Maisel: Gophers headed in right direction

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

ESPN.com senior writer Ivan Maisel revealed his teams on the rise for 2009, and Minnesota made the list. The Gophers rebounded from a 1-11 season in 2007 to go 7-6 last fall. They return nine starters on offense and possibly as many as eight on defense, pending safety Tramaine Brock's academic situation. Minnesota also hired four new coaches, including coordinators Jedd Fisch and Kevin Cosgrove.

Here's what Maisel wrote about Minnesota:

The Gophers have 19 returning starters, including wide receiver Eric Decker, who may be the best receiver north of Julio Jones. A healthy Decker helped Minnesota begin 7-1. An injured Decker left the Gophers' offense shorthanded as Minnesota lost its last four regular-season games. Like Miami, the biggest changes for Minnesota are among the guys wearing whistles. Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch, 32, who comes from the NFL, has never been a coordinator. Offensive line coach Tim Davis is a steal. Defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove is a veteran who knows the Big Ten well. His defenses played well at Wisconsin under Barry Alvarez. At Nebraska under Bill Callahan, they didn't.