The Minnesota Golden Gophers will have to replace the program’s most talented player for the second straight season.
Once Ra’Shede Hageman graduated a year ago, tight end Maxx Williams became the focal point of opponents’ game plans. Williams didn’t disappoint either.
Even with two years of eligibility remaining, the redshirt sophomore will reportedly enter the 2015 NFL draft, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN in Twin Cities.
“Sources also indicate that they realize the 2015 Draft is not strong for tight ends,” Wolfson wrote. “The expectation is that Williams can go as high as the late first or second round. He did submit his name to the NFL Draft Advisory Board, and the belief is the feedback they will continue to provide will cement his decision.”
The tight end finished first on the team with 29 receptions for 471 yards and seven touchdowns. When the Golden Gophers required a big play in the passing game, the pass was almost always intended for Williams.
As a result, Williams was a finalist for the Mackey Award as the nation’s best tight end.
With Williams and senior running back David Cobb both headed to the NFL, Jerry Kill’s staff will be forced to replace over 47 percent of the team’s offense next season.
But there still is one more game to go this year. Williams will be on display Jan. 1 during the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl against the No. 16 Missouri Tigers.
Michigan head coach Brady Hoke decided to make a change at quarterback prior to the start of the Wolverines’ meeting with the Minnesota Gophers for the Little Brown Jug.
Shane Morris was inserted into the lineup, but the sophomore signal-caller hasn’t exactly lit a spark under Michigan’s offense. The Wolverines are trailing the Gophers 10-7 at halftime, and Morris is struggling to get into a passing rhythm,.
Hoke made the move because senior Devin Gardner was 14-of-26 passing for 148 yards and two interceptions during Michigan’s 26-10 loss to the Utah Utes last weekend.
But Morris hasn’t played much better than Gardner. The former backup quarterback is 6-of-10 passing for 41 yards. Michigan’s only offense came from running back De’Veon Smith, who has 55 rushing yards and a touchdown.
Minnesota, likewise, is relying on their ground attack. The Gophers ran for 114 yards through two quarters. Senior David Cobb shouldered the load with 19 carries for 111 of those yards. Cobb also leads Minnesota with three receptions for 50 yards.
What’s most impressive about Cobb’s performance is his ability to break tackles and gain yards after contact. There were multiple instances during the first half when Michigan could have tackled the running back in the backfield, yet Cobb broke through arm tackles.
The Gophers are also winning the battle up front. Minnesota has been far more physical than Michigan, and the Gopher’s approach allowed them to control the first half. Jerry Kill‘s squad needs to maintain the same level of intensity in the second half to garner the victory.
The Wolverines, meanwhile, need to get Morris more involved in the offense and create easy throws for the young quarterback to complete. It’s clear Michigan is a more talented team from top to bottom, but their athletes can’t be pushed around by the Gophers’ offensive line.