Five things to watch as the Kill Era begins

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 9, 2011 - 12:34 AM
hide

Gophers coach Jerry Kill watching MarQueis Gray in the spring.

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

There's no easing into the football season under Jerry Kill.

The Gophers open their first fall training camp under their new coach Monday, and they will do it at a full sprint, in a style that Kill described recently as "controlled chaos."

Three sets of offensive players will huddle up at once, three corresponding units of defensive players will do the same, and practices will proceed at a never-stop-moving sort of pace.

"You learn a lot more by doing something than by standing and watching," Kill said. "We'll get everyone moving, then look at the film later."

Amid the commotion, five factors will be especially worth watching for as the 105 members of the Gophers prepare for their Sept. 3 debut at USC.

1 The welcome mat

Roughly two dozen new Gophers players will take part in their first practice, most of them freshmen who signed on in February. A few of them should draw attention early, particularly the quarterbacks. Max Shortell, a 6-6 Kansan, and Dexter Foreman, a run-pass threat from Texas, will join three holdovers in a scramble for backup duty behind MarQueis Gray.

The Gophers will also get their first on-field look at Tommy Olson, their top-rated offensive-line recruit and brother of starting left tackle Ed Olson, along with twins Kyle and Luke McAvoy, offensive linemen from Bloomington, Ill. And wide receiver Malcolm Moulton, a transfer from Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College, will try to add depth to the Gophers' thinnest position.

2 Bigger and stronger?

Eric Klein, the assistant coach who oversees the Gophers' workout program, has been called "the reason for my success" by coach Jerry Kill, and after working with his new players for seven months, there is reason to believe his efforts are having an effect.

Exhibit A is Gray, the junior quarterback who played at 225 pounds last year but said last week he is up to 245 pounds thanks to Klein's program. That's big for a quarterback, but Gray figures to need some bulk to absorb the pounding he will likely take as a scrambler.

As for the rest of the roster, Kill, whose contact with players is limited by NCAA rule during the summer, says he has received good reports from Klein. But it's impossible to know for sure until they take the field.

"Did they put the work in this summer? Did they do what they needed to do in the weight room, [and] conditioningwise?" Kill said. "I challenged them at the end of the spring that they had to be a lot better. Hopefully, they've done their work."

3 Rebuilding the rush

The Gophers' nine sacks last season were the fewest by any FBS team, and Kill's defensive coordinator, Tracy Claeys, has made beefing up that total one of his priorities. How he will do so should start becoming clear this month, but linebacker Mike Rallis said he is encouraged that the defensive line will get more help from behind.

"The main thing is, this staff isn't going to pigeon-hole guys into one thing. They're going to mix it up, put different guys in position to make plays," said Rallis, who has been doing speed work this summer in preparation. "If everyone can blitz, the offense doesn't know who's coming."

Three starters return on the defensive line, including Anthony Jacobs, whose two sacks in 2010 are the most on the roster. But the linebacking corps, with six players who have received extensive playing time, should be the strength of the defense. Rallis expects the pass rush to reflect that.

"It's going to be an exciting defense to play, and exciting to watch," he said. "I think we'll bring a lot more penetration, and get upfield to disrupt thing as opposed to just trying to control our gaps."

4 Catching up

The Gophers have three pass-catchers who averaged more than 40 receiving yards last season. Trouble is, one is a tight end (Eric Lair), one is now the quarterback (Gray) and one is coming off a knee injury, albeit minor, in the spring (Da'Jon McKnight). So wide receiver is understandably one of the Gophers' biggest concerns of fall workouts.

Junior Brandon Green caught 42 passes over two seasons before a knee injury wiped out his 2010 season, so he could make an impact if his knee is sound. Kill brought in Ge'Shun Harris, who took part in spring drills, and Moulton from junior colleges, but the coach has said he normally expects transfers to need a year to acclimate before they're ready to make a difference.

On the other hand, Marcus Jones, a true freshman from North Carolina, seems to be a quick study. He received extensive work at slot receiver in the spring, and Kill seems open to giving him playing time before his 18th birthday.

5 Gray area

The other areas are important, but few doubt that the Gophers' season depends upon Gray's ability to blossom into a Big Ten-caliber quarterback. Gray has done all the workouts and film study, but Kill said he's interested in learning whether the 20-year-old Indianapolis native is ready to take over leadership of the team, too.

"He was one of the guys in the huddle [last year], but now it's his huddle and he has to change. He has to be in charge, and that changes relationships," Kill said late last month. "He worked on that in the spring, and I know he's worked on being a leader this summer, organizing [workouts] and so forth. But it's something that you can't just talk about, you have to do it, and so we'll see."

