Gopher Football: Game 1 Preview – Eastern Illinois


Football is back! Real live football. While the professional side of TCF Bank Stadium is down in Nashville to finish up their preseason, the University of Minnesota and their Golden Gophers jump into action with their first game of the year. The Gophers take on Eastern Illinois.

This is the first time in history that the two teams have faced each other. Eastern Illinois is 1-0 against teams from Minnesota, though. Eastern Illinois defeated Winona State in an 1986 matchup.

This is the first time the Gophers have faced Eastern Illinois, but that doesn’t mean that the coaching staff isn’t familiar with the opposition. Jerry Kill and crew faced Eastern Illinois while they were coaching at Southern Illinois. Kill is 2-1 against Eastern Illinois.

Why does Eastern Illinois sound familiar? Last year they had a quarterback named Jimmy Garoppolo that was really good. So good in fact that he was a second round draft pick taken by the New England Patriots.

This game is the earliest game ever in Gophers history and only the ninth game in August.

There is not a whole lot to really preview for the game, because frankly the Gophers should roll over the FCS opponent. If everything goes right, the Gophers should be able to just use a power running game and shove the ball down the Panthers’ throat and into the TCF Bank Stadium endzones.

The Gophers have a trio of running backs that all should receive touches in the game. The name to watch is David Cobb who lead the squad in total offense last season with 1,202 yards, all of which were rushing.

Another thing to watch is quarterback Mitch Leidner. For the first time in recent history, there wasn’t much buzz of a quarterback controversy in camp after Leidner won the job during the course of last season. A full season of Leidner will be very fun to watch, especially with the running game that should open up a lot of passing opportunities for the Gophers.

Kickoff is scheduled for 6:06 Central. The game can be seen on Big Ten Network and heard on KOOL 108.