I was able to head over to the Gopher's practice this morning and per the usual policies, I was able to watch the first 30 minutes. The time I was there was basically walkthroughs. There isn't a ton to glean from what I saw but here are some observations...
- As I was walking in the defense was getting together pre-practice doing the typical "rah-rah, let's get something done today" speech. But what stood-out (literally) was Cedrick McKinley. He was a half-head taller than everybody else and very large. He has the body of a DE that could be playing on Sunday's next year, I'm not exaggerating. He is huge and cut, he could really make a difference this year if his game can match his body.
- One segment was special team work, specifically punting. The protection unit was working on their thing but I was paying closer attention to those working on returning the punts. The group returning included Hayo Carpenter, Troy Stoudermire, Marcus Sherels and Bryant Allen (and one other guy, who I can't recall. It was not Green). The one thing I was really looking for was the supposed 'burst' from Hayo, but the group was really just working on finding the ball and catching it, not returning it. I witnessed Allen muff a couple but the rest of the group fielded things fine.
- Along the OL I really only looked at big, Jeff Wills. And he really is a big man. Nothing was full speed so I couldn't see him trying to block anybody but he is certainly going to add some girth to that group. He wasn't as "fat" as I was anticipating, so that was good.
- I did, briefly get to see some of the DB group working. Michael Carter is bigger than his recruiting pics/videos showed but he is still pretty scrawny.
I knew I wasn't going to get to really see how the new offense was going to operate and I wasn't going to get to see any big hitting 11-on-11 drills. But I got what I wanted out of the experience, I just wanted to see the size and athleticism of this year's team. Overall this team looked much stronger and athletic than we have seen in the past. As has been discussed many times this team is clearly more talented than last year but that schedule means they HAVE to be better if they want to see an improvement in the W column.
Below is video taken by the Gopher Athletic Communication staff of Friday's practice. Particularly the Oklahoma Drill. This is some good video and you get to see some hitting and aggressiveness.
The season is getting closer and closer, September 5th will be here before you know it and then just another week before we get to open The Vault.