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Cleveland 12:00 PM
Atlanta
Tennessee 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Detroit 12:00 PM
New England
Green Bay 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Jacksonville 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Cincinnati 12:00 PM
Houston
Tampa Bay 12:00 PM
Chicago
Arizona 3:05 PM
Seattle
St. Louis 3:05 PM
San Diego
Miami 3:25 PM
Denver
Washington 3:25 PM
San Francisco
Dallas 7:30 PM
NY Giants
NY Jets 11/24/14 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Baltimore 11/24/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 11/27/14 11:30 AM
Detroit
Philadelphia 11/27/14 3:30 PM
Dallas
Seattle 11/27/14 7:30 PM
San Francisco
LA Clippers 5:00 PM
Memphis
Portland 5:00 PM
Boston
Charlotte 5:00 PM
Miami
Golden State 6:00 PM
Oklahoma City
Denver 8:30 PM
LA Lakers
St. Louis 3:30 PM
Winnipeg
Montreal 6:00 PM
NY Rangers
Arizona 7:00 PM
Anaheim
Chicago 8:30 PM
Vancouver
Coll of Charleston 10:30 AM
George Mason
Massachusetts 11:00 AM
Florida State
Youngstown St 11:00 AM
UNC Greensboro
Wofford 11:00 AM
Sam Houston St
Ark-Pine Bluff 11:30 AM
Central Mich
Southern Ill 12:00 PM
Ill-Chicago
Drexel 12:30 PM
Cornell
American Univ 12:30 PM
Morehead State
CS-Northridge 1:00 PM
Ark-Little Rock
Bethune-Cookman 1:00 PM
Central Conn St
South Dakota 1:00 PM
Fairfield
Columbia 1:00 PM
Lehigh
Texas A&M 1:00 PM
New Mexico
TX A&M-CC 1:00 PM
Saint Louis
Merchant Marine 1:00 PM
Stony Brook
Longwood 1:30 PM
Eastern Mich
Providence 1:30 PM
Notre Dame
Jackson State 2:00 PM
UAB
Coppin State 2:00 PM
Denver
Northwestern St 2:00 PM
Oklahoma
Catawba 2:00 PM
Radford
Newman 2:00 PM
Wichita State
Yale 2:30 PM
Kent State
USC 2:30 PM
Penn State
St Katherine 3:00 PM
UC Riverside
NC Central 3:00 PM
Creighton
South Florida 3:00 PM
NC State
Nichols College 3:05 PM
Holy Cross
Dayton 3:30 PM
Boston College
Wagner 3:30 PM
Hofstra
Towson 3:30 PM
Monmouth
UMKC 3:30 PM
Samford
NC A&T 4:00 PM
Bradley
Eastern Ill 4:00 PM
Cincinnati
Fla Atlantic 4:00 PM
Georgia
Presbyterian 4:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
St Francis-NY 4:00 PM
Rutgers
Binghamton 4:30 PM
Navy
USC Upstate 5:00 PM
UCF
UMass Lowell 5:00 PM
Fordham
Montana State 5:00 PM
Kentucky
Iona 5:00 PM
North Texas
Gardner-Webb 5:00 PM
Seton Hall
Akron 5:30 PM
South Carolina
Connecticut 5:30 PM
West Virginia
Hood College 6:00 PM
Howard
Sacred Heart 6:00 PM
Ohio State
Tennessee St 6:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Delaware 6:00 PM
CS-Bakersfield
Mercer 7:00 PM
Colorado State
SD Christian 7:00 PM
Loyola Marymount
Northern Ariz 7:00 PM
Ole Miss
Manhattan 7:00 PM
Northeastern
Pacific 7:00 PM
Washington
Miami-Florida 8:00 PM
Charlotte
Old Dominion 8:00 PM
Illinois State
UC Irvine 8:00 PM
St Marys-CA
Long Beach State 9:00 PM
UCLA
Montana 9:30 PM
Seattle
Kent State 0 Cancelled
Buffalo 0
Texas-El Paso 13 FINAL
Rice 31
Air Force 14 FINAL
San Diego St 30
San Jose St 7 FINAL
Utah State 41
Char Southern 9 FINAL
(9) Georgia 55
South Alabama 12 FINAL
So Carolina 37
Rutgers 3 FINAL
(10) Michigan State 45
Minnesota 28 FINAL
(21) Nebraska 24
Northwestern 38 FINAL
Purdue 14
(18) Marshall 23 FINAL
UAB 18
Kansas 7 FINAL
(23) Oklahoma 44
Indiana 27 FINAL
(7) Ohio State 42
Penn State 14 FINAL
Illinois 16
(16) Eastern Ky 3 FINAL
Florida 52
TX-San Antonio 7 FINAL
Western Ky 45
SMU 7 FINAL
UCF 53
Tulsa 28 FINAL
Houston 38
Virginia Tech 3 FINAL
Wake Forest 6
Washington St 31 FINAL
(13) Arizona State 52
Louisiana Tech 27 FINAL
Old Dominion 30
Western Mich 32 FINAL
Central Mich 20
New Mexico 20 FINAL
(22) Colorado State 58
Eastern Mich 30 FINAL
Ball State 45
Appalachian St 35 FINAL
Louisiana 16
(15) Arizona 42 FINAL
(20) Utah 10
FIU 14 FINAL
North Texas 17
(8) Ole Miss 0 FINAL
Arkansas 30
Louisville 31 FINAL
Notre Dame 28
Maryland 23 FINAL
Michigan 16
Texas Tech 34 FINAL
Iowa State 31
(14) Wisconsin 26 FINAL
Iowa 24
Syracuse 7 FINAL
Pittsburgh 30
Boston College 17 FINAL
(1) Florida State 20
Georgia State 0 FINAL
Clemson 28
Tulane 6 FINAL
East Carolina 34
Stanford 38 FINAL
California 17
Western Carolina 14 FINAL
(2) Alabama 48
ULM 30 FINAL
New Mexico St 17
So Florida 20 FINAL
Memphis 31
Colorado 10 FINAL
(3) Oregon 44
Fla Atlantic 34 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 35
Samford 7 FINAL
(16) Auburn 31
Miami-Florida 13 FINAL
Virginia 30
Vanderbilt 0 FINAL
(4) Miss State 51
(19) Missouri 29 FINAL
Tennessee 21
Oklahoma State 28 FINAL
(6) Baylor 49
