As the Minnesota Golden Gophers prepare to take on the New Mexico State University Aggies, a good deal of the talk around the Twin Cities has centered around the Gophers' quarterback situation. MarQueis Gray left the game after three quarters against the USC Trojans with some leg issues, and true freshman Max Shortell came in and nearly led Minnesota to what would have been a huge upset.
However, it might not be the passing game that is the key for Minnesota against the Aggies on Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium. In New Mexico State's season opener, the Aggies got absolutely shredded by the rushing attack of. . .Ohio University? Yes, although Ohio's leading rusher had just 81 yards, the Bobcats ran for 241 yards as a team against the Aggies, averaging a robust 5.1 yards/carry in the process. Ohio wasn't great through the air, but when you're running for almost 250 yards, you don't necessarily have to be.
For Minnesota, coach Jerry Kill wants to run the ball more frequently, but the Gophers didn't really do a whole lot of it against Southern Cal, and when they did try it wasn't terribly successful. Senior tailback Duane Bennett carried the ball 15 times for 53 yards, but half of his yardage came on Minnesota's first offensive play, a 25-yard run. Gray actually had one more carry than Bennett did, but only ran for 47 yards on his 16 carries.
The Gophers are heavily favored in their home opener against the Aggies, and rightfully so. But if Jerry Kill wants the Gophers to be a better running team, it would appear that this game against New Mexico State would be a good place to try to iron out the kinks.