TGIF Nugz on TDG! As you'd expect given the time of year there are a lot of links so lets get started...
Gillum gets a lot of attention today because he continues to get a lot of attention on the intertubes. The more I read about this guy the more optimistic I get. I know how dangerous that is but we're 21 days away from football. It happens.
- Marcus Fuller starts us off with a look at how Gillum might be the first 1,000 yard rusher since the Mason years. Gillum doesn't boast that this will happen...it's Fuller's hook on the story. As far as I can tell, this kid is pretty modest. The most boastful thing he says in the article is:
"I feel like I'm an all-around back"
Fuller adds in few nuggets to support why he thinks Gillum might go for 1,000, including this historical tidbit:
James Gillum has put up big numbers running with the football at every level. He did it in high school. He did it in junior college. The Gophers hope he's ready now to do it for them.
Gillum has rushed for more than 1,000 yards in every season since his sophomore year at Pearl River High School in Louisiana.
I certainly hope Fuller is right. As he notes, we haven't had a 1K rusher since 2006. That said, as FBT outlined in their RB preview a few days ago the performance of our running backs has been WELL below the statistical average across all of D-I. As a result, there is a lot of room for Gillum to make an impact.
More Gillum, encouraging news about Gray, and plenty else is below the jump...
- The STrib continues to bring Amelia Rayno on to help with the FB beat and she delivers her own article on the progress of Gillum and the rest of the RB's. Continuing the love being shown for his abilities she highlights this moment from Wed's practice:
Gillum took the ball and ran straight into a wall of defenders -- and then rolled right and snuck through a gap to gain an extra 5 yards as his teammates yelled their support on the sideline. Gillum's efficient combination of power and elusiveness is something they and the coaches are getting accustomed to seeing. After all, he's been perhaps the most consistent running back in practice this year, a testament to his ability to remain even-keeled despite outside influences.
She also hears from the other RB's that Gillum is starting to assert himself as the leader of the RB corp:
Gillum pushes in his own way, adapting a louder, more aggressive personality on the field that media members don't get to see, Kirkwood said.
"Quiet to y'all, maybe -- he isn't that quiet to us," Kirkwood said with a chuckle. "He'll get on me, he'll get on Cobb, he'll get on Devon just as well as I get on anyone.
"He shows us that he is the oldest and he probably is -- I'll have to say -- the most mature in some of the ways, but he kind of rubs off on all of us. When he gets serious, we'll kind of get serious."
Like I said above, I just have a feeling that this guy will help the Gophers out. Will he be all-world? I sincerely doubt it. But will he perform at a level we haven't seen quite a while here at MN? I'm thinking yes. And even performing at a simple, above average level would go a long way to opening up the offense.
- Phil Miller gives us a blog post that has both a mildly deceptive headline and a bunch of great little nuggets from Thursday's practices. They include nice moments of QB progress and quality receiving, some defensive highlights, notes that KJ Maye continues to wow, and a daily funny from Coach Kill. Jumping back to Maye, it really does sound like he's an explosive guy:
The morning workout wasn't nearly as interesting, though it did feature freshman K.J. Maye, who has mostly played tailback so far, lining up at wide receiver and catching a couple of passes. The completions weren't as impressive as Maye's moves past the defense once he caught the ball, though. The Gopher coaches seem to be enjoying the versatility of their quickest player.
All the writers are questioning whether he'll be a RS. Something to keep an eye on.
- Nate Sandell opens with Gray's positive take on frosh QB Mitch Leidner. His success early this fall is a good thing, as having two strong RS frosh QB's next fall would be a wonderful development. He goes on to write a few paragraphs about the punting competition, something the was highlighting extensively on Twitter yesterday. Summery? Orseske is still horribly inconsistent, Peter Martell is consistent but doesn't have the strongest leg, and walk-on Aussie Christian Eldred is playing the role of wildcard.
Other nuggets? DCT was in a non-contact jersey after pulling a hammy on Wed. Brandon Green was also wearing the orange shirt while sporting a knee brace. While the depth at WR looks better with the impressive displays from the freshman the lack of experience in this unit makes any injuries a concern.
