Gophers Phenom Freshman Darius Taylor Trending Toward Return vs Iowa

NCAA Football: Minnesota at Northwestern
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The Minnesota Gophers have a bye this weekend and it comes at the perfect time. Next Saturday, when the Gophers travel to Iowa City to play the Hawkeyes, their 2023-24 season, along with PJ Fleck’s program, is at a crossroads.

Season on the line for Minnesota Gophers, in Iowa

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Not only is Fleck trying, yet again, for his first win (in 7 tries) ever, vs Kirk Ference & Co, but the Gophers’ season is legitimately on the line. If Minnesota were to win, they’d enter the softest portion of their Big Ten schedule with a 4-3 (2-2) record, coming off one of the biggest wins in PJ Fleck’s tenure. The positive vibes within the program would be more palpable than anything we’ve felt since their 5-0 start in 2022.

But lose, and the PJ Fleck haters are going to come out in droves. With another failure at Kinnick Stadium next weekend, Minnesota would drop to 3-4 (1-3) to start the 2023 season, including a 7th straight loss to Iowa and an indefensible L vs a reeling Northwestern already on their resume.

Darius Taylor, Cody Lindenberg trending toward return vs Hawkeyes

Again, Minnesota vs Iowa won’t happen for another week but we did get a good news update on Thursday, via Darren Wolfson (SKOR North, KSTP), who told “MN Sports w/Mackey & Judd” that phenom freshman running back, Darius Taylor, and upperclassman leader on defense, (LB) Cody Lindenberg, are both trending toward a return to the Gophers active roster against the Hawkeyes.

“Heading into the Iowa game, a week from Saturday… it’s trending towards Cody Lindenberg and Darius Taylor being back, for that game, barring some sort of setback, because Lindenberg should have been back by now — hamstring, tricky injury, setback, right — He wasn’t able to play in that North Carolina game on September 16. But, it looks like it’s trending in the right direction for Lindenberg and Taylor to play on October 21, in Iowa City.”

Darren Wolfson – MN Sports w/Mackey & Judd (SKOR North)

This is big news. Cody Lindenberg came into the 2023 season with NFL aspirations and someone defensive coordinator, Joe Rossi, was hoping he could rely on to lead his defense in multiple statistical categories. Instead, they’ve played 6 games and he hasn’t logged a snap. Lindenberg returning vs Iowa would be a nice jolt for an underperforming defense.

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Gophers offense needs Taylor back

If you’ve had your head out of the Big Ten sand, during the first 6-7 weeks of the college football season, then you know who Darius Taylor is. The game-breaking true freshman, out of Detroit, has won the Big Ten Freshman of the Week award ever week he’s received more than one carry.

Still unimpressed? Taylor has only played in 3 of the Gophers 6 games this season. Yet, his 532 yards on the season still leads the Big Ten and ranks 24th across college football. Redshirt sophomore, Zach Evans, has been pretty good, in Darius’ absence. But when a dude is different, like Darius Taylor is, there’s no replacing that talent.

Since his injury, the Minnesota offense has been absolutely brutal on offense, mostly thanks to an unexpected regression by QB, Athan Kaliakmanis. Through six games, it’s become clear that this Gopher offense will go, yet again, as its running backs do. And without Taylor, their backfield is way too mediocre for that type of responsibility.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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