say that I am pretty close up there though.

GS: We know you do not have a lot of free time, but what do you like to do away from the football field?

DCT: School and football. That is basically my life right now, school and football. That is how I want it right now. It is a lot of work, but I love it. But I still try to get out and do things around my community and around Minneapolis. I actually take trips around campus and drive downtown on my moped. I like to look at the different building and architecture. I go on walks around campus and go to Coffman Memorial Union a lot because they have a lot of stuff going on over there, like the bowling alley and everything else. I am always looking for new stuff to find that is close to campus. My mom and my dad know a lot of stuff around here too and know the good restaurants, so they always take me. There is always fun stuff to do around here.

GS: You also said you like to give back to the community. What are some of the things you have done?

DCT: Last winter, I spent a lot of time volunteering at Second Harvest. I enjoy helping package and ship food out to different homeless shelters around Minneapolis and around the Midwest. As a team, we have also volunteered at Kids Against Hunger.

GS: You and a number of your teammates shaved your heads recently in support of teammate Connor Cosgrove who is battling leukemia. Was that an easy decision?

DCT: Yes. Everyone knows about Connor Cosgrove and what he is going through. We are all family here and I consider him to be my brother. He is going through something and needs help with it, so that is what we are trying to do and that is what we did by shaving our heads.

GS: What are your long-term goals?

DCT: The dream is definitely to be a professional ballplayer, but I have not sat down and thought about life after football yet. I have not declared a major yet, but I have begun to look around and try to figure out what I want to do with my life. That is what is so great about playing football, as it helps me figure out what I am interested in. I get to talk to different people who have different backgrounds and see what they are doing and see how they have progressed from freshman to senior year and how things worked out for them. It gives me a good way to look up to other people and see how they went through everything. 

Kill Previews Saturday's Game Against Michigan State

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Coach Kill met with the media today to preview this weekend's game against Michigan State. You can read a few of the highlights from his press conference below.

About playing Michigan State...
We gotta make sure that our guys are feeling good, and we're going to have to be ready for a physical football game. That's who they are. They're physical on defense. They're physical on offense. A lot of people say -- this is an important game because it gets them bowl eligible. But they haven't slipped any. They've just been in a heck of a lot of close games and played a lot of good people. They're still Michigan State.

About Michigan State's defense...
You just gotta do a good job up front. You gotta get a body on a body and you gotta make good reads at quarterback and you gotta be able to make some plays. Look back on the game on Saturday, we had chances to make plays. We had guys open. We had shots. We just didn't make plays, and I think against Michigan State is the same scenario.

There's no room for error. I said that all year, and through some of the injuries we've had there's really no room for error. We've gotta fight our tail end off. But our kids have done that. They have done that. They really have. I have no complaints. I think they've played hard all year. I think we're getting everything we can get out of them.

About his team this week...

As a head coach I always take responsibilities for wins and losses, and I think our team was fatigued going into Lincoln a little bit through the long stretch we've had. So we've gotta make sure they've got their legs and their feet and psychologically, so we'll look at practice and make it a little bit shorter, more crisp, be careful on the physicality and the contact of what we do and make sure they feel good on Saturday.

About Roland Johnson...
Roland has got a leg injury and he's out. He's got an ACL injury. Going to get an MRI and he got hurt in the walk through. So that tells you how tough a situation you have. You get hurt in walk through, tear a knee up in walk through it's not a good day, not a good week. 

About Brendan Beal and his potential knee injury...
I talked with him after the game. I sat down and we sat there, and I put my arm around him, and we talked when people left the locker room, we just sat in there and visited. And I shared, I said Jiminy Christmas, I feel bad for you. I said, I wish I could give you my knee, but mine aren't any good either. We just talked and visited and tried to, I don't know, comfort each other or whatever you want to say.  

About John Gagliardi retiring...
He's a funny man. I got a chance, I was at the national convention, I don't know how long ago it was 10 or 11 years ago. And I was fortunate enough to get an honor and he got an honor also. He got up and spoke and they asked him about retirement at that time. He goes, 'I don't know what I'd do if I retired and I don't think I'll ever retire.' He says, 'There's only two things I don't like about the game. I don't get to control injuries and officials.' And everybody started laughing. And that was the end of his speech.

