MINNEAPOLIS - The University of Minnesota 2022 football season ended a week ago with a 28-20 win over Syracuse in the Bad Boy Mowers Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium.
The Gophers finished 9-4 for the second straight year, though they came up short of a Big Ten West title after losses to Iowa and Purdue. PJ Fleck has now led Minnesota to at least nine wins in the last three full seasons, something that hasn’t been done at Minnesota since 1900-1905. Fleck is now 44-27 in six seasons with the Gophers, including 26-26 in Big Ten play. Not counting a COVID-19 shortened season in 2020, Fleck is 29-10 overall and 18-9 in Big Ten play the last three seasons.
The Gophers are also 4-0 under Fleck in bowl games. So what did we learn from the 2022 season? Here’s a few storylines to monitor heading into spring football.
ATHAN KALIAKMANIS IS THE 2023 STARTING QB
Thrust into action with Tanner Morgan out twice due to concussions, Athan Kaliakmanis showed he is more than ready to be the starting quarterback in 2023. Kaliakmanis won three games as a starter and was 7-of-9 for 80 yards in the first quarter against Syracuse before leaving with an injury. It’s not considered serious, and we’ll see if he’s cleared for spring football. In 11 games, Kaliakmanis passed for 949 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions, and also ran for 140 yards.
He was willing to throw the ball downfield, and the Gophers’ offense should be more dynamic in 2023 with him as the starter.
RUNNING BACK CARRIES ARE UP FOR GRABS
Mo Ibrahim played his final game with the Gophers in the Pinstripe Bowl and had 16 carries for 71 yards and a touchdown before watching the second half from the sideline. He’ll leave Minnesota as the all-time leading rusher, and career touchdowns leader. The run game for the Gophers in 2023 is one of the biggest question marks for the offense. Trey Potts ran for 474 yards and three touchdowns in 12 games. After that, Zach Evans and Jordan Nubin had spot duty. Fleck has talented freshmen in Darius Taylor and Marquese Williams coming for 2023.
GOPHERS SHOULD HAVE TALENTED WIDE RECEIVER ROOM
They have to go out and prove it on the field, but the Gophers shouldn’t lack receivers next year with Kaliakmanis at quarterback. Daniel Jackson had four catches for 73 yard and two scores in the Pinstripe Bowl. Chris Autman-Bell is returning after a season-ending injury against Colorado. Dylan Wright is capable of big plays. Lemecke Brockington made big plays at the end of the season, and Brevyn Spann-Ford is back after leading the Gophers with 42 catches this season.
If that’s not enough, the Gophers added Corey Crooms and Elijah Spencer as transfers. What we don’t know is the status of Michael Brown-Stephens, who hasn’t been with the team since beating Wisconsin and didn’t play in the bowl game.
CODY LINDENBERG THE NEW MARIANO SORI-MARIN?
Cody Lindenberg is quickly becoming the heart of the Minnesota defense. The former Anoka standout finished second for the Gophers with 71 tackles, and had 11 tackles in the Pinstripe Bowl before leaving with a knee injury. He’ll be the new leader at linebacker in 2023, with Braelen Oliver transferring and Mariano Sori-Marin out of eligibility.
TYLER NUBIN THE LEADER IN THE SECONDARY
The Gophers got some big news before the Pinstripe Bowl with Tyler Nubin announcing his return for a sixth season in 2023. Nubin had 55 tackles, two tackles for loss and led the defense with four interceptions. With Jordan Howden and Terell Smith moving on, he’ll be the leader in a secondary that will bring back Justin Walley, Beanie Bishop, Ryan Stapp and Darius Green returning. True freshman Coleman Bryson was also the MVP of the Pinstripe Bowl after a 70-yard pick-six.
TRILL CARTER, JAH JOYNER TO ANCHOR DEFENSIVE LINE
The Gophers’ defensive line has a plethora of talent going into 2023, and they shouldn’t lack depth. They’ll be anchored by Trill Carter, Jah Joyner (2.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks) and Danny Striggow (4.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks). Jalen Logan-Redding also played in all 13 games and had 18 tackles, three tackles for loss and one sack.
MATTHEW TRICKETT’S DEPARTURE LEAVES UNCERTAINTY AT KICKER
Fleck will have a new kicker when he 2023 season starts as Matthew Trickett is out of eligibility. He was 15-of-18 on field goals in 2022, and a perfect 46-of-46 on extra points. Dragan Kesisch, a kickoff specialist with 58 touchbacks this season, could take over full-time kicking duties.