Welcome to today's Gophers football Live Chat with Joe Christensen. He'll be here at noon for your questions and comments. You can leave them now and come back later. Thanks for joining us.
Hey everyone, thanks for stopping by. A great day for football here in the Twin Cities. Let's get started with your questions.
So many new ones in the East this year – Michigan State, Michigan, Penn State, Indiana, etc. Also not sure yet about Wisconsin’s Bart Houston. Quick top-of-head rankings would go: 1) JT Barrett, 2) CJ Beathard, 3) Leidner, 4) Wes Lunt, 5) Tommy Armstrong
I think Brooks is 1A, and Rodney Smith is 1B, with Kobe McCrary the No. 3. When Brooks gets back, I think they’ll continue splitting carries pretty evenly between Brooks and Smith, depending on health and the hot hand. I think Brooks has the highest ceiling.
It was interesting to hear Claeys say that in a typical offseason week, he spent four days in offensive staff room per every one day in the defensive staff room. He worked to familiarize himself more with the offense. He also trusts Jay Sawvel an awful lot with the defense.
From all accounts, the 2016 recruiting class was the best since Jerry Kill/Tracy Claeys regime got here. They’re off to a good start on the 2017 class with the offensive line – such a critical need. And not sure if you’ve seen the fly-by renderings of the football facility yet, but that thing looks like a total game changer to me. I didn't know it was going to be that impressive.
McDonald had off-field issues. Gentry has been injured. I'll agree those two were hyped pretty big. But it's the kind of position that seems like a crap shoot to me. Who knew Eric Decker was going to become a superstar? Rashad Still has emerged, and who would have guessed that? He didn't even start playing football until three years ago.
I covered some painful seasons in L.A. and Baltimore before I got to Minnesota, and then with the Twins in 2011. Those are tough. You have to give La Velle and Phil a lot of credit for bringing their A-game every day, even when the team doesn't.
The Gophers have done this before. I guess what stands out to me is that they brought these five guys in and they're all going to play pretty important roles. LT Garrison Wright, RG Vincent Calhoun -- those are two most important new players on the team. Another LT in Donnell Greene. RB Kobe McCrary -- you'll see a lot of him tonight, too. And DT Merrick Jackson could make a big difference with the run defense.
James got injured during training camp, and that set him back. I think he's next in line behind Brooks, Smith and McCrary.
Great question and a tough one. I am not sure. Cop out answer here but I would go: Croft (20 percent chance), Green (20 percent), Rhoda (20 percent), Williams (20 percent) and any potential incoming transfer (20 percent). It's wide open.
Let's just say it: The offense was painstakingly bad in non-conference play last year. That 10-7 win over Kent State? Wow. It was a grind all the way through the Northwestern game in Week 5.
I don't know about opening it up. I think Jay Johnson is going to want to establish the running game quickly tonight. I'd look for that first, and then play action with Leidner.
It's tempting to say WR Tyler Johnson based on Claeys' comments Tuesday. I was surprised to hear him gush like that about a true freshman. I would guess one of the the three defensive backs -- Kiondre Thomas, Coney Durr or Antoine Winfield. It's also tempting to say LB Kamal Martin or Carter Coughlin, who had a knee injury during training camp.
I think the knee has held him back a bit. As you hinted, the depth chart has Travis and Ayinde starting with Jacob Huff, Winfield, and Duke McGhee listed as the top backups.
He's about 6-2, coming back from a knee injury and still working like a machine. Love the guy. So happy to have him. He's going to be writing some football, yes, and of course covering Gophers basketball.
I think the first unit will be considerably better than last year's first unit. RG Vincent Calhoun and LT Garrison Wright made that big of difference. You have C Tyler Moore back with all the experience he got as a freshman. RT Jonah Pirsig is stronger than ever and a legit NFL prospect. And I think the newcomers are really helping push LG Connor Mayes and the others who've been around a while.
I disagree that Claeys is a place holder. I think he has an excellent chance to get a long-term extension with a solid season this year. But I would agree with the idea that a new AD with a history of being around winning programs (Kentucky basketball, Boise State football, Syracuse basketball) isn't going to wait long if the Gophers underachieve this year.
They have been tight-lipped over there. My gut says no Brandon Lingen (shoulder), Shannon Brooks (foot) and Eric Carter (ankle). KiAnte Hardin will play, though, and I think that's critical against Oregon State's underrated receiving corps.
You're not crazy, based on this schedule. Kirk Herbstreit picked the Gophers to win the West. I've got them going 8-4, with Iowa winning the West again. Others are more pessimistic. Las Vegas has their over-under for regular season wins set at 6.5.
I haven't heard of anything new in the uniform selection. I know Claeys likes the traditional look. They'll have the maroon and gold helmet options.
I think a position coach job might entice him, in the right situation. Head coach? I would never say never. And I can't blame people for wondering if he'd be next in line when Bill Snyder retires. But the other part about the book was reading about the toll the head coaching job had on his health. He's wired to go-go-go like 20 hours per day. I think this step as a football admin was a great move for him. He has so much to offer.
I thought it was a smart move freezing the scholarship seating prices for 2017. He hasn't been here long enough to do much more than that, but I have heard no concerns from the football people so far. And by now, there were concerns with Teague, who had established himself as a basketball guy with a lot less interest in football.