Only a little more than 3 months until fall practices start. Sigh...
I finally had a chance to view the Spring Game off of the DVR last night. And let me tell you, I'm pretty bummed I wasn't able to attend in person. From what folks have told me, it sounds like you couldn't have asked for a better day. Sure, the Spring Game didn't result in the unveiling of any trick plays or completely radical formation changes. But there were still some pleasant surprises and things to feel good about coming off the final outing of the spring season.
Things I Liked:
- The #1 thing I liked about the Spring Game is that the U seems to have done a nice job of turning it into an event in it's first year as a true game. The addition of the alumni flag football game was a very nice touch, as was the equipment sale (seriously, the deals they run at these are simply fantastic). Added on to the normal things like autograph sessions and open tailgate lots and it created a full and enjoyable day for fans of all ages. Also, it sounds like the event was half football and half marketing the program, which is exactly what the U needs to be doing all the time.
- Mankato Jesus displays accuracy and good decision making. As with all the positive comments I'll put forth about a specific player's performance, the usual caveats (it's early, playing against your own team's 2nd unit, less pressure than a real game, etc) should be kept in mind. That said, Phil started 10 for 10 and and finished 13 of 17 for 179 yards plus 45 yards rushing (a total that would have been higher in real life given the "down by touch" rules the QB's played under). That level of accuracy is nice to see, as this is the time of year we typically see a Gopher QB struggle with his touch, leaving us a summer of "don't worry he'll improve" or "MOVE HIM TO WR ALREADY!" talk. Also notable? No interceptions and no throws that made me cringe (another unique experience when watching a Gopher QB).
- The running backs looked solid. So hard to tell what that will mean long term, but the returning RB's played in a way that doesn't make me toss and turn at night from worry.
- The continued appearance of the TE's in the receiving game. I know coming in Kill and Limegrover's MO was to use the TE's almost exclusively as blockers, but I'm really wondering if we'll ever see that style return given the success our tight ends have had in the past and the solid pass catching the current unit showed in the Spring Game.
- Speaking of Limegrover, I love the bearded look. That plus all of his hard work paying off in continued weight loss might make him a stranger to folks who haven't seen him in a few years.
- No injuries to major players. RB Cole Banham's high ankle sprain is the only reported injury.
- RaSheed Hageman sitting out. Anytime you can hear the coaches say they're holding a key player out because they know what he can do and that he doesn't need the reps to get ready so why risk injury...that's a good thing.
- Gopher fans. The reported (though likely inflated) attendance count was 8400. That's higher than any recent Spring Game (whose #'s would be similarily inflated) and seems to match pretty closely to the estimates I got from folks who attended.
- Andre McDonald being on the sidelines. While he is not currently enrolled at the U (b/c of a personal matter according to the STrib), the fact that he is still a part of the program is a positive sign. His return cannot be counted on as a sure thing, but I'd rather seen hopeful signs like this than never seeing him around.
Things I Disliked:
- Seriously, we have to wait until August for more Gopher football? BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
- That's it. I don't feel like finding negatives after a good event.