Lastly, he highlights the vast improvements that MarQueis has made:
Gray, through seven practices, has had very few glaring mistakes. Apart from a spattering of overthrows, his accuracy has been in check and his command of the offense is markedly increased from a year ago.
"He's been very sharp," Kill said. "I think we're catching the ball better, but he's been on target most of the time."
- Fuller's blog post also focuses on Q and is full of more positive thoughts:
Senior MarQueis Gray has been just as impressive with what he’s not doing as what he’s been doing in fall camp this year.
Sure, the second-year starting quarterback has improved on throwing deep routes. Gray has been better than a year ago with hitting his receivers in stride and right on the numbers. The work he did in the offseason on timing made a difference. But most importantly, Gray has limited his mistakes. He’s the only Gophers quarterback as far as I’ve seen who hasn’t thrown an interception in scrimmages.
No INT's thus far? Based on the common comments about the improvements in coverage from the D I think this is a good sign. Also a good sign is that Kill feels the receivers are catching the ball well. More optimism brews. Fuller ends with some highlight moments from Thursday's practice.
- Rittenburg has taken notice of the improvements in offense and uses Limegrover's weight loss as the hook to talk about the Gophers' attempts to "fatten up" their offense.
- Fox Sports North has a nice profile on walk-on RB Cole Banham, who chose to give up the chance to have a little more spotlight at a smaller school to be a walk-on at the U. But not an anonymous walk-on. Why? Because he is more likely to be known as the older brother of women's bball stud Rachel Banham then as a Gopher RB.
- Dave Campbell from the AP notes that the Gophers need improvement from their receivers to get better as a team.
- More Gray, as CBS Sports looks at how the Gophers went to Baylor looking for little nuggets that might help Gray improve between 2010 and 2011. Shooter has a blurb on Gray's advancement as a vocal leader.
- TRE over at Down With Goldy gives his take on the team and seems ready to enter the Kill Zone.
- George Thole at the Stillwater Gazette also offers his preview of the 2012 Gophers.
- As I noted in yesterday's Nugz, it looks like Norwood Teague intends to deliver new FB facilities for Coach Kill at the same time as the new basketball practice center. Doogie clarified his earlier comments to me yesterday and it is really beginning to sound like this is a serious plan and not pie in the sky brainstorming. The big outstanding detail is whether Kill will get everything he wants (a state of the art facility by TCF) or something more modest that still improves significantly on the current Gibson-Nagurski complex. MV over at FBT takes some time to brainstorm where Kill's preferred facility by TCF might go. It's certainly fun to think about and I hope that Teague finds a way to make the state of the art option a reality.
- Former Gopher Barbora Spotakova won gold.
- Gopher baseball adds a JUCO talent.
- Lindsey Berg's return from injury lifts the US volleyball team to victory in the Olympic semis.
- Off Tackle Empire had a hilarious B1G Power Poll the other day. This week's theme was Civil War generals. I highly recommend it.
- An off-campus bookstore not affiliated with Penn State is selling a controversial t-shirt.
- In news that surprises no one, Lane Kiffin is a dbag and a liar.
- His UCLA counterpart Jim Mora points out that USC is in a bad part of town and that people don't get shot near UCLA. Quite a recruiting pitch there Jim.
- Seantrel Henderson is having a rough go of it. I'm not one of those people who will wish ill will towards a local player who chooses not to come to MN so I hope things work out for him. I also hope he gets free of what appears to be an over-involved father and gets his head on straight.
- Stumbled upon this older (but still hilarious) link the other day. Were you aware that Delta State University has a Fighting Okra as their unofficial mascot? They've put out great a series of ads featuring it. Here's two of them (both vids via dsucommark, more ads at the link):
The Okra even appeared in an episode of the Food Network show Good Eats. Better unofficial mascot than Keggy the Keg of Dartmouth? That's for you to decide. In fact, I feel like knowing what you think. Time for an end of Nugz poll...Keggy versus The Fighting Okra.
- This seems like a good problem for Mizzou's football team to have.
- One of the members of the USA 4x400 relay team ran the final 200m of his opening leg on, well, a broken leg (fibula to be exact). That's just badass.