I focused most of my Gophers spring game coverage on the offense, but one thing that stood out to me in watching the tape was the secondary.
Quarterbacks coach Jim Zebrowski had referenced it during a postgame interview. “Our secondary’s pretty darn good,” he said. “So it’s good for our young receivers to go against those DB’s. They’re not going to get a lot of separation all the time.”
The coaches kept most members of the first-team defense out of the scrimmage, but the healthy members of that unit lined up for the pass-shell drill during warm-ups.
- Briean Boddy-Calhoun, who tore an ACL last season in the second game, was lined up at starting cornerback, opposite Eric Murray. Boddy-Calhoun obviously has his speed and agility back, even if the coaches kept him from contact drills this spring. The junior showed it with an interception during that pass-shell drill (not sure who threw it), but that was as telling as anything that happened Saturday. Keep in mind: the coaches felt Boddy-Calhoun was playing the best of all their cornerbacks before he got injured.
- Jalen Myric got a ton of reps this spring, opposite Murray, with Boddy-Calhoun and Derrick Wells (shoulder surgery) both coming back from their respective injuries. Myric picked off Mitch Leidner during the scrimmage with a tremendous play. Drew Wolitarsky appeared to have a couple steps on Myric, but the sophomore DB closed quickly. He pushed off on Wolitarsky, subtly enough to get away with it, then changed his direction just enough to reach up and get the ball.
- Marcus Jones is more than just a kick returner. He had a terrific day at cornerback. Leidner slightly underthrew a pass to Wolitarsky in the end zone, and Jones broke it up. Jones finished with 5 1/2 tackles, too. He’s listed at 5-8, 166 pounds, but he is absolutely fearless out there.
Bottom line: The Gophers should be loaded at cornerback this fall, which will only help them in nickel and dime packages. They’ll face a lot of spread offenses, and that secondary depth is key. I expect Murray and Boddy-Calhoun to be the two starters, with Wells as the primary nickel back, if he is indeed healthy. Myric, Jones and Steven Montgomery will all fill in.