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Who's the key to the Gopher offense?
Posted Jul 24, 2003
If you're wondering who the key offensive player for the Gopher football team will be this fall, you might be tempted to overthink the question. In this case, don't.
Yes, the running backs will be strong, the receivers talented and the line emerging. But if you are wondering who the key to the Gopher offense will be, look no further than quarterback
The Gophers' fate will hinge on the play of the senior from Elizabeth, N.J., who's entering his third year as the No. 1 QB on the
depth chart. After sharing time with Travis Cole for his first two years, Abdul-Khaliq started 12 games last year and led the Gophers to a win over
in the Music City Bowl.
The last time the Gophers were nationally ranked -- in 1999 -- they essentially had a caretaker quarterback in Billy Cockerham, whose primary job was to play mistake-free football. He didn't have to win games for that Gophers team -- he just couldn't lose them.
Expectations were similar for Abdul-Khaliq as he gained experience behind center. But this year, Glen Mason and his staff expect more from Abdul-Khaliq. He'll have to make good decisions, display maturity and leadership, and show more touch in the short passing game if the Gophers are going to succeed in 2003.
Last year, Abdul-Khaliq finished in the middle of the pack in the Big Ten in most quarterback statistics:
Passing yards per game
, 182.0 (7th)
Total offense per game
, 209.3 (5th)
, 123.6 (8th)
, 19 (4th)
, 11 (2nd most)
QB rushing yards
, 328 (4th)
He's listed in the top five of most Minnesota career passing statistics, and needs only two more touchdown passes to tie the career record of 40. He should be helped this year by a healthy tight end
, who played hurt most of last year, but questions surrounding the health of juco transfer
could be a major setback.
If Abdul-Khaliq falters, the only backup QB with game experience is senior
, who stepped in for Abdul-Khaliq and led the Gophers to a 45-42 win over
First football poll released
Jul 31, 2003
Ben West Named to 2003 Butkus Award Watch List
Aug 22, 2003
Paris Hamilton will miss the entire season
Aug 26, 2003
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