Gophers open spring football with momentum, and hope

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 26, 2013 - 12:08 AM

Kill is confident hard work in the offseason will pay off.

hide

After going 3-9 and 6-7 in his first two years as Gophers football coach, Jerry Kill is determined to take another big step forward this year.

Photo: BRUCE BISPING, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

After going 3-9 and 6-7 in his first two years as Gophers coach, Jerry Kill is determined to take another big step forward this year.

When last seen, the Gophers were walking off the field in disappointment at the Meineke Car Care Bowl, having played one of their best games of the season against Texas Tech, only to lose 34-31.

The Gophers open spring practice Tuesday with the first of 15 sessions that will culminate with the annual spring game on April 27 at TCF Bank Stadium.

“We feel like we’ve had an outstanding offseason since playing Texas Tech,” Kill said Monday. “I think we built on the way we played in the bowl game, and that carried over into the offseason. Our kids have worked very hard.”

Here are four questions facing the Gophers this spring:

1. Is Philip Nelson the best answer at quarterback?

Nelson started the team’s final seven games last year as a true freshman and had some up-and-down moments before finishing with a strong performance in the bowl game.

Kill said Nelson will run the first-team offense this spring, “but he’s going to have to prove it on an everyday basis, just like every other player on the team. We’ve got two young guys [Mitch Leidner and Chris Streveler] that I’m sure are hungry and wanting to show what they can do, and we’re excited about that.”

Leidner redshirted last year but was impressive running the scout team. Streveler earned Illinois all-state honors as a dual threat quarterback at Marian Central Catholic. Just as Nelson and Leidner did last year, Streveler enrolled at the university in January, making him eligible for spring practice.

2. Will the offensive theme be run, run, run?

It sure sounds that way. The Gophers were encouraged with how well they ran the ball in the bowl game, gaining 222 yards on 54 attempts. Texas Tech wasn’t built to stop the run, but the Gophers still liked the way the offensive line got healthy in time for that game and controlled the line of scrimmage.

“We need to play physical like we did in our last game,” Kill said. “That’s who we want to be.”

The Gophers like their offensive line depth and believe they can continue to run the ball with Donnell Kirkwood and Rodrick Williams coming back, not to mention speedy incoming recruit Berkley Edwards.

3. Who are some potential new impact players?

Junior college transfer Damien Wilson is a key player to watch this spring, since he could become the starting middle linebacker, replacing outgoing senior Mike Rallis.

“Damien’s had a great offseason and we look forward to seeing him play,” Kill said. “He’ll play [middle] linebacker because he’s 6-2, 250 [pounds]. He doesn’t look it, but he is. He’s a very good athlete.”

Another middle linebacker candidate is redshirt freshman Jack Lynn, who weighs 234 pounds, up from 210 last year.

  • related content

  • Jerry Kill

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

NY Mets 6 Top 7th Inning
Miami 6
Philadelphia 5 Bottom 8th Inning
Atlanta 0
Boston 3 Bottom 8th Inning
Tampa Bay 3
Minnesota 6 Bottom 8th Inning
Baltimore 3
Pittsburgh 3 Bottom 5th Inning
St. Louis 2
Milwaukee 0 Bottom 5th Inning
Chicago Cubs 3
Detroit - D. Price 3:05 PM
Cleveland - C. Kluber
Seattle - C. Young 3:05 PM
Oakland - J. Hammel
San Francisco 2 Suspended
Colorado 2
Arizona - T. Cahill 3:10 PM
San Diego - T. Ross
San Francisco - T. Hudson 4:40 PM
Colorado - F. Morales
Washington - G. Gonzalez 7:10 PM
Los Angeles - R. Hernandez
Texas - C. Lewis 7:10 PM
Kansas City - Y. Ventura
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
Utah State 7 FINAL
Tennessee 38
SMU 0 FINAL
(10) Baylor 45
Miami-Florida 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
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
(22) 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
(14) 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
(16) 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
(25) Washington
(15) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(11) 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
(18) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Vanderbilt
Old Dominion 9/6/14 5:00 PM
NC State
(8) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(19) 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
(6) Auburn
East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(9) 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
(13) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(21) 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
(23) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(5) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(7) 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
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 30 FINAL
Saskatchewan 35
Toronto 12 3:24
Hamilton 13
Edmonton 3:30 PM
Calgary
Indiana 3:00 PM
Chicago
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