And here we are: Gopher fall practice begins today, and we're now less than a month from real, honest-to-goodness football taking place, when the Gophs kick off their season at USC September 3 (and if you're trying to get press credentials for that game, be prepared to sign your life away). A couple more weeks and it'll be State Fair time and then kickoff!!! And with the way this summer has been, fall can't get here fast enough- assuming we get a Fall.
Phil Miller gives five things to watch as the Kill Era begins. There's incoming freshmen (hello Tommy Olson!), a (hopefully) rebuilt defensive line and pass rush, a bigger and stronger team thanks to SC Eric Klein's new workout regiment, and just what the hell we're going to do at receiver. That position remains the biggest question mark heading into camp, as Da'Jon McKnight will be eased into things after a knee injury, giving everybody else a chance to do something- really ANYTHING- to prove there's more than just McKnight and TE Eric Lair capable of contributing in the passing game. Will true freshman Marcus Jones really start against USC? Is Brandon Green's knee finally healthy? Will JUCO transfers Ge'Shun Harris or Malcom Moulton be ready? The true freshmen? Anybody else?
Marcus Fuller also has his five things to watch, and three of the five- pass rush, QB, and receiver questions- as the same. His other two are the second and third running backs, and Troy Stoudermire's progression at CB. Quite frankly, those two are so far down my list of concerns, I'm not even sure they're concerns at all. Even with the loss of Deleon Eskridge, there's still plenty of running backs available to contribute behind Duane Bennett, so that will work itself out. As for Troy, he's proven since making the switch to corner midseason of 2010 that he's capable, and mroe importantly, that he's working hard. I trust that the coaches know what they're doing, and Troy will take care of the rest.
Andy Seeley of Gophersports.com has a couple of excellent posts in his Golden Gopher Camp blog. One of them is video of U President Eric Kaler's speech to the football team, telling them he's "their biggest fan." I fully believe Kaler will do what's best for this football program, and doesn't just want to see them succeed, but will put them in the best position to do so. And that means having an athletic director who values the Big 3 revenue sports, and makes them his top priority.
Fox Sports North will air "Gopher Undercover" starting Wednesday, August 10th after Twins Postgame Live. The four part series airing weekly every Wednesday in August goes behind the scenes with Kill and the Coaches and gives full access. It was done by 3 Penny Films, the same crew who's done an excellent job with the webisodes you've seen this spring and summer on the gophersports.com website. I'm really looking forward to these.