Gophers pre-game: Middle Tennessee State

Jack Satzinger

The Gophers (1-0) are set to take on Middle Tennessee State (1-0) at 2:30. Here's everything you need to know about Minnesota heading into their second game of the year.

Minnesota topped Eastern Illinois 42-20 in its season-opener last Thursday behind a strong debut from redshirt freshman running back Berkley Edwards.

Edwards included, the Gophers offense boasts an abundance of young playmakers. But injuries to multiple defensive linemen, including Scott Ekpe who's out for the year, will force true freshmen to step up in the trenches. And in an attempt to stay healthy himself, redshirt sophomore quarterback Mitch Leidner is fighting his instinct to run the ball.

Middle Tennessee State beat up a lowly Savannah State team 61-7 last week. The Blue Raiders have a competent sophomore quarterback in Austin Grammer, who completed 15 of 17 passes for 250 yards in their season-opener. But Grammer should have a much tougher time going up against Minnesota's talented secondary.

The point of emphasis for both teams could be the Gophers' defensive line. The Blue Raiders might go to a power run game in an attempt to exploit some of Minnesota's youth up front. But in the end Minnesota has too much talent at just about every other position, which should more than make up for any potential defensive lapses in the trenches.

Here are three questions entering the contest:

1) How will Mitch Leidner respond after some jitters early last week?

2) Can junior receiver KJ Maye, who had a great fall camp, get involved after not being targeted in the season-opener?

3) How will Minnesota's defensive line look after losing some of its depth? 

Prediction: Minnesota 38 Middle Tennessee State 14