Redshirt freshman from Michigan could give U's offense another dimension

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 12, 2014 - 12:29 AM

Running back Berkley Edwards could give Gophers’ offense another dimension.

hide

Everyone is anxious to see what Berkley Edwards, who was redshirted last season because of a high ankle sprain, can do this fall. The Michigan native, with NFL bloodlines, has the speed to beat defenses on the outside.

Photo: File photo by Richard Sennott • richard.sennott@startribune.com,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Berkley Edwards has yet to play a real down for the Gophers, but the redshirt freshman running back’s potential impact has been a regular topic around Dinkytown for months.

“I don’t want to make it sound like we’ve been up here late at night because it’s all about getting Berkley the ball,” offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover said in February, before spring practice opened. “But believe me when I tell you that we think he can be a weapon.”

Edwards showed it throughout spring camp. During the 12 practices that were open to the public, the 5-foot-9, 190-pound Michigan native seemed to deliver at least one breakaway run per day, delighting onlookers.

The Gophers have a chance to showcase Edwards and the new dimension he brings to their offense during Saturday’s annual spring game at TCF Bank Stadium.

Of course, with Big Ten Network covering the event, coach Jerry Kill also will be careful not to reveal too much for opposing coaches’ video files. Kill’s primary goal is getting his team through the spring game healthy.

Last season, the Gophers had big plans for Edwards before he suffered a high ankle sprain late in training camp. It took Edwards several weeks to heal, so he redshirted, while David Cobb emerged as the team’s first 1,200-yard rusher since 2006.

Cobb and Donnell Kirkwood, the team’s leading rusher from 2012, are both back as seniors, and junior tailback Rodrick Williams has had a strong spring, too. In practices, Cobb typically leads the first-team offense onto the field, but it isn’t long before Edwards is in the mix.

Asked last week if Edwards is the type of player who might get five to seven touches per game, Kill started chuckling.

“We’ll see,” Kill said. “He might need more touches.”

Kill said Edwards reminds him of Chad Spann, who rushed for 1,388 yards and 22 touchdowns under Kill’s staff as a senior at Northern Illinois in 2010. The 5-9, 200-pound Spann spent last season with the Houston Texans.

Edwards, whose father, Stan, and brother Braylon played at Michigan before going to the NFL, has the quickness and speed to get around the edge. Kill said he’s also been impressed with Edwards’ recent improvement “running the ball downhill.”

During one particular play in last Saturday’s scrimmage, Edwards took a handoff, made one cut to avoid a tackle and raced 50 yards for a touchdown.

“When you’ve got Berkley in the backfield, you never really know what’s going to happen,” quarterback Mitch Leidner said. “Like the play there, he breaks a tackle, and he’s gone. You’re off the field already. That’s what our offense really needs.”

Late last season, the Gophers suffered through a 13-quarter stretch without an offensive touchdown. That included eight quarters against the Big Ten’s two best defenses — Wisconsin and Michigan State.

Kill believes the Gophers offense will be better equipped this year because their personnel is more varied. Beyond Edwards, they’re building a stable of tight ends, including Maxx Williams, who can split out at wide receiver.

“All of a sudden you’re playing Michigan State, and you’re trying to run power football, and it’s tough going, so then you spread them out — and you’ve got really true personnel to do that,” Kill said. “[In previous years] we’ve only really had one personnel team so to speak.

“So we can run a lot of personnel groupings at you. You can change the game plan week to week.”

The Gophers lined up Edwards at wide receiver some this spring, too. Though they didn’t show it during the open practices, they are almost sure to use him on the jet-sweep play made popular by Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon.

  • Gophers Spring Game

    TCF Bank Stadium • 2:30 p.m. today

    Listen, watch: 100.3-FM. Game will be streamed live on BTN2GO.com. Delayed TV broadcast at 5:30 p.m. Sunday on Big Ten Network.

    Admission: Free.

    Format: Because of mounting injury concerns, the Gophers don’t plan to divide into two teams and keep score this year. They’ll hold a scrimmage pitting the offense against the defense. It’ll be full contact for everyone except the quarterbacks. Other Big Ten teams that have gone away from a traditional spring game this year are Nebraska, Michigan and Wisconsin. If it’s like last Saturday’s Gophers scrimmage, all the healthy members of the two-deep roster will still see ample playing time.

    Pre and post: The stadium doors will open at 12:30 p.m. The Gophers will hold an alumni flag football game at 1 p.m. The current team will take the field at 2 p.m. for warmups. Following the spring game, players will sign autographs on the field.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Cincinnati - M. Latos 6:05 PM
Baltimore - B. Norris
Boston - J. Kelly 6:05 PM
NY Yankees - S. Greene
Detroit - K. Lobstein 6:05 PM
Cleveland - C. Carrasco
NY Mets - J. Niese 6:10 PM
Miami - B. Penny
Philadelphia - K. Kendrick 6:10 PM
Atlanta - M. Minor
Toronto - R. Dickey 6:10 PM
Tampa Bay - J. Hellickson
Milwaukee - Y. Gallardo 7:05 PM
Chicago Cubs - J. Arrieta
LA Angels - C. Wilson 7:10 PM
Houston - B. Peacock
Chicago WSox - H. Noesi 7:10 PM
Minnesota - T. Milone
Texas - D. Holland 7:10 PM
Kansas City - J. Guthrie
Pittsburgh - J. Locke 7:15 PM
St. Louis - A. Wainwright
San Francisco - Y. Petit 7:40 PM
Colorado - J. Lyles
Seattle - J. Paxton 9:05 PM
Oakland - S. Gray
Washington - D. Fister 9:10 PM
Los Angeles - C. Kershaw
Arizona - W. Miley 9:10 PM
San Diego - O. Despaigne
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
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