About the team this week amid potential distractions...
All those seniors, they want to concentrate on playing and playing football and concentrate on the guys that are here. And it's a great group of kids. And they've been great to me. And I think that's where we -- again, players leave programs. And things happen.  And I said publicly, I feel bad about it. I really do.
   
But I'm responsible for 115 kids and I gotta put the focus on those kids that are here. I owe it to those kids that want to be here and gone through it. There's a lot of them that have gone through a whole lot, so that's where my focus is going to be.

On why some players stick with football even though they do not play much...
I think people like to be a part of something. And a lot of people don't get to. It's like people get a chance to join fraternities. People get a chance to join the choir. They get a chance to be in drama and so forth. Some kids just want the opportunity to be a part of a football program. I would tell you this, from my standpoint, if I'd had the opportunity to be able to put a uniform on at Minnesota, where I came from, it would have been a big deal. Even if I played one play, or two. It would have been a big opportunity and a big deal to me, because I love the game and love being around the game.  

Know Thy Opponent: Nebraska

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Minnesota plays at Nebraska this afternoon, so we chatted with Mike Jaixen of CornNation.com to learn more about the Huskers and their high-powered offense.

GopherSports: Mike, thanks for taking the time to speak with us. Can you give us a brief scouting report on Nebraska?

Mike Jaixen: Nebraska's offense is perhaps it's most explosive in many years. The Huskers are proficient in both running and passing. Taylor Martinez has refined his passing fundamentals and it's really made a difference...as has the experience of being a three year starter. He's always had the ability to make plays with his feet, but now he knows what he's doing in managing the offense and finding his receivers. The biggest issue the offense has is turnovers; Martinez has such confidence in his throws that he sometimes forces the ball into coverage, and when he's running the ball, he's been known to lose the grasp of the football. Nebraska's corp of receivers might be the most dynamic in school history; sophomore Kenny Bell has speed and great hands while fellow sophomore Jamal Turner is elusive. Don't forget about the tight ends; senior Kyler Reed runs like a wide receiver and senior Ben Cotton has sure hands. Ameer Abdullah is a durable fast running back who also has surprising power inside.

Defensively, the secondary has been playing well as of late. If Nebraska is vulnerable to anything, it's with the running game, especially with a mobile quarterback complimenting a good running back.

GS: It is Senior Day at Nebraska and this is the first time that Minnesota has played in Lincoln for a long time. What will the atmosphere be like today? 

MJ: The "Senior Day" activities will likely occur well before kickoff. The atmosphere should be similar to Madison, Columbus, or State College. It's a big crowd, but B1G teams should be used to B1G crowds. The fans can be loud, but we're typically respectful. Fans who come to Lincoln should try to be in their seats at least seven minutes before kickoff; Nebraska's best tradition is the "Tunnel Walk", which choreographs the Huskers path from the locker room to the field. More than 80,000 Nebraska fans clapping in rhythm can be quite impressive.

GS: What is your feeling on Rex Burkhead? Will we see him today?

MJ: I get the feeling he MIGHT play. Ameer Abdullah has been more than serviceable playing in his place, so I hope he doesn't rush things. (He's reinjured himself twice, so that's why I err on the side of caution.) Burkhead does a couple of things if he's able to play.  He's able to take snaps in the Wildcat, so he opens up all sorts of extra options in the offense. The biggest is a "Diamond" formation where he, Abdullah, and Braylon Heard all line up in an inverted wishbone, with Martinez taking a shotgun snap. Nebraska can run the ball in any direction, and if you bite on the run, a tight end is running free downfield.

GS: Who is an underrated player on Nebraska that Gopher fans should pay attention to today?

MJ: I'll throw out three names. Kenny Bell will probably be up for all-Big Ten honors at receiver, and likely will play in the NFL after his days in Lincoln are over. Great hands and speed. On defense, Eric Martin has become a beast in the pass rush.  And cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste is a converted wide receiver who is very much hit or miss. He's still learning the position and makes mistakes which land him on the bench. But he's big enough to steal the ball from any receiver in coverage.

GS: What is your prediction for today's game?

