Sid Hartman: Brewster satisfied with spring practice

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 8, 2007 - 11:41 PM

The new Gophers football coach was pleased with what he saw on both offense and defense. Now he needs to figure out who will be his quarterback.

After spending time Sunday studying the videotape of Saturday's spring game, new Gophers football coach Tim Brewster said he was satisfied with what the squad accomplished.

'"I thought yesterday was a culmination of a great first spring here at the U," Brewster said Sunday. "I thought the quarterbacks handled themselves very, very well. I thought we did some things solid on defense -- we did not do all our blitz looks, all the different things defensively -- but I thought that those guys did a nice job just playing good, hard, solid defense."

Brewster made it clear that as a coach, he doesn't believe in platooning quarterbacks and that right now, Tony Mortensen and Adam Weber are battling for the starting job.

"Mortensen is a solid guy, has a calmness under duress that experience allows him to have," Brewster said. "He's been around for a little while, and experience is very important at that position. He has a grasp of where he wants to go with the ball, so you know, Tony's been very, very solid; he's done a better job with his feet than I thought he was capable of doing."

Brewster does like the all-around athletic ability of Weber, who was redshirted last season as a freshman, so he doesn't have even the limited experience of Mortensen, who played in six games in 2005 and three last year.

"Adam Weber is a young guy who's got tremendous talents, I was really pleased for Adam. He completed some balls," Brewster said. "I just sensed there was a little bit more calmness about Adam. Everybody knows Adam's athleticism is excellent. One of the great hidden stats in football today is a quarterback's ability to get first downs with their feet.

"When the pocket breaks down, when defensive pressure comes, can the quarterback go get a first down with his feet? We're looking for a guy that can do that. You can't have a guy that's a statue in the pocket and can't go get you a first down."

Brewster sang the praises of center Tony Brinkhaus and said he is happy with the offensive line. Brinkhaus will have some minor surgery on his ankle this week. Among other offensive linemen, Brewster said that he is looking forward to getting Steve Shidell, who had surgery on a foot and missed spring practice; that Dominic Alford has a chance to be very good, even though he didn't finish the spring as strong as he started; and that Ned Tavale has had a good spring.

Defensively, Brewster said the depth of the line might be the unit's strength, and he liked what linebackers Mike Sherels, John Shevlin and Steve Davis showed this spring. Brewster expects some help from some of the junior college transfers and seemed satisfied overall with the progress of the defense.

Among defensive backs, Dominic Barber was impressive with four solo and three assisted tackles in the spring game, and fellow safety Jamal Harris had three solo tackles and intercepted a pass.

How good is this team? We won't know a thing until it has played a game or two.

Background a problem

The fact that Jimmy Williams was a member of Bill Musselman's Gophers men's basketball coaching staff from 1971 to '75 -- a period when the NCAA later found the school guilty of a number of violations -- might cost Williams a chance to be on Tubby Smith's Gophers coaching staff.

After Musselman left to coach in the pros in 1975, Williams stayed on with the Gophers as an assistant under Jim Dutcher. Williams was with the Gophers from 1971 to 1986, becoming the head coach for the final 11 games of the 1985-86 season after Dutcher resigned.

Since then, he has been an assistant at Tulsa, San Diego State, Nebraska, Oklahoma State and Louisiana-Monroe, as well as in the NBA with the Timberwolves and Golden State. He had been with Oklahoma State from 2004 to last week, when he resigned, apparently to take the Gophers job. None of those schools had any NCAA violations during the time he was there.

However, University of Minnesota officials are always concerned about potential NCAA trouble, considering what happened under both Musselman and Clem Haskins.

Reached Sunday, Gophers athletic director Joel Maturi said, "I haven't talked to Tubby in the last couple of days." But when asked if Williams' work here under Musselman period was a problem, he said it was a concern.

Apparently, Smith was looking for an assistant coach with Minnesota connections. Williams also has a daughter attending the University of Minnesota.

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