Projecting the 2020 Gopher Football Depth Chart – Offense

Credit: Jim Rosvold/University of Minnesota

The Minnesota Gophers had one of the most electric offenses in all of college football in 2019. For 2020, PJ Fleck and Co. have lost some of the talent from last season’s record-breaking depth chart, but by-and-large most of the squad is still intact. Let’s dive in!

Quarterback

RolePlayerClass
StarterTanner MorganJr (RS)
— WildcatSeth GreenSr (RS)
DepthZack AnnexstadSo (RS)
Deep DepthJacob ClarkFr (RS)
Cole KramerFr (RS)

For the first time in a long time, the Gophers seem to be in a really good spot at quarterback, heading into the season. You have a potential heisman candidate, in Tanner Morgan at QB1, who put up absolutely stupid stats last season

3,253 Passing Yards + 30 Touchdown Passes + 66% Completion Percentage + 250 Passing Yards per game and….



And he only threw seven interceptions on top of that. That’s pretty damn good, and to have Tanner coming back this year is huge. Depth wise, you have a reliable 2nd stringer in Zack Annexstad, who started half the 2018 season for the Gophers as a true Freshman before getting hurt. Jacob Clark and Cole Kramer will battle for that third spot this upcoming season.

Running Back

RolePlayerClass
StarterMohamed IbrahimJr (RS)
DepthCam WileyFr (RS)
Bryce WilliamsSo (RS)
Treyson PottsFr (RS)
Jason WilliamsonFr (RS)
Ky ThomasFr

Expect a heavy dose of Mo Ibrahim this fall. With Rodney Smith and Shannon Brooks now gone, Mo is expected to carry more of a workhorse load. Some might argue that Ibrahim was the best running back out of the three, last season, and I have a hard time disagreeing.

Mo plays with an edge, that helps him bulldoze and truck right through defenders. He’s not the fastest, and he may not be the biggest (5’10”, 210 lbs) but he is a pain to bring down. He ran the ball 114 times last year for 604 yards (5.3 ypc) and added seven touchdowns to that.



When Brooks and Smith were both out due to injuries in 2018, Ibrahim ran 202 times for 1,160 yards (5.7 ypc) and 9 touchdowns, as a redshirt freshman. He’s a bowling ball once he gets going. As for depth, the Gophers will need at least one more guy to step up and it’s anyone’s job. The guy I’m watching here is Cam Wiley. He’s 6’2″, 210 lbs; and he’s a freakish athlete.

Wide Receiver

RolePlayerClass
StartersRashad BatemanJr
Chris Autman-BellJr (RS)
Doug EmelienFr
DepthSeth GreenSr (RS)
Clay GearySr (RS)
Daniel JacksonFr (RS)
DeepMichael Brown-StephensFr
Nnamdi Adim-MadumereFr (RS)
Peter UdoibokFr (RS)
Jonathan MannFr

This is a group that looked to have a lot of uncertainty, with the loss of Tyler Johnson to the NFL, and with Rashod Bateman initially opting out. Now, Bateman is officially back for the 2020 season, to build on his monster 2019. How good was he last year? He caught 60 balls for 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns while sharing Morgan’s targets with Tyler Johnson.

Chris Autman-Bell has been the #3 wide receiver in Minnesota for the past two seasons. Because he’s sat behind two legitimate NFL receivers, we don’t know yet what his ceiling is. Chris steps into the WR2 role now, after catching 28 passes for 371 yards and five touchdowns in 2019. Expect those numbers to skyrocket in 2020.

True Freshman, Douglas Emilien has yet to take a snap in a Gopher uniform but I firmly believe he will earn the WR3 role by the time Michigan and Minnesota lineup at TCF Bank Stadium on October 24. He’s a very shifty and quick Wide receiver, who knows how to create seperation. Here’s his Hudl.

We will still see Seth Green again, for his Wildcat QB role. Don’t sleep on Daniel Jackson either, especially if any injury issues were to sprout up.

Tight End

RolePlayerClass
StartersJake PaulsonJr (RS)
Brevyn Spann-FordSo (RS)
Ko KieftSr (RS)
Bryce WithamSr (RS)
DepthAustin HendersonFr

I don’t know that there will be a true “starter” at tight end this season. The four veterans will mainly split snaps, depending on the role that needs filled for that play. Keep an eye on Brevyn Spann-Ford, though. He’s a big 6’7″ kid, who could be a threat in the pass game, now that Kirk Ciarrocca (who hates TE’s) isn’t calling the shots.




Offensive Line

RolePlayerClass
Left TackleSam SchlueterSr (RS)
— Depth— Blaise AndriesJr (RS)
JJ GuedetFr (RS)
Left GuardBlaise AndriesJr (RS)
— Depth— Conner OlsonSr (RS)
Austin BeierSo (RS)
CenterConner OlsonSr (RS)
— DepthJohn Michael SchmitzJr (RS)
Right GuardCurtis Dunlap JrSo (RS)
— Depth— Axel RuschmeyerJr (RS)
Right TackleDaniel FaaleleJr
— Depth— Blaise AndriesJr (RS)
JJ GuedetFr (RS)

This will be a very interesting group to watch, come October 24th. While I have Curtis Dunlap with the 1’s for now, I’m not so sure that’s what unfolding at practice. Dunlap Jr. put his name in the transfer portal about a month ago, just to pull it out a day later. Curtis might have to earn his spot back, but I’m fairly certain come game one, he will be starting. He’s too talented.

This was a solid group last year, that had some growing pains early on, but found their footing by the B1G Ten season. They return all 6 starters, which certainly helps. The improvement of Sam Schlueter and Curtis Dunlap really elevated the Gopher OL to another level in 2019. If they take another step forward in 2020… watch out.

As a group, this Minnesota Gophers offense is loaded with talent. They put up numbers so ridiculous in 2019, it’s possible we see regression in some statistical categories. As a whole, however, I expect this offense to take another step forward, behind the leadership of Tanner Morgan and veteran talent that riddles this side of the ball.

More consistency from the front of the schedule, to the back, would go a long way toward a successful 2020.

Max Carroll | Minnesota Sports Fan