Joe Christensen covered Major League Baseball for 15 years, including three seasons at the Baltimore Sun and eight at the Star Tribune, before switching to the college football beat. He’s a Faribault, Minn., native who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1996. He covered Jim Wacker’s Gophers for the Minnesota Daily and also wrote about USC, UCLA and the Rose Bowl for the Riverside Press-Enterprise before getting this chance to cover football again.
Email Joe to talk about the Gophers.
What a nice day for the scrimmage. I was kind of surprised that more fans didn't show up.
Anyway, here are some thoughts after watching today's workout:
1. I think Adam Weber looked pretty good. Granted, he was going against a defense missing its top two middle linebackers and a starting safety, but he was effective, accurate and confident in his decisions. I truly belive Jeff Gorton was a great hire for Weber. Remember last year, when Jedd Fisch changed Weber's throwing motion and installed a fairly complex system? This year Horton has come in and asked Weber to think about where he's throwing the ball, now how he's throwing it. He wants Weber to throw naturally, the way he feels is best, so he doesn't have to worry about that aspect of the game. The streamlined offense should help as well.
OK, now: Here is my opinion on the QB situation. I think MarQueis Gray -- who also looked pretty good Saturday -- could be a nice college quarterback, even if he's running a traditional offense rather than the spread he appears to fit better. Having said that, I really don't believe, if he has NFL aspirations, that quarterback is his position. Conversely, how can the Gophers keep such a good player on the sidelines should Weber win the starting job (which, by the way, I'm almost certain of)? My answer: Make Gray a wide receiver permanently. He is big, fast, tall and has great hands. He's already proven he can catch the ball and who is going to be him on a jump ball in a fade route? The more I see Moses Alipate's strong arm the more I'm convinced it would be in the Gophers' best interests to start Weber, have Gray as a receiver and Alipate as the backup QB.
Again, that's only my opinion. And you all know what that's worth.
2. Speaking of receivers, who is stepping up? Troy Stoudermire made six catches today. Bryant Allen looked good until he hurt his right ankle. The Gophers have pretty darned good depth at the position, but who will emerge as the go-to guy? Still waiting.
3. Even though the running back competition will heat up this fall with the addition of three freshmen, I'd say both DeLeon Eskridge and Duane Bennett are both putting their best foot forward this spring. I really like Bennett catching the ball out of the backfield.
4. I know the defense was down a few players, but I wasn't overly impressed with the unit. The Gophers started the scrimmage strong against the run. By the end there were too many running lanes and too many open receivers.
That's about it. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.
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