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Minnesota needs to ramp up passing game

Minnesota needs to ramp up passing game

By Jon Krawczynski, Associated Press | Posted - Sep. 24, 2014 at 2:00 a.m.

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota quarterback Chris Streveler walked into class on Monday after the victory against San Jose State and the teasing began.

"Hey, Strev," they cracked, "nice completion."

In his first collegiate start, Streveler completed just one pass in his seven attempts. That's it.

The Golden Gophers didn't exactly resemble a modern, cutting-edge offense against the Spartans, but they did churn out 380 yards on the ground to grind out a win.

As encouraging as the ground game was, including Streveler's 161 yards, the Gophers coaches know they can't rely on that exclusively when Big Ten play begins Saturday at Michigan.

"Probably not," offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover said. "We've got to get better. When we do throw the football, we've got to get better. I'm not going to say we need to throw it more. But when we do, we need to make sure that it's spot on."

Streveler, a redshirt freshman, got the start last week after Mitch Leidner went down with a left knee injury and turf toe on his left foot. Gopher coach Jerry Kill said Tuesday that Leidner is questionable for the game against the Wolverines (2-2), but all indications were that Streveler would be back under center in the Big House.

When Streveler walked into the Gophers' team room to meet the media, senior defensive lineman Cameron Botticelli jabbed him with a "make way for the starting quarterback" crack. Streveler side-stepped questions about starting on Saturday, but said he will be ready if he's called upon.

"I don't know, what does the starting quarterback feel like?" Streveler said. "I feel like myself. I don't feel any different than I did last week."

Streveler took the passing game's struggles in stride, posting a photo on Twitter of him with his arms outstretched that said "This is me wondering why I haven't completed a pass yet."

It was easy for him to laugh it off when David Cobb rushed for 207 yards and two touchdowns and Streveler got into the end zone on a 1-yard plunge.

But it will be tougher this week against Michigan, which despite the turmoil it is facing ranks first in the Big Ten and eighth in the country in total defense. The Wolverines are allowing just 80.3 yards rushing per game.

"We did what it takes to win a game," Kill said. "We certainly prepare to throw the ball as much as we can in the situations that dictate it. But we're smart enough to know we're going to have to do some good things in the throwing game to be able to win on Saturday and also not turn it over when you do it. So there's a two-fold thing there."

Tight end Maxx Williams missed the game last week and is doubtful to play against Michigan.

But Streveler knows what it feels like to start in college and has the routine of preparation down. And even though he only completed one pass last weekend, he's not lacking in confidence heading into one of college football's most famous venues.

"I'm a little more confident, but I don't think confidence was ever really an issue for me or the team going in," Streveler said. "It's always good to just say you have your first start under your belt and kind of go through the process of the week of going in as the starter and preparing for the game as the starter. I wouldn't say it's confidence, but it's good to have that under my belt."

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Jon Krawczynski


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