We were wondering which Minnesota QB would get the start against the Badgers Saturday in Camp Randall. Would it be the runner MarQueis Gray or the passer Max Shortell? Turns out it will be neither. Instead the Gophers will go with freshman Philip Nelson. The Madison native and one-time Wisconsin recruiting target will make his first career start in the home of the Badgers, but not for the Badgers.
The Gophers had every intention of leaving Nelson on the bench all year to learn the offense, but Jerry Kill’s hand was forced by Gray’s injury and Shortell’s ineffectiveness. And now with the season pretty much in the crapper anyway, why not get the kid out there and get him some experience? It figures to be a pretty harsh introduction though, considering where the game is being played and against whom.
From the Badgers’ perspective, this doesn’t change very much I don’t think. Nelson does have more talent than Shortell but how much command of the offense can he have after just a week of practice? Gray at least presents a running threat you have to account for but the Badgers won’t have to worry about that now. They’ll be facing a freshman QB and likely a scaled-back offense. Look for lots of running from the Gophers.
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