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Varsity Blue

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Pre-season game preview: Minnesota

Expect a long wait before the next preview (MSU), because I am supremely lazy.

September 30

at Minnesota

Offensive Starters Returning: 7 (QB, FB, 2WR, TE, OT, OG)

Defensive Starters Returning: 5 (DE, 2LB, CB, FS)

Specialists Returning: 0

Offense: Minnesota has always been, and will always be, a rushing team. Losing their two top backs (Laurence Maroney to the NFL and Gary Russell to academic purgatory), will hurt them, but not as much as you'd think. Losing three linemen, including super-stud C Greg Eslinger will be more damaging. However, Minnesota's system is what makes their rushing attack so potent. Like the Denver Broncos of the NFL (who, perhaps not coincidentally, run a similar system), the Gophers could put me in the backfield, and I'd still go for 1,000 yards. Brian Cupito is a third-year starter, and underrated. He will be throwing to a potential All-American in TE Matt Spaeth, and a good receiver in Ernie Wheelwright, along with a less-good receiver in Logan Payne.

Defense: Another unit that speaks to last year's offensive ineptitudes for our team. How did we only score 13 points on this defense? They will start 3 new defensive linemen, who will be undersized, and therefore probably weak against the run. This fact isn't helped by the fact that two new linebackers will be stepping in, and should be protected from blockers. This has the potential to be a big ground game for Michigan. The secondary ranked 97th against the pass last year (and we scored HOW many points on this team?!?!?!), and lost their best player, SS John Pawlewski. Don't be surprised if they struggle again. However, I still think it will probably be easier to run than pass on this Gopher team.

Special Teams: They have to replace everyone, down to the return man. With no known commodities slated to step in, this will be a big question mark.

Other: More revenge for us, on the road once more. It's part of a tough schedule stretch for the Wolverines, but the Gophers figure to be down this year. We want our damn jug back, regardless of whether this is a road night game or not (keep in mind that “night” and “road” don't quite carry the same punch in the HHH).

“Pre-season game preview: Minnesota”

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