Gopher Football: One week until season opener


August 30, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers linebacker Mike Rallis (26), defensive back Jeremy Baltazar (22), and defensive back Derrick Wells (13) celebrate a defensive play against the UNLV Rebels during the second half at Sam Boyd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The 2013 Minnesota Golden Gophers football season is just one week away. The Gophers start year three under head coach Jerry Kill against the same team they defeated to begin 2012 — Nevada-Las Vegas.

Looking for a similar outcome to begin this season, coach Kill and the Maroon and Gold welcome the Runnin Rebels to TCF Bank Stadium on August, 29 and are favored for the victory. Next Thursday will mark the official start of the 2013-14 NCAA college football season as 34 total Division I-A FBS teams play across the country.

As the calendar winds down to kickoff, things are starting to take shape on the Minnesota roster with many questions being answered. It was made clear after practice on Wednesday that junior Marcus Jones will be apart of the Gophers special teams return group.

Kick returning was still an area of debate over two weeks through preseason camp. Jones will look to replace outgoing senior Troy Stoudermire, who finished his career at Minnesota as the nation’s All-Time leading kick returner with 3,530 yards. Jones has been hampered by knee injuries in his career, but Kill expressed “zero” concern about Jones’ ability to help the team return kicks.

In addition, the offensive line starters for the UNLV game will be decided Friday by the coaching staff. Offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover is still deciding on what to do at positions like center and left tackle to begin the year. Jon Christensen and Ed Olson will probably be the starters respectively in those positions during the Big Ten portion of the schedule, but injury concerns may limit their usage during the non-conference and keep them out of the starting lineup.

Overall, it looks to be an exciting week around the program before the 6:06 p.m. CT kickoff at “The Vault”. More roster developments are likely to come out as the week progresses. Other starters of interest to keep an eye on are linebacker, punter, and wide receiver. First year players as freshmen or junior college transfers, could be counted on at all three positions to begin the year.

In Other News…

  • The Minnesota women’s soccer team begins their regular season against Toledo on Friday. The Gophers will host a season opening tournament in their name at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium in St. Paul over the weekend with Belmont, North Dakota State, and the Rockets of Toledo. Game No. 1 on the season officially begins at 7:00 p.m. CT.
  • Sid Hartman of the Star Tribune wrote in his jottings column, that upwards of 8,000 students could be in attendance for the Minnesota home opener against UNLV. Hartman reported that just 3,500 total seats are left for the game according to David Benedict, Minnesota’s executive associate athletic director. Of those 8,000 students, a large portion will be freshmen, who were all given a free ticket to the game as part of their Welcome Week festivities.

Tweet of the Day

The sports teams aren’t the only ones practicing to get ready for the season. Spat Camp began Wed. for the Minnesota marching band. Who is ready to hear the Rouser from the Pride of Minnesota?

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