Chip Scoggins: Scattershot arm unfortunate shade of Gray

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 1, 2012 - 1:44 AM

The senior QB is supposed to be the leader of an improving team, but his passes were all over the place.

hide

MarQueis Gray picked up yards on the ground, as usual, Thursday night, but his inaccurate throwing had Gophers backers anxious.

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

In the second quarter of the Gophers season opener Thursday night, UNLV was penalized for utilizing "disconcerting signals" on defense, a strange call that drew puzzled reactions.

Actually, that phrase also applies to the Gophers performance in key areas that clouded their 30-27 triple-overtime victory in Las Vegas.

The presumed new-and-improved MarQueis Gray looked as erratic as ever throwing the ball. Their special teams were horrendous, and they committed 11 penalties, converted only three of 15 third-down opportunities and displayed a lack of discipline at critical moments.

Yes, a win is a win, especially on the road in the first game of the season. Nobody should ever apologize for that, but let's also be honest: The Gophers needed three overtimes to beat a bad team from an inferior conference with a freshman quarterback who looked completely overmatched in that setting. Internally, they must realize that type of performance won't be nearly enough once the competition stiffens after a layup against New Hampshire in the home opener next Saturday.

The Gophers produced some positive developments that deserve recognition, too. The defense generated a pass rush and created turnovers, two major areas of deficiency in recent years. The running game looked solid with Donnell Kirkwood and James Gillum. And the overall team speed and athleticism appear better.

But Gray's performance and general sloppiness in all areas left a nagging feeling that can't get overlooked in the afterglow of a 1-0 start. The Gophers film review should be a long, uncomfortable exercise that provides some balanced perspective.

Especially for Gray. Whether he battled first-game nerves or rust or whatever reason offered, he simply did not display the kind of improvement as a passer that we heard so much about throughout fall camp. Gray routinely overthrew his receivers and missed at least three potential touchdown passes on throws that a senior quarterback should complete.

He regrouped in overtime with a pair of touchdown passes to tight end John Rabe, including in the second overtime after UNLV inexplicably failed to cover Rabe. Give Gray credit for that. But the Gophers could have taken control of that game long before overtime if Gray had showed a modicum of touch on his passes.

He missed a wide-open Rabe on the first drive and then had his next pass tipped and intercepted. He overthrew a wide-open Andre McDonald in the third quarter after the defensive back fell down, a glaring misfire in what should have been a walk-in touchdown.

Gray completed 17 of 30 passes for 269 yards. He also rushed for 68 yards on 17 carries. Statistically, that's not bad, but it should have been significantly better. Gray is the Gophers' undisputed leader, their best player and a guy widely respected inside the program, but his inconsistency as a passer remains maddening.

As a junior, he completed only 50.7 percent of his passes and ranked 93rd nationally in passing efficiency in his first season as a starter in a new offensive system. That can't happen again this season. He needs to improve his completion percentage to 60 percent or higher and just make the routine plays.

The Gophers certainly didn't help Gray with untimely penalties and miscues. They committed false-start penalties twice on third-and-2, putting themselves in obvious passing situations. They had a muffed punt and costly pass interference penalty by senior Troy Stoudermire along with two personal fouls on defense. They also missed a 32-yard field goal and averaged 35 yards on seven punts.

But they still won, which ultimately is what counts, not style points. Jerry Kill and his staff will attempt to clean up the mental mistakes and undisciplined penalties. Those things should be correctable. No doubt they also will stress the positives.

The Gophers have more talent than last season and should win more games. But they can't play that way against better teams, especially their senior quarterback.

The success of this team rests largely on Gray's shoulders and his ability to become a more accurate passer. One game in, that's still a big question mark.

Chip Scoggins • ascoggins@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Houston 23 FINAL
Pittsburgh 30
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 98 FINAL
Cleveland 107
New Orleans 88 FINAL
Washington 84
Milwaukee 120 FINAL
New York 107
Philadelphia 88 FINAL
Brooklyn 99
Charlotte 114 FINAL
Atlanta 117
Sacramento 99 FINAL
San Antonio 106
Memphis 103 FINAL
Dallas 108
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Arkansas State 7:00 PM
Louisiana
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
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 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: How will the Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close