MJ: Based on past history, Nebraska is going to make some mistakes early on, and the game could be closer than the oddsmakers think (and Husker fans hope). But they've become kings of the comeback, so no lead is safe against Nebraska. So I think this one stays a little closer at halftime, but then Nebraska puts it away late. So let's go with Nebraska 42, Minnesota 20.

GS: Mike, thanks for your time. We appreciate it.

Game 11 Depth Chart, Injury Report

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OFFENSE
Left Tackle

74 - Marek Lenkiewicz    6-5    281    R-So.    Tinley Park, Ill. (Victor J. Andrew)
58 - Ed Olson     6-7    312    R-Jr.     Mahtomedi, Minn. (Mahtomedi)
Left Guard
53 - Tommy Olson    6-4    298    So.     Mahtomedi, Minn. (Mahtomedi)
75 - Ernie Heifort     6-5    273    R-Fr.     Bemidji, Minn. (Bemidji)
Center
52 - Zac Epping    6-2    306    R-So.     Kenosha, Wis. (Tremper)
63 - Jon Christenson    6-4    288    R-Fr.     Minnetonka, Minn. (Minnetonka)
Right Guard
64 - Caleb Bak    6-3    294    R-So.     Columbia Heights, Minn. (Concordia Academy)
73 - Joe Bjorklund    6-5    293    R-Fr.     Rosemount, Minn. (Rosemount)
Right Tackle
65 - Josh Campion    6-5    309    R-Fr.     Fergus Falls, Minn. (Fork Union Military Academy)
77 - Foster Bush    6-5    303    R-Fr.     Menasha, Wis. (Menasha HS)
Quarterback
9 - Philip Nelson    6-2    222    Fr.     Mankato, Minn. (West)
11 - Max Shortell     6-6    237    So.     Shawnee Mission, Kan. (Bishop Miege)
Tailback
20 - Donnell Kirkwood    5-10    219    R-So.     Delray Beach, Fla. (Atlantic)
35 - Rodrick Williams Jr.     5-11    228    Fr.    Lewisville, Texas (Lewisville)
H-Back/Fullback
81 - John Rabe    6-4    258    Sr.     Iowa Falls, Iowa (Ellsworth CC)
30 - Mike Henry    6-1    238    R-Jr.     Mahtomedi, Minn. (Mahtomedi)
Y
83 - Drew Goodger    6-5    255    So.     Shawnee Mission, Kan. (Northwest)
85 - Lincoln Plsek     6-4    245    Fr.     Waco, Texas (Reicher HS)
Z
14 - Isaac Fruechte     6-3    205    So.     Caledonia, Minn. (Rochester CTC)
1 - Brandon Green    6-0    189    R-Sr.     Chicago, Ill. (Robeson)
X
5 - MarQueis Gray    6-5    250    Sr.    Indianapolis, Ind. (Ben Davis)
80 - Devin Crawford-Tufts    6-2    194    So.     Edina, Minn. (Edina)
OR
12 - Andre McDonald    6-2    200    Fr.     Minnetonka, Minn. (Hopkins)
H
15 - Marcus Jones    5-8    172    So.     Wake Forest, N.C. (Wake Forest-Rolesville)
18 - Derrick Engel      6-2    182    R-Jr.     Chaska, Minn. (Winona State)

