Which player will become the most famous Gopher football player in 2019?
- by admin
The 2018 season was a huge one for the Gophers, and a couple of new additions had a big impact on their chances at reaching the NCAA championship game.
Running back Michael Thomas and quarterback Ryan Burns were both named first team all-conference, and while the former Gophers star might be a bit more familiar with the spotlight than the latter, the Gopher offense was just as prolific.
While the offense was in a transition period after a promising debut season under new head coach Scott Frost, Thomas and Burns combined for 3,611 rushing yards, 1,634 receiving yards and 29 touchdown receptions.
While they were both productive in their debut campaigns, Thomas had a much bigger impact as a sophomore.
His 894 yards and 21 touchdowns ranked third on the team, and he also caught eight passes for 116 yards and a touchdown.
In fact, Thomas was the only freshman to record more than 10 rushing touchdowns in a season for the first time since 2008.
Burns had a solid rookie campaign, as well, rushing for 2,619 yards and 14 touchdowns, including a pair of 300-yard games in his first two seasons.
His numbers dipped a bit in his sophomore season, as he was just 1,921 yards and 10 touchdowns on 447 carries.
But that was offset by a solid second season under Frost.
In 2019, Burns was just another member of a solid offensive line that also included senior David Moore and freshman Ryan Killeen.
As mentioned earlier, the running back unit was a major reason why the Gators finished sixth in the conference in total offense (3,624 yards and 16 touchdowns) and ninth in total defense (5,945 yards and 15 touchdowns).
Killeens’ role on that line was huge, as the Gator offensive line had the fifth-best run blocking efficiency in the country.
This unit was also one of the best in the FBS in terms of pass blocking, with Burns leading the way with 1,854 yards and 18 touchdowns.
That’s not to mention the two offensive linemen, junior left tackle Nick Schuster and junior right guard Luke Wilbon.
Schuster was a force in the running game, with 611 rushing attempts and 19 rushing touchdowns, while Wilbon was a tremendous blocker in the passing game, as his 2,735 yards and 26 touchdowns ranked fifth on the GSU team.
While Burns had the most touchdowns of any Gopher running back in 2019, his yards per carry was the lowest of any running back, and the running backs rushing totals were also the lowest for any Gophers running back since 2015.
The running game was also a strength for the passing offense, as Wisconsin led the nation in total points scored (20.4 points per game), passing touchdowns (34), passing yards (6,664), passing TDs per game (8.2) and passing yards per attempt (3.6).
The running backs also added five other starters to the receiving corps, with senior Devin Wilson, freshman Jake Rudock, sophomore Isaiah Bowers, freshman Jacob Huesman and junior Kyle Bowers also receiving significant playing time in the offense.
But while the Gated community was excited to see new faces at the quarterback position, it was also very excited to have some familiar faces at receiver.
Freshman Jake Butt, who had an up-and-down sophomore season after transferring from Oklahoma State, had a breakout season for Wisconsin.
He caught a team-leading 50 passes for 741 yards and eight touchdowns, and was also named second team all conference.
He was one of three Gophers to reach double-digit touchdowns, with sophomore Tyler Gossett being the other.
Freshmen Devante Mays and Sam Ehlinger were also impressive in their first seasons at quarterback, as they each had 20 touchdown receptions, including nine in 2019.
The Badgers offensive line, meanwhile, had some issues, as junior left guard Ryan Hill was limited in the run game due to injury and junior center Joe Thomsen suffered a season-ending injury.
But overall, the line was solid, and they finished sixth nationally in total tackles and third in sacks, both of which were very good numbers for a Gophers line that was ranked first nationally in those categories.
It should also be noted that the Gorges offensive line struggled at times this season, but it wasn’t for lack of effort.
They were also able to limit injuries and prevent any other major injuries, with seven of their nine seniors making the Pro Bowl.
The Gophers finished 6-6 overall and 9-4 in conference play, and were ranked third nationally in both scoring offense and total offense.
For the Gos, the 2018 season is also the last for quarterback Ryan Finley, who left for the NFL.
He had a career year, completing 65.2 percent of his passes for 3.8 yards per completion and throwing for 742 yards
The 2018 season was a huge one for the Gophers, and a couple of new additions had a big impact…