(24) USC 20 FINAL
(11) UCLA 38
Cincinnati 41 FINAL
Connecticut 0
Boise State 63 FINAL
Wyoming 14
Oregon State 13 FINAL
Washington 37
Fresno State 40 FINAL
Nevada 20
UNLV 35 FINAL
Hawaii 37
Ohio U 11/25/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Ohio
LSU 11/27/14 6:30 PM
Texas A&M
(5) TCU 11/27/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Northern Ill 11/28/14 10:00 AM
Western Mich
(21) Nebraska 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
Western Ky 11/28/14 11:00 AM
(18) Marshall
UCF 11/28/14 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11/28/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Akron 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Massachusetts
Toledo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 11/28/14 1:30 PM
(19) Missouri
Navy 11/28/14 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(15) Arizona
Stanford 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(11) UCLA
(22) Colorado State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 11/28/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 11/28/14 7:30 PM
Tulsa
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(17) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(9) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Indiana
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Northwestern
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Temple
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Troy
(20) Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(8) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(24) USC
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(6) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Maryland
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(12) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
California
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
(25) Duke
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
(16) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UNLV
New England 12:30 PM
Red Bull New York
Seattle 4:00 PM
Los Angeles
Montreal 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 3:30 PM
Calgary
Alabama 11:30 AM
Temple
Massachusetts 12:00 PM
Florida State
Creighton 12:00 PM
(1) Connecticut
Bryant 12:00 PM
Boston College
Robert Morris 12:00 PM
UMBC
Sacred Heart 12:00 PM
Maine
Virginia Tech 12:00 PM
Providence
Coll of Charleston 1:00 PM
George Mason
Hartford 1:00 PM
Lafayette
William & Mary 1:00 PM
High Point
Western Ill 1:00 PM
Florida Atlantic
Pittsburgh 1:00 PM
James Madison
Toledo 1:00 PM
(24) Purdue
Western Mich 1:00 PM
Michigan
Cleveland State 1:00 PM
FIU
San Diego State 1:00 PM
(2) South Carolina
Mount St Marys 1:00 PM
Davidson
IUPUI 1:00 PM
(15) Michigan State
Illinois State 1:00 PM
Colorado State
Incarnate Word 1:00 PM
Indiana
Cincinnati 1:00 PM
Iowa State
Furman 1:00 PM
Clemson
VA Commonwealth 1:00 PM
Ohio State
Marquette 1:00 PM
(7) Duke
Bethune-Cookman 1:00 PM
East Carolina
Coppin State 1:00 PM
Wake Forest
(24) Georgia 1:00 PM
Georgia Tech
Ball State 1:00 PM
(12) Louisville
Auburn 1:00 PM
Virginia
Utah 1:00 PM
(16) Nebraska
Minnesota 2:00 PM
Memphis
Georgetown 2:00 PM
Kansas
Northwestern St 2:00 PM
Arkansas
TX-San Antonio 2:00 PM
Lamar
Southern Miss 2:00 PM
McNeese State
Air Force 2:00 PM
SIU-Edwardsville
IUPU-Ft Wayne 2:00 PM
USC Upstate
Morgan State 2:00 PM
Texas Tech
Western Ky 2:00 PM
Miss State
Southern U 2:00 PM
Illinois
Eastern Illinois 2:00 PM
North Texas
Alabama State 2:05 PM
South Alabama
Wisconsin 2:05 PM
Drake
Seattle 3:00 PM
Montana State
UC Santa Barbara 3:00 PM
Northern Ariz
Hofstra 3:00 PM
Norfolk State
Iona 3:00 PM
Pacific
Middle Tennessee 3:00 PM
Ole Miss
Portland 3:00 PM
Cal Poly
(10) Texas 3:00 PM
UCLA
Fresno State 4:00 PM
USC
Ave Maria 4:00 PM
Fla Gulf Coast
Holy Cross 4:00 PM
(3) Notre Dame
Chicago State 5:00 PM
Oakland
(11) North Carolina 5:00 PM
Oregon
Harvard 6:00 PM
Quinnipiac
Princeton 6:00 PM
American Univ
Missouri 8:30 PM
(14) California
Yale 9:30 PM
Washington
UNLV 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 amX28-24
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa 11 amX51-14
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State 11 amX31-24
Nov 22 - at Nebraska 11 amX28-24
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin 2:30 pm

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Gophers and Vikings do this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close