Who are the best players on the team Wisconsin is playing in any given week? We aim to find out and give you mini scouting reports on them so you can sound smart talking to your friends by saying “well, actually...” and then whatever smart thing we tell you. You’re welcome in advance for being the go-to friend in your group for Minnesota football knowledge.
Ugh. The Gophers. For the first time in 15 seasons they’ll have a boatload of confidence heading in to the battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe. Minnesota is not as talented as Wisconsin, or Iowa, or Nebraska or even Purdue, honestly, but they do have a couple of high end players that you should be watching out for when the Badgers and Gophers clash.
Best Offensive Player: WR Tyler Johnson, senior, No. 6
I do not like saying nice things about the Minnesota Golden Gophers football team but they have a wide receiver who is a very talented player and will be in the NFL in 2020.
Johnson has thrived under former NFL wide receiver P.J. Fleck. In 2018, Johnson was the Gophers’ best player, with 78 catches for 1169 yards and 12 touchdowns. If they get semi-consistent quarterback play this season (Editor’s note: one of the potential starters at QB is out indefinitely), he should have a similarly successful season.
Best Defensive Player: EDGE/LB Carter Coughlin, senior, No. 45
The 6’4” 250 pound edge rusher has 16 career sacks. While over the past two seasons he’s had players who have garnered NFL interest whether it was defensive tackle Steven Richardson in 2017 or Blake Cashman in 2018, now Coughlin will be the headlining defender for the Gophers in 2019.
Coughlin has played a few different positions for the Gophers due to his athletic versatility, but I’d expect him to play more traditional defensive end in 2019. He’s given UW right tackles issues already in his career, and unfortunately I expect that to last one more season.