The Gophers' fall camp is over. Today they begin working towards facing UNLV next Thursday.
There's no practice for the football team today, but meetings this afternoon will include scouting reports and videotape of the Rebels, and an introduction of the gameplan for Thursday night's season opener in Las Vegas. A normal game week of practices will begin Saturday.
"We've been practicing a mass of people to get prepared" for the season, coach Jerry Kill said, "and now we've got to close that down a little bit to get repetitions" for the starters and backups who will play next week.
Given how young the Gophers are this year -- and it's "maybe the youngest team I've coached in 30 years, next to my second year at Southern Illinois," Kill said -- the coaching staff was tempted to keep practicing all the newcomers, and keep pushing the veterans. But Kill said he recognized the signs of a weary team this week, and decided to back off. Thursday's scheduled full-pads practice was scaled back to a walk-through, essentially giving the team two days of rest before Saturday.
"I felt it was critical. Mentally, we got some work done, but I didn't want to run them," Kill said. "So this allows them to get their legs back, and gives (the coaches) time to make sure we can finalize everything," including the depth chart and game plan. "You sometimes have a tendency to keep pushing, but you can't play with a team that's not going to play fast," he explained.
The coaches had been emphasizing some elements that will be part of the gameplan against the Rebels, Kill said, so they've got a head start on preparations. But now it gets real.
Kill said the new offensive linemen "have been outstanding. But we'd like to redshirt those kids. ... Hopefully we can stay healthy enough to do that. A year ago, we may (have been playing) all three of those guys."
He also complemented junior receiver A.J. Barker as "maybe the surprise of camp." The De La Salle graduate "had a great camp," Kill said. "People don't realize how good an athlete he is. But he hasn't been healthy since I've been here. He's been hamstringed up."