Scouting Report: Minnesota

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Round #3: Minnesota Golden Gophers

2010 Record: 1-1 (W - Middle Tennessee St., L - South Dakota)

2009 Record: 6-7 (3-5 in the Big Ten)

Series History: 4-1-1 USC (Last meeting: 24-7 Trojans in 1980)

Head Coach: Tim Brewster (4th year)

Brewster was hired over Lane Kiffin in '07, but he went 1-11 in his first season.  The Gophers are 13-13 over the last two years, including two bowl appearances.

Players to Watch: QB Adam Weber (Senior, Shoreview, MN); RB Duane Bennett (Junior, Fairview Heights, MN)

Weber is the first three-time captain in the history of the Golden Gophers program.  The four-year starter enjoyed his best success as a freshman in 2007 (24 TD passes), but he's off to an extremely efficient start in 2010 (3 TD/0 INT).  His mobility has suffered over time (617 rush yards in '07, but -133 in '09).

Bennett led the Golden Gophers in rushing last year (376 yards), but he's almost topped that through the first two games this season (291 yards).  He's currently sixth in the nation in rushing yards per game (145.5).

Strength: Explosive Offense

Taking advantage of a soft schedule, Minnesota's offense has racked up some pretty impressive numbers.  They rank 18th in the nation in rush offense (242.4 yards per game) and 29th overall in terms of total offense per contest (446.5).  Without the graduated Eric Decker, converted QB MarQueis Gray is their top receiver, but they get the big plays from Bennett, who already has four runs over 20 yards.

Weakness: Pass Defense

Matt Barkley, Ronald Johnson and the rest of the aerial attack have to be salivating at what Middle Tennessee St. and South Dakota were able to do to this Gophers defense.  Minnesota ranks 97th in the nation in pass defense and 88th in scoring defense allowing 29 points per game.

Minnesota Verdict

If USC does not show improvement, Minnesota will be another "flip-flop" game.  Unless the Trojans kill themselves with penalties and turnovers, they will put up numbers against the Gophers defense.

However, if the defense from Hawaii shows up, we could witness another shootout. 

Adam Weber has the second most career starts of any QB in the country (Houston's Case Keenum is #1), so he won't be intimidated by the Trojans and RB Duane Bennett will test the no-tackling in practice policy.

Head coach Tim Brewster is on the hot seat.  Now that Minnesota has a new stadium, they expect to vault up the Big Ten into annual contention.  After a home loss to South Dakota, Brewster's bunch will be geared up for USC.

The horseshoe shaped TCF Bank Stadium is their first on-campus venue since 1981.

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