Toughness, physical play highlight Gophers scrimmage

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 15, 2013 - 12:34 AM

The defense handled the first-team offense in Friday’s scrimmage, showing Jerry Kill’s “mindest of toughness.”

hide

Gophers coach Jerry Kill, shown watching quarterback Philip Nelson earlier in spring practice, saw Nelson have some early difficulty against the first-team defense during Friday night’s scrimmage, but Kill said he had no second thoughts about removing Nelson’s redshirt tag last season.

Photo: JEFF WHEELER jeff.wheeler@ startribune.com ,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

 

Gophers coach Jerry Kill gathers his players for a meeting before each spring practice and delivers what he calls “The Daily News.”

He shows some quick video clips of the most recent practice, pointing out the good news and the bad. Then he establishes a word for the day. On Thursday, that word was toughness.

Kill opened the recent book “Toughness,” by ESPN basketball analyst Jay Bilas, and highlighted 12 quotes.

“As soon as spring ball ends, we’re bringing some special-forces people to help us,” Kill told reporters later that day. “So we’re going to do whatever it takes to get better. We have to develop a mindset here of toughness.”

The Gophers showed it Friday night in a spirited scrimmage at the Bierman indoor facility, where they’ve been cooped up for all nine spring practices. The first-team defense held the first-team offense without a first down twice, and redshirt freshman quarterback Mitch Leidner led the second-teamers on two quick touchdown drives.

Sophomore quarterback Philip Nelson eventually got the first-team offense moving, but what stood out to the coaches was everyone’s tenacity.

“This has been more physical, definitely, than the first two springs we were here by a long shot,” offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover said.

With five more practices remaining before the annual spring game, on April 27, the Gophers know plenty of work remains, but there is no mistaking the growing optimism for a team that finished 3-9 and 6-7 in Kill’s first two seasons.

In a Big Ten teleconference Wednesday, a Nebraska reporter asked senior safety Brock Vereen how far away the Gophers were from becoming a factor in the Legends Division.

“I think we are closer than a lot of people think,” Vereen said. “If you look back to last season, a lot of those games were unfortunately lost in the fourth quarter. ... It’s about pushing through, which is something we learned the hard way. So we still have that chip on our shoulder of a three-win team [from 2011], but I think we’re going to shock some people this year.”

Three weeks into camp, here’s a sampling of the highlights:

Biggest surprise

Eric Murray has emerged as a starting cornerback after playing mostly on special teams last season. The 6-0, 194-pound sophomore from Milwaukee leapfrogged three cornerbacks who played important minutes last season after transferring from junior college — Martez Shabazz, Jeremy Baltazar and Briean Boddy.

“I think Eric Murray is a guy who a lot of people may not know about right now, but at the end of the season they will,” Vereen said.

Top offensive performer

Leidner outplayed Nelson in Friday’s scrimmage, but Nelson has had the better overall camp after starting the final seven games last year.

“You always get questions as a coach when you pull a redshirt off a kid,” Kill said. “But I think it’s proved out to be smart that we did that [with Nelson] because the experience he gained during the season — which was sometimes great experience and sometimes very difficult — has allowed him to be much more comfortable here in spring ball.”

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Cincinnati - LP: M. Latos 4 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: B. Norris 5
Boston - WP: J. Kelly 9 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: S. Greene 4
Detroit - WP: P. Coke 4 FINAL
Cleveland - LP: C. Allen 2
NY Mets - WP: J. Niese 8 FINAL
Miami - LP: B. Penny 6
Philadelphia - WP: K. Kendrick 4 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: M. Minor 0
Toronto - WP: R. Dickey 8 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: J. Hellickson 2
Milwaukee - LP: Y. Gallardo 1 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Arrieta 7
LA Angels - LP: C. Wilson 3 FINAL
Houston - WP: B. Peacock 8
Chicago WSox - WP: D. Webb 6 FINAL
Minnesota - LP: L. Oliveros 3
Texas - LP: M. Kirkman 1 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: J. Frasor 2
Pittsburgh - LP: J. Locke 4 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: A. Wainwright 6
San Francisco - WP: G. Kontos 12 FINAL
Colorado - LP: M. Belisle 7
Seattle - WP: J. Paxton 6 FINAL
Oakland - LP: S. Gray 5
Washington - LP: D. Fister 1 FINAL
Los Angeles - WP: C. Kershaw 4
Arizona - LP: B. Ziegler 1 FINAL
San Diego - WP: K. Quackenbush 2
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
Buffalo 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
New Orleans 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta
Minnesota 9/7/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Cleveland 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Jacksonville 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Oakland 9/7/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
Cincinnati 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Washington 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Tennessee 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
New England 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Carolina 9/7/14 3:25 PM
Tampa Bay
San Francisco 9/7/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Indianapolis 9/7/14 7:30 PM
Denver
NY Giants 9/8/14 6:10 PM
Detroit
San Diego 9/8/14 9:20 PM
Arizona
Miami-Florida 13 FINAL
(25) Louisville 31
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
SMU 9/6/14 11:00 AM
North Texas
Fla Atlantic 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Army
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Toledo
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
(7) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(19) Nebraska
Central Mich 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Akron 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Western Ill 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(18) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
(4) Oklahoma 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tulsa
Western Ky 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
SC State 9/6/14 11:30 AM
(23) Clemson
Navy 9/6/14 12:00 PM
Temple
UAB 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Miss State
South Alabama 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Kent State
New Mexico St 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Fresno State 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Utah
(2) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Washington
(14) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(13) Stanford
Ohio U 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Middle Tennessee 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Northern Ill 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Missouri State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Ball State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Iowa
Maryland 9/6/14 2:30 PM
So Florida
Eastern Mich 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Florida
Georgia Tech 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Tulane
(15) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Vanderbilt
Old Dominion 9/6/14 5:00 PM
NC State
(7) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(17) Arizona State 9/6/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico
Louisiana Tech 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
San Jose St 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(21) So Carolina
Duke 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Troy
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(15) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(12) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(16) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(9) Texas A&M
Northwestern St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Citadel 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(1) Florida State
San Diego St 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(21) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(8) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(11) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Texas Tech 9/6/14 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Toronto 12 FINAL
Hamilton 13
Edmonton 13 FINAL
Calgary 28
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Winnipeg
Minnesota 78 FINAL
Phoenix 96

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How many games will the Vikings win this season?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

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

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close