Upbeat Gray isn't concerned with past

  • Article by: DENNIS BRACKIN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 18, 2011 - 11:57 PM

Quarterback is confident he and the Gophers can rise to the challenge.

hide

Gophers quarterback MarQueis Gray (5)

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

MarQueis Gray possesses a peculiar quality that, in the view of some teammates, makes him the perfect quarterback to lead the Gophers.

"I'd say he has a very short-term memory,'' wide receiver Da'Jon McKnight said. "He never gets down. He's always got a smile on his face -- something bad happens, he's smiling.''

A short-term memory is something all the Gophers could use. Gray leads a team that is 1-5 at the season's midpoint, has lost its first two Big Ten games by a combined margin of 103-17 and faces Nebraska on Saturday. The Cornhuskers are followed, in succession, by Iowa, Michigan State and Wisconsin, a quartet that has a combined 20-4 record.

Gray appears unfazed, or at least not victimized by his memories, saying: "I feel like if we do what we're supposed to do, have less turnovers and have some fun, anything's possible.''

Gray can hardly be held accountable for the Gophers' struggles, since he missed key parts of the first two games, losses to USC and New Mexico State, with severe cramping that rushed true freshman Max Shortell into action. Then Gray suffered torn ligaments in his left toe late in the lone victory over Miami (Ohio), missed the Big Ten opener at Michigan and didn't start last Saturday at Purdue.

Gray is back as the No. 1 quarterback, but his performance is difficult to grade, a mixture of good and bad, often within the same game. He's the Gophers' leading rusher, including 171 yards against Miami, a school record for quarterbacks . But his passing can politely be described as inconsistent, and his inability to provide the Gophers with a deep passing game has allowed opposing defenses to focus on stopping the run.

"It's been more of a learning process,'' Gray said. "It's not where I want it to be, but we have to look forward to the second part of the season.''

Gray has completed only 48.5 percent of his passes (47 of 97) and has more interceptions (four) than touchdowns (three). But offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover said there is a lot more to those statistics than meets the eye.

"One of the tough things about being a quarterback, of course, is that a lot of it is going to be laid at your feet,'' Limegrover said. "But sometimes it's not all his fault. What we've done the last couple weeks is, instead of meeting as individual [offensive position] groups, we've met as a whole offense and said, 'Ok, here's a time where he didn't make a real good read or have a real good throw. But here's another time when the receiver, where were you supposed to be? And here's another time when he couldn't step into his throw because he had a defensive lineman in his face.' So, there's a lot of pieces to that puzzle.''

One thing that stands out about Gray, Limegrover said, is that he's steadily emerged as a leader, and teammates have taken note.

"He's gone through some trials and tribulations,'' senior running back Duane Bennett said. "But at the same time, he's one of those players who's going to fight through it.''

Gray last played quarterback on a regular basis as a high school junior in 2007, suffering a broken arm as a senior. He sat out 2008 with the Gophers because of academic problems and played mostly at wide receiver the past two years.

Limegrover described Gray as "a little shell-shocked'' for the opening game at USC because "everything was so new.'' But Gray persevered, and was showing improvement until injuring his toe against Miami.

"There have been things that set his progress back, because when you don't play, it's hard to get better,'' Gophers coach Jerry Kill said. "So I think these next six games are real critical.''

Gray said he believes the bye week has put him in a position to respond to the challenge. His toe improved with treatment and more rest than normal, and he spent a lot of time after practice working with receivers on routes and timing.

"The bye week gave me a lot of confidence to push off [his injured left foot] and cut,'' he said. "I feel a lot better, and a lot more comfortable.''

That confidence appears to be rubbing off on teammates who can clearly use an infusion of it.

"He's a good leader,'' McKnight said. "When he's got a smile on his face, he lets everyone know it's going to be fine. He's not the kind to put his head down.''

In short, he's showing teammates the value of a short-term memory.

  • related content

  • U's Edwards could play both ways

    Wednesday October 19, 2011

    Lamonte Edwards says his only preference as to whether he's playing linebacker or running back is where he's needed most.

  • GOPHERS VS. NO. 13 NEBRASKA

    2:30 p.m. Saturday • TCF Bank Stadium • TV: Ch. 5 (100.3-FM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Cincinnati - M. Leake 6:05 PM
Pittsburgh - E. Volquez
Minnesota - T. May 6:05 PM
Baltimore - M. Gonzalez
NY Yankees - C. Capuano 6:07 PM
Toronto - M. Buehrle
Philadelphia - D. Buchanan 6:10 PM
NY Mets - J. deGrom
Boston - A. Ranaudo 6:10 PM
Tampa Bay - C. Archer
Miami - T. Koehler 6:35 PM
Atlanta - E. Santana
Cleveland - D. Salazar 7:10 PM
Kansas City - J. Vargas
Detroit - J. Verlander 7:10 PM
Chicago WSox - S. Carroll
Texas - S. Baker 7:10 PM
Houston - B. Oberholtzer
Chicago Cubs - K. Hendricks 7:15 PM
St. Louis - S. Miller
Colorado - C. Bergman 8:40 PM
Arizona - J. Collmenter
Oakland - J. Lester 9:05 PM
LA Angels - J. Weaver
Los Angeles - D. Haren 9:10 PM
San Diego - A. Cashner
Washington - J. Zimmermann 9:10 PM
Seattle - F. Hernandez
Milwaukee - W. Peralta 9:15 PM
San Francisco - R. Vogelsong
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
(21) Texas A&M 52 FINAL
(9) So Carolina 28
Wake Forest 10 FINAL
ULM 17
Boise State 13 FINAL
(18) Ole Miss 35
Tulane 31 FINAL
Tulsa 38
Rutgers 41 FINAL
Washington St 38
Weber State 14 FINAL
(19) Arizona State 45
Temple 37 FINAL
Vanderbilt 7
BYU 0 1st Qtr 14:34
Connecticut 0
(6) Jacksonville St 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8:00 PM
Houston
Colorado State 8:00 PM
Colorado
UNLV 9:30 PM
Arizona
Penn State 8/30/14 7:30 AM
UCF
Troy 8/30/14 11:00 AM
UAB
(7) UCLA 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Virginia
Western Mich 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
(5) Ohio State 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Navy
Appalachian St 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Michigan
Ga Southern 8/30/14 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 8/30/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
West Virginia 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Marshall 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
UC Davis 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 8/30/14 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 8/30/14 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 8/30/14 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 8/30/14 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 8/30/14 6:00 PM
Florida
Stephen F Austin 8/30/14 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 8/30/14 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 8/30/14 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 8/30/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Texas
(1) Florida State 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8/30/14 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 8/30/14 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 8/30/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
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
Houston 7:00 PM
Sporting Kansas City
Ottawa 6:30 PM
Montreal
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
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 9:00 PM
Phoenix
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 pm
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pm
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. TBA
Sep 27 - at Michigan TBA
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern TBA
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Gophers in their season opener

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close