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Five reasons for optimism heading into Gophers’ 2024 season

There is plenty of reason optimism for the Gophers heading into the 2024 season.



Minnesota Golden Gopher football will be returning August 29th, so let’s take a look at what is new with the team and some reasons to be optimistic that they will be much improved from a season ago.

New Quarterback on campus

There is always a bit more excitement surrounding a team when they have a new QB under center, and this year will be Max Brosmer leading the offense for the Gophers. Brosmer brings an experienced arm that had plenty of passing success in his career at New Hampshire. He ranked number one in the FCS in passing yards per game and total offense while being a finalist for the Walter Payton Award, which is essentially the FCS Heisman for those who do not know. Brosmer came to the U early in the transfer portal period, therefore he has had plenty of time to adapt to his new playbook and build relationships with his new teammates. The U’s passing attack in 2024 should be its best since Tanner Morgan’s 2019 season, especially with the depth and talent that Brosmer will have to throw to this year.

Pair and a spare and a spare and a spare

One of Fleck’s philosophies is having a “pair and a spare”, when it comes to the rushing attack, meaning there are two backs that take most of the rushes and one spare to take the load off or fill in for an injury. Well after an injury-riddled 2023 season, where the offense reached as far as their 5th-string running back, they went into the portal and snagged three more experienced backs to pair with the returning Darius Taylor and Jordan Nubin.

Coming in will be Sieh Bangura (Ohio University), Marcus Major (Oklahoma), and Jaren Mangham (Michigan State), to help with depth and take a load off of Darius Taylor’s back. Gopher fans know how talented Darius Taylor was in 2023 when healthy, as he was 3x Freshman of the Week and averaged 133 yards a game, including a freshman-record 208 yards in their bowl game. The rushing attack has always been the focal point of P.J.’s offenses at Minnesota but look for a more balanced attack in 2024, which should allow for less crowded boxes and more room for Darius Taylor and company to run. 

NFL Draft prospects to watch for next year 

The Gophers had only one player drafted in 2023, but that number will be higher next spring, as the Gophers have a number of prospects that stayed back this year. The Gopher, likely, highest draft pick in 2024 will be left tackle Aireontae Ersery, who is looking to build off his All-BIG10 2023 season. With their left tackle, the offense could see Daniel Jackson, Max Brosmer, Quinn Carroll, and more looking to get their names called next spring.

The defense could see plenty of action in the draft as; Jah Joyner, Justin Walley, Cody Lindenberg, Danny Striggow, Ethan Robinson, and Jack Henderson, will all be names to look out for. Lastly, Dragan Kesich could build on his Big Ten Kicker of the Year season and be the Gophers’ first kicker drafted this century. 

New Big Ten teams

The Big Ten will look quite a bit different this year, as 2024 will kick off a new era of conference alignments. Joining the BIG10 this year will be USC, UCLA, Oregon, and Washington. With these teams joining, Minnesota will be getting USC at home and will be heading to the Rose Bowl for a tilt with UCLA. Although traditionalists will need time to get used to the new college football landscape, change is always exciting, especially when it brings the end of the dreaded BIG10 West division.

All four trophy games on the line

Minnesota will get their full slate of Rivalry Trophy Games in 2024, as they will face Iowa for the Floyd of Rosedale, Michigan for the Little Brown Jug, Penn State for the Governor’s Victory Bell, and Wisconsin for Paul Bunyon’s Axe. One of the beauties of college football are these trophy games throughout the season, and Minnesota gets the opportunity to play in all four of them this season. Minnesota currently only has possession of the Floyd of Rosedale, after Cooper DeJean’s invalid fair catch signal, therefore they will be looking to get some hardware back from their rivals in 2024. In addition to their Trophy games, the Gophers are also likely to face their 2023 Quarterback, Athan Kaliakmanis, when they head to New Jersey to face Rutgers. Plenty of opportunities for thrilling matchups for the Gophers in 2024. 

P.S – 2024 does not have a matchup with the Nebraska Cornhuskers for the unofficial $5 Bits of Broken Chair trophy, so after their victory last season they will retain possession for another season.