DEFENSE
End

98 - Michael Amaefula    6-2    242    So.    Arlington, Texas (Bowie)
93 - Ben Perry    6-5    243    R-So.    Southlake, Texas (Carroll)
Tackle
46 - Cameron Botticelli    6-5    284    R-So.    Milwaukee, Wis. (Marquette University HS)
94 - Harold Legania    6-4    306    R-So.     New Orleans, La. (Edna Karr HS)
Nose
99 - Ra'Shede Hageman    6-6    301    R-Jr.    Minneapolis, Minn. (Washburn)
97 - Scott Ekpe    6-4    286    Fr.    Lewisville, Texas (Lewisville)
End
95 - D.L. Wilhite    6-3    244    Sr.    Lexington, Ky. (Bryan Station)
55 - Theiren Cockran    6-6    237    R-Fr.    Homestead, Fla. (Homestead)
Strongside Linebacker
57 - Aaron Hill    6-2    228    R-Jr.    St. Charles, Mo. (Lutheran)
8 - Spencer Reeves    6-2    234    Sr.    Dallas, Texas (Skyline)
Middle Linebacker
26 - Mike Rallis    6-2    245    R-Sr.    Edina, Minn. (Edina)
1 - Brendan Beal    6-3    249    R-Jr.    Bangor, Pa. (Florida)
Weakside Linebacker
4 - Keanon Cooper    6-0    220    R-Sr.    Dallas, Texas (Skyline)
9 - James Manuel     6-2    210    Jr.    Indianapolis, Ind. (Warren Central)
Cornerback
2 - Troy Stoudermire    5-10    195    Sr.    Dallas, Texas (Skyline)
22 - Jeremy Baltazar    6-0    196    Jr.    Corona, Calif. (Blinn College)
Safety
13 - Derrick Wells    6-0    198    So.    Lehigh Acres, Fla. (Lehigh)
7 - Damarius Travis    6-2    205    Fr.     Pensacola, Fla. (Pensacola)
Safety
27 - Cedric Thompson    5-10    199    So.    Calipatria, Calif. (Calipatria)
OR
21 - Brock Vereen    6-0    201    Jr.    Valencia, Calif. (Valencia)
6 - Grayson Levine    5-11    202    So.    Eden Prairie, Minn. (Eden Prairie)
Cornerback
23 - Michael Carter    5-11    189    Sr.    Pompano Beach, Fla. (Ely)
3 - Martez Shabazz     5-11    168    Jr.    DeSoto, Texas (Trinity Valley CC)

SPECIAL TEAMS
Kicker

39 - Jordan Wettstein    5-11    180    Sr.    De Pere, Wis. (De Pere)
36 - Chris Hawthorne    6-6    198    Jr.    Raleigh, N.C. (North Carolina State)
Punter
38 - Christian Eldred    6-3    190    So.    Melbourne, Australia (Monash University)
Long Snapper
48 - Jake Filkins    6-2    236    Jr.    Prescott, Wis. (Prescott)
96 - Dave Ramlet    6-2    237    R-So.    Appleton, Wis. (Xavier)
Holder
38 - David Schwerman    6-0    195    Sr.    Kettle Moraine, Wis. (Kettle Moraine)
Kick Returner
2 - Troy Stoudermire    5-10    195    Sr.    Dallas, Texas (Skyline)
15 - Marcus Jones    5-8    172    So.    Wake Forest, N.C. (Wake Forest-Rolesville)
4 - KJ Maye    5-10    190    Fr.    Mobile, Ala. (Murphy)
Punt Returner
15 - Marcus Jones    5-8    172    So.     Wake Forest, N.C. (Wake Forest-Rolesville)

INJURY REPORT
A.J. Barker, Out
Roland Johnson, Out
Lamonte Edwards, Out
Devon Wright, Questionable
D.L. Wilhite, Questionable
John Christenson, Questionable
Jeremy Baltazar, Questionable


What They're Saying - November 15

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Game 11: Minnesota at Nebraska (GopherSports)

Gophers wanted to make a bowl game for the late Gary Tinsley and his family (ESPN.com)

A moving story about Keanon Cooper and Gary Tinsley (Omaha World Herald)

Official viewing party information for Saturday's game (GopherSports)

Coach Kill's big smile said it all (Omaha World Herald)

Wilhite, Hageman add teeth to defensive line (FSN)

Offensive line has been a revolving door (Star Tribune)

Play a redshirt in a bowl game? It is something coach Kill would like the NCAA to look at (Pioneer Press)

Former Kill QB says there is no greater feeling then turning a program around (Star Tribune)

Huskers going to try to make it a long of third and long for the Gophers (WOWT)

Nebraska is confident heading into Saturday's game (Columbus Telegram)

Patient Kirkwood closing in on 1,000 yards (Pioneer Press)

Scouting the Gophers (Lincoln Journal Star)

Looks like one of the Olsons will be the backup center (Daily Gopher)

Revisiting the Golden Gophers (CornNation.com)

Coach Miller is in the booth and Coach Z is on the sideline (Star Tribune)