MUST READ ALERT: MarQueis Gray is a different player than he was a year ago and it is obvious to anyone watching this spring. After watching himself last season, particularly the early games, he can understand why people were questioning his future a the Gopher's starting QB.
"When I look at the footage from last year from start to finish, I'm like, 'Oh my God, I was horrible,'" MarQueis Gray admitted Thursday after another polished and precise practice. "I see why everyone was second-guessing me. ... Missing open guys, missing reads, turning the ball over -- I thought, 'Oh, man, that's not what I'm capable of.'"
This offseason he has worked incredibly hard to better his game and prepare himself for 2012. He is aiming for 60% completions this year after barely completing 50% last year.
He has thrown thousands of passes since the season ended, with emphasis on smoothing out his mechanics, and now appears to be a much more effective passer.
His spiral is dramatically tighter, the rotation on the ball noticeably smoother. Gray's technique in 2011, his first season as a full-time quarterback in four years, frequently appeared hesitant, as though he was gingerly tossing the ball and hoping for the best. Today, he seems decisive, zipping the ball where he wants it to go.
"You can tell he's thrown the ball a lot. He's been accurate all spring," coach Jerry Kill said. "He's been on target most of the time, setting his feet [correctly]. We blitzed him, and he's been able to know where to go with the ball. You can tell he's much more comfortable about what he's doing than he was a year ago."
The Phil Miller article also goes into his maturation as a player, man and father. This is a great feature on Gray and a must read. Coach Kill knows this is Gray's team and he is going to need some help.
"MarQueis is good -- we've got to get everybody else to step it up around him."
- Phillip Nelson is also looking fairly comfortable throwing the ball around at spring practices. He was led to believe he will either be starting this fall, if he were to beat out Gray, or he'll redshirt and then be given four years to earn the starting job.
- John Rabe is becoming a favorite target in the passing game. This offense is really going to be interesting to watch this season.
- SB Nation has a list of the top 10 returning underclassmen. Trevor Mbakwe makes the list just outside of the top 10.
- Ohio State basketball is losing a couple of underclassmen to transfer. I wonder what kind of restrictions they had placed on them for potential new schools.
- The Jarrod Uthoff transfer and Bo Ryan's subsequent handling of it has been rather amusing.
- Marcus Fuller has a good article on Tyus Jones and how the Gopher coaching situation, or any coaching situation for that matter, is a factor in his college decision.
- Don Lucia is pleased with this past season and is looking forward to next.
- Nick Bjugstad will make his decision whether or not to go pro when the semester is over. Were he to come back he would have to be on the short list for potential Hobey Baker winners and the Gophers should be a top 2 or 3 team heading into the season. Erik Haula will be returning.
- Gophers are currently 9th in the Director's Cup rankings. Insert Joel Maturi joke here, but this is a nice accomplishment and shows a strong athletic department. If we could just get football and basketball to catch up.
- Gopher Men's Gymnastics are ranked 5th nationally and are competing in the NCAA Championships this weekend.