U's Gray exudes confidence

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 10, 2012 - 9:12 PM

In a scrimmage, the Gophers senior quarterback displayed the accuracy and leadership he has developed since last season.

His accuracy is far more evident, and the velocity MarQueis Gray is putting on the football reflects his growing confidence. The squeals of delight are new, too.

The Gophers senior quarterback has always looked the part, but at Friday's public scrimmage, as he zipped pass after pass into the arms of seven different receivers and turned all three of his possessions into scoring drives, he acted like a confident, mature, big-time playmaker. Well, except when he shrieked like a teenage girl over the excitement of tight end Drew Goodger hurdling a tackler to pick up extra yards.

"That's just me getting energy for our guys, letting them know it's OK to celebrate once you make a big play," Gray said with a broad smile after a bravura performance before 250 or so Gophers fans in TCF Bank Stadium. "That's one of the roles I'm taking on this year."

The Gophers don't mind as long as he takes on the role of winning quarterback, too, and after an offseason of stewing about his 3-9 junior year and working to improve, Gray has never looked so primed for the challenge. He completed nine of the 12 passes he attempted Friday, according to statistics compiled by Gopher Illustrated, and threw for 155 yards. Even better, he quarterbacked the first-team offense to two touchdowns -- a 1-yard run by James Gillum and a 7-yard romp by Donnell Kirkwood -- and a field goal (34 yards by Jordan Wettstein) in his three possessions.

Gray frequently seemed to throw the ball reluctantly last year, his first as the Gophers' starter, and barely completed half his passes. He also tucked the ball away and ran more times than the coaching staff intended.

"We all know that he can pull that ball down, and he's a weapon, but if he can stay back there and hang in and throw that ball, that just opens a ton of avenues for him," offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover said. "Coach Z [quarterback coach Jim Zebrowski] has really talked to him about, hey, let's really have confidence in that [offensive] line, let's do what we need to do, and then if it doesn't happen, if [the play] breaks down, go ahead and do your thing."

He seems to like it when others do their thing, too. He completed passes of 30 yards to freshman Andre McDonald, 39 yards to A.J. Barker, and 14 yards to Jamel Harbison, and nearly connected with Marcus Jones on a ball Jones couldn't handle. Then Gray opened his third possession with a 10-yard pass to Goodger, who turned upfield to add more yardage. Two steps later, safety Derrick Wells arrived and dove at Goodger's legs. But the sophomore hurdled the would-be tackler and ended up tacking 10 extra yards onto the play.

Gray squealed a high-pitch laugh in delight, raced over to congratulate Goodger, then tapped Wells on the helmet in some good-natured ribbing. Did he know Goodger could jump that high?

"Actually, I didn't. That's why I was so shocked, and I started screaming and going crazy on the field," Gray said. He also expects to hear from his friend Wells. "He'll probably do something in the locker room," Gray said with a laugh.

A few other observations from the Gophers' final public workout before their Aug. 30 season opener at UNLV:

•The second-team offense was far less effective, and backup quarterback Max Shortell had a rough day. His first two possessions ended in fumbles, one by Shortell and one by tailback Devon Wright, and his next three resulted in punts. But Shortell remains well ahead of freshmen quarterbacks Philip Nelson and Mitch Leidner for the No. 2 spot, Limegrover said. "It's kind of like a race -- if Max slows down and doesn't keep competing, they'll catch him," Limegrover said. "But if he keeps getting better as well, he's gonna keep them at arm's length."

•Nelson completed a 66-yard touchdown bomb to Isaac Fruechte, the day's longest pass play, and hit a 12-yard score to McDonald. But he also threw an interception to Briean Boddy and fumbled a snap on fourth-and-1.

•David Cobb made the biggest play by a tailback, bursting outside on a 68-yard romp. Cobb, Gillum, Kirkwood and K.J. Maye all had success running the ball.

  • related content

  • Gophers scrimmage

  • GOPHERS FALL PRACTICES • Season opener: 10 p.m. Aug. 30 at UNLV

    gophers fall practices • Season opener: 10 p.m. Aug. 30 at UNLV
  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

