MINNEAPOLIS - The start of the season always brings optimism.
Players at Minnesota insist this is different. They're determined to get back to a bowl game.
Gophers coach Jerry Kill has a history of guiding improvement. At each of his previous stops, Saginaw Valley State, Emporia State, Southern Illinois and Northern Illinois, Kill's teams had a better record in his second year.
Minnesota is coming off consecutive 3-9 finishes. Quarterback MarQueis Gray returns after an up-and-down first season as a starter. Running back and wide receiver positions are wide open, but the offensive line is more experienced and largely intact. The development of a mostly young defense might be the biggest key for the Gophers this year.
The season opener is Aug. 30 at UNLV.
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