Are you ready for some FOOTBALLl!....Well, spring football, but it's still football. The University of Minnesota Golden Gophers are nearing the end of their spring football practice. I was lucky enough to make it out to practice earlier this week and will share with you some of my observations but first I'm going to give you the remaining schedule and some of the better article links that have covered the Gophers over the last few days.
There are 3 practices plus the spring game left, all open to the general public at no cost. The 3 practices are all scheduled to be held at Gibson-Nagurski, but don't be surprised if one or more get moved to TCF with very little notice. The spring game will of course be held at TCF, hopefully we will have a decent crowd. I belie
- Saturday, April 4th, 9:50 AM
- Tuesday, April 7th, 4:15 PM
- Thursday, April 9th, 4:15 PM
- Saturday, April 11th, 3:00 PM - SPRING GAME !!!
The Spring game will also be broadcast on BTN but I couldn't find any solid information about the timeslot.
- Spring Practice 2015: Secondary Preview
- Spring Practice 2015: Quarterbacks Review
- Spring Practice 2015: Defensive Line Preview
Please welcome the @RollingStones to TCF Bank Stadium this summer! http://t.co/FsZpjwAbkU pic.twitter.com/pPuCPWl6V8— Minnesota Gophers (@GopherSports) March 31, 2015
- Star Tribune (Joe Christensen) - Clayes sees Myrick, Rogers as Options at Critical Nickel spot; Trumpets Thompson's NFL Upside
- Star Tribune (Joe Christensen) - Gophers Playing Jones at Slotback Frequently to Fill Need
- Star Tribune (Joe Christensen) - Longtime Pals from Georgia Together Again with Gophers Football
- FSN (Taylor Mason) - Gophers Punter Mortell is all Business on Field, all Comedian on Twitter
- FSN (Taylor Mason) - Gophers Safety Travis has Laser-Locked Focus heading into Senior Campaign
- Pioneer Press (Andy Greder) - Rodrick Williams a Smaller ‘Nugget' Seeking Bigger Role
- ESPN (Josh Moyer) - B1G Shoes to Fill: Minnesota
- ESPN (Austin Ward) - Legend of Mitch Leidner's Toughness Grows
- ESPN (Austin Ward) - Minnesota's De'Vondre Campbell can't help but Think About TCU Rematch
Lastly let me share a link to another Gopher blog, Gopherhole. Don't worry; it's for a good cause.
Observations from Spring Practice - Tuesday, March 31st
This Tuesday was a perfect day to watch a football practice, it was warm and sunny so the Gophers practiced outside. A decent and varied crowd was watching the practice and it included Phillip Howard who committed to the Gophers at the end of practice. I noticed several things at practice and will share some of it with you bellow.
One thing I didn't notice at first was Jerry Kill....because he wasn't yelling at anyone. This has been a trend in the Jerry Kill era; in year one he yelled a lot, but he has had less and less need to every year. Eventually he did find the need to yell, but not for long. The next thing I noticed that ties to Jerry Kill was the efficiency of the practices. Things run on a clock and the students/coaches know where they are supposed to be and what they are supposed to be doing. At one point Jerry didn't like where a coach had the line backers lining up for a passing drill so told a coach to move them to a better place because it would "save a heck of a lot of time." He wanted to move them so they could run more reps. Efficient.
Running backs look good with Berkley Edwards, Rodney Smith, and Rodrick Williams Jr. all having some nice runs. Jeff Jones look good to but was splitting time with the wide receivers. Speaking of receivers, it's hard not to notice how much taller they are now from just a year ago. Height isn't everything though as perhaps the best catch I saw was by the only senior on next year's WR roster, 5'10" KJ Maye. Besides the catch, he showed some cut cuts. Overall, despite being very young, I think our WR corps is going to be improved over this year, especially if Maye and Wolitarsky stay healthy.
The tight ends have a lot of potential and for the most part matched up well against the linebackers. The TE I focused on the most was the very tall Nate Wozniak. He dropped some but mostly caught them but seems to need to work on his balance with cuts. He made Campbell bite on a cut only to seemingly trip up on himself a few steps later, ultimately missing the ball. Work in progress but he was the potential to be a great asset.
In general I think the defense looked better than the offense, but the first team offense did fine, one series in particular I noticed that Mitch Liedner did a very good job leading the offense in a hurry up drill. I noticed interceptions thrown by Liedner, Streveler, & Perra. The Perra (I think) interception stood out as it hit LB Poock in the numbers with no one around him (Poock). Poock let it bounce off of his chest and then easily caught it. Another interception that stood out was a ball that was tipped at least 3 times with Alexander Starks (DB) ending up with the ball on a diving interception.
Lastly I'll talk about punting. Mortell (except on one bad snap) was consistent and we are in good hands next year for his final season. The freshman I saw needs some work, but Santoso, who punted in high school, was the crowd pleaser. His punts had huge height and long distance but I don't know about accuracy (all but one looked good in practice but I don't know what the coaches were asking for).
The Gophers have things to work on, such as center depth (I saw several botched snaps) and of course the passing game in general, but this is SPRING practice so that's not a surprise. In general I feel very hopeful for next year. Our defensive backfield looks good. Our running backs look good. Mitch Leidner looks comfortable both in the pocket and running when he needs to. Don't take my word for it, come out to a practice or the spring game and see for yourself.
Go GOPHER! SKI-U-MAH!