NY Mets 8 FINAL
Atlanta 2
Philadelphia 3 FINAL
NY Yankees 1
Detroit 5 FINAL
Baltimore 4
Toronto 4 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Cincinnati 2 FINAL
Cleveland 4
San Diego 3 FINAL
Seattle 4
Chicago WSox 6 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Kansas City 13 FINAL
Texas 2
Oakland 9 FINAL
San Francisco 2
Wisc-Milwaukee 0 FINAL
Milwaukee 8
Arizona 6 FINAL
Colorado 3
Univ of Minnesota 1 FINAL
Minnesota 3
New York 82 FINAL
Indiana 105
Phoenix 105 FINAL
Orlando 100
Cleveland 120 FINAL
Toronto 112
Utah 84 FINAL
Boston 85
Charlotte 115 FINAL
Brooklyn 91
Denver 100 FINAL
Minnesota 85
Detroit 85 FINAL
New Orleans 88
LA Lakers 94 FINAL
Miami 100
Philadelphia 118 FINAL
Oklahoma City 123
Memphis 102 FINAL
Houston 100
Sacramento 85 FINAL
San Antonio 112
Milwaukee 93 FINAL
Golden State 102
Portland 98 FINAL
LA Clippers 93
Ottawa 3 FINAL
Winnipeg 1
NY Rangers 1 FINAL(OT)
Detroit 2
Pittsburgh 1 FINAL
Colorado 3
Montreal 1 FINAL
Anaheim 3
Longwood 65 FINAL
Presbyterian 61
Campbell 64 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 72
Liberty 70 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 80
Ohio State 77 FINAL
Penn State 67
Maine 66 FINAL
Albany 83
Duquesne 81 FINAL
Fordham 66
George Washington 67 FINAL
George Mason 51
Tennessee 78 FINAL
LSU 63
Notre Dame 71 FINAL
Louisville 59
SE Missouri St 74 FINAL
Morehead State 79
St Francis-PA 73 FINAL
Mount St Marys 58
Hartford 63 FINAL
New Hampshire 67
Wagner 68 FINAL
Robert Morris 91
Long Island 70 FINAL
St Francis-NY 79
La Salle 50 FINAL
Saint Josephs 55
Providence 79 FINAL
Seton Hall 66
UCF 45 FINAL
South Florida 74
Binghamton 57 FINAL
Stony Brook 62
UMBC 39 FINAL
Vermont 66
Sacred Heart 85 FINAL
Bryant 91
Richmond 56 FINAL
Massachusetts 53
Wake Forest 51 FINAL
Duke 94
Purdue 66 FINAL
Michigan State 72
Miami-Florida 67 FINAL
Pittsburgh 63
St Bonaventure 64 FINAL
Saint Louis 48
New Mexico St 69 FINAL
TX-Pan American 48
Houston 68 FINAL
Tulane 63
Howard 62 FINAL
NJIT 71
TCU 70 FINAL
Oklahoma State 82
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
Tulsa 47
USC 74 FINAL
UCLA 85
Miss State 56 FINAL
Vanderbilt 66
Utah State 53 FINAL
Wyoming 76
St Johns 67 FINAL
Marquette 51
SIU Edwardsville 66 FINAL
Eastern Ill 78
Air Force 66 FINAL
Fresno State 68
Nebraska 57 FINAL
Illinois 69
Colorado State 78 FINAL
Nevada 62
Boise State 68 FINAL
San Jose St 51
San Diego St 60 FINAL
UNLV 58
Oregon 65 FINAL
Oregon State 62
UC Santa Barbara 98 FINAL
Hawaii 90
Toledo 64 FINAL
Northern Ill 68
Wake Forest 69 FINAL
Boston College 53
Eastern Illinois 35 FINAL
UT Martin 68
Austin Peay 69 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 72
Virginia Tech 57 FINAL
NC State 56
Massachusetts 55 FINAL
St Bonaventure 49
Auburn 71 FINAL
Florida 49
Penn State 63 FINAL
Indiana 68
Clemson 53 FINAL
Georgia Tech 80
Davidson 63 FINAL
La Salle 74
Loyola-Maryland 46 FINAL
Lafayette 58
Boston U 48 FINAL
Colgate 58
Coll of Charleston 58 FINAL
James Madison 107
Delaware 76 FINAL
Elon 77
Drexel 58 FINAL
Northeastern 42
Hofstra 75 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 76
Towson 56 FINAL
William & Mary 68
Miami-Ohio 55 FINAL
Akron 67
Ball State 85 FINAL
Central Michigan 69
Buffalo 55 FINAL
Bowling Green 47
Western Mich 65 FINAL
Eastern Michigan 74
Ohio U 69 FINAL
Kent State 56
Youngstown St 62 FINAL
Cleveland State 73
Illinois-Chicago 54 FINAL
Wright State 74
Alabama 56 FINAL
Vanderbilt 66
Detroit 60 FINAL
Milwaukee 56
Purdue 58 FINAL
Wisconsin 56

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is doing the best job coaching a Minnesota pro sports team?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close