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The Countdown

A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.

Likes and Dislikes

Five and Five: Minnesota

What are five things I like about Minnesota in 2010? What about five things I don’t? This list has all the answers.


1. I expect at least a moderate improvement from the offensive line, which returns each of the five players that finished last season in the starting lineup.

2. The strength of the defense will be its secondary, though much depends on the availability of two returning starters at safety. Kim Royston (broken leg) and Kyle Theret (team suspension) did not participate in the spring; they both should return by the fall, however.

3. Coach Tim Brewster’s decision to get behind senior quarterback Adam Weber. It was the right move. Weber’s backup, MarQueis Gray, is a wonderful athlete, but he’s not ready to take over under center on a permanent basis.

4. Even if unproven, the defensive line has potential. End D.J. Wilhite should be the team’s best pass rusher, and tackles Brandon Kirksey and Jewhan Edwards are solid, Big Ten-caliber performers on the interior.

5. I don’t like the idea that Brewster has had three offensive coordinators in three years. I do respect, in a strange way, the fact that Brewster is unafraid to make changes if he believes it will help his team.


1. In total, nine lost starters on defense. Linebacker was hit especially hard by graduation, losing all three members of a vastly underrated starting trio.

2. A paltry ground game. Perhaps an improved offensive line will allow Minnesota to average — my goodness — 100 yards rushing per game. As on the line, expect a handful of true freshmen to contribute immediately come September.

3. No Eric Decker at wide receiver. We were able to see last fall just how important the departed all-Big Ten receiver was to this offense.

4. A tough Big Ten slate. The more winnable games — on paper, at least — come on the road: Purdue, Michigan State and Illinois. The home schedule, which includes U.S.C., Ohio State and Penn State, is very difficult.

5. Tim Brewster. I just don’t see it: three offensive coordinators in as many years, a solid, not spectacular defense and recruiting that has fallen short of expectations in each of the last two cycles.

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