Minnesota looks to beat the Texas heat

The Gophers are emphasizing hydration after some players cramped last week.

by Grant Donald

When the Gophers took the field on Saturday, they were greeted by 73 degrees and sunshine — similar weather to what they’ll see in Fort Worth, Texas, this Saturday against TCU.

After seeing multiple players on defense go down with cramps against Middle Tennessee State, the Gophers are looking to hold up better this time around.

“It is a concern … you can’t have your good players cramping up. It wasn’t that hot or anything like that,” head coach Jerry Kill said after Saturday’s game.

Due to this concern, there has been an added emphasis on hydration for all players this week. Redshirt senior defensive lineman Cameron Botticelli said he believes the team will not face any problems during their stay in Texas.

He said the team’s dietitian has done a good job of ensuring that the team is getting the electrolytes they need and drinking plenty of water.

The Gophers were able to make do with the heat against Middle Tennessee State, but may not be so lucky against the up-tempo TCU offense.

Heading into 2014, the TCU Horned Frogs decided to change their offensive philosophy to a faster-paced style of play.

The changes were noticeable when they racked up 555 total yards in a 48-14 victory over Samford in their opening game on Aug. 30.

“[The tempo] will be a little faster than what we are normally used to,” Gophers defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys said. “Sometimes it takes a couple series to get adjusted to just how fast they are going to go. You hope you can survive those first couple series and hang on.”

If the Gophers can’t hold on while they adjust to the speed of TCU’s no-huddle offense, they may be in trouble.

Horned Frogs quarterback Trevone Boykin looked solid in TCU’s season opener, throwing for 320 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He also added a rushing touchdown in the victory.

“[Boykin] is as good an athlete as we are going to play at quarterback, so that is a little bit of concern,” Claeys said.

Since Gophers players have had to miss game and practice time due to injuries ranging from cramps to ACL tears, numerous young defensive players have gained game experience — something that should help Minnesota this weekend.

“Hot stove theory is the best way to learn in my opinion,” Claeys said. “When you get burned, you learn to stay away from that mistake again. Hopefully [the younger players] had enough of those and are ready to go.”

The heat is not only problematic for the defense but for the entire team. However, it seems like the players will be well prepared to avoid costly cramps.

“[There is] just an emphasis this whole week on hydration knowing we are going to be in that Texas heat,” redshirt sophomore Maxx Williams said. “I am going to hydrate the best I can all week leading up to game day.”