The Spring game has come and gone. I should have my post spring game thoughts up today or tomorrow (I'm sure I'll be the last to comment on the game). I'll start Monday morning with a spattering of thoughts from the usual Gopher Media suspects...
Kent accurately points out that nobody really stood out on Saturday and there wasn't a lot to get overly excited about.
Unlike many years, there really wasn’t a stand out player, with the possible exception of linebacker Mike Rallis, who had two sacks. The quarterbacks didn’t dominate, especially late. The running backs found holes early, less so late. The defense gave up some big plays, but made some big plays too.
It was all so middle-of-the-road.
The quarterback play was what everyone was intently watching this year and at least among those in the pressbox on Saturday there is no doubt Weber is going to be the starter (and was going to be all along).
I don’t think there is any question about Adam Weber being the starter this fall. It was obvious by the amount of playing time he had with the first team Saturday. He threw 20 passes to MarQueis Gray’s seven. For Weber, it was a strange kind of mix of good and bad. There were times Saturday when Weber looked miles ahead of last year from a comfort level.
But there were also moments when he took chances and threw into coverage. Now, to be fair, there were too many drops by the receivers, which I’ll get to later. But, overall, it was a bit of a mixed bag with Weber Saturday. But I do think he’s making progress, and I do think he’ll benefit from an offense that is determined to run the ball.
Kent harps on the receivers and touches on the defense, but you should click on the link (I'm not going to copy and paste all of it).
Marcus spends a lot of time in this post talking about Gray and where he'll fit into the offense. The consensus is that Weber is the clear-cut starter but there are differing opinions on what to do with Gray. Fuller thinks he has earned the right to be the #2.
I don't think there's any question Weber will be the starter. But the harder decision for Gophers coach Tim Brewster and offensive coordinator Jeff Horton will be about Weber's backup this year. Redshirt freshman Moses Alipate was 2 of 4 for 14 yards Saturday. Even with limited reps this spring, Alipate has looked like a better pure passer than Gray. But I don't think Alipate has earned the No. 2 quarterback spot. Gray definitely has earned that distinction to this point. That means something considering he wasn't able to benefit from a redshirt year like Weber and Alipate did. He might be better off in a spread offense, but Gray should get a chance to prove himself if Weber gets hurt this year.
I don't think there's any question Weber will be the starter. But the harder decision for Gophers coach Tim Brewster and offensive coordinator Jeff Horton will be about Weber's backup this year.
Redshirt freshman Moses Alipate was 2 of 4 for 14 yards Saturday. Even with limited reps this spring, Alipate has looked like a better pure passer than Gray. But I don't think Alipate has earned the No. 2 quarterback spot.
Gray definitely has earned that distinction to this point. That means something considering he wasn't able to benefit from a redshirt year like Weber and Alipate did. He might be better off in a spread offense, but Gray should get a chance to prove himself if Weber gets hurt this year.
The player who quietly impressed on Saturday was Christyn Lewis who was playing at safety. He never really stood out but his name came up often as he was around the ball and made some nice plays.
The safety position should also be better this year with more depth. I was impressed with safeties Kenny Watkins and Christyn Lewis, who replaced Kyle Theret and Kim Royston. Lewis, who looks pretty thin, delivered a big hit on McKnight to force a dropped pass Saturday.
The defense will be a real question mark at every position this fall so to get some help from any of the new guys, like Lewis, will be huge.
Horton's thoughts on MarQueise Gray.
"MarQueis is a young quarterback and quarterback is a tough position to play," co-offensive coordinator Jeff Horton said. "My challenge to him was he wasn’t going to be just a package guy. He was going to learn the whole book, not just chapters four, five and six."
It is very early but so far I like what I've seen out of Horton. I'll talk more about this when I give my spring game recap. In all of this QB discussion the running backs seemed to be the forgotten position. I really expect to see the running game more prominent and successful this year. DeLeon Eskridge and Duane Bennett each had some success on Saturday combining for 100+ yards in the first half before struggling in the second. They played well and there are a few freshmen coming in expected to push them further.
"We’ll have an extremely competitive situation at running back, and I think it’s all very positive," Brewster said. "There’s three more young running backs that are going to come in and have an opportunity to show what they can do."
For Eskridge and Bennett, who have been in the mix for the starting spot since the beginning of last season, a competition with freshmen and potential uncertainty entering the season doesn’t seem that extraordinary.
"This is no [special] preparation for us for when the freshmen come in. We’re going to compete regardless if they were here or not," said Bennett, who carried nine times for a team-leading 55 yards. "When they come here, it’s still going to be the same … We’re still going to go to work every day."
On to other Gopher news...
- Gopher baseball took two out of three from Indiana this weekend. Game 1 was a 14-0 offensive explosion, game 2 was a loss to the Hoosiers and game 3 was a one-hitter by Phil Isaksson and Scott Matyas. The series win moved the Gophers to 6-6 in the Big Ten, tied for 5th but just a game back of first place.
- Gopher volleyball in some spring action lost to perennial national power-house Nebraska in four sets this weekend.