Gophers notes: Intensity boils over a bit during drills

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 4, 2014 - 10:26 PM

It started with a pancake block Monday, as Gophers center Tommy Olson flattened redshirt freshman defensive lineman Demaris Peppers.

Soon, Peppers was taking out his frustrations on Olson, so while the rest of the team got a water break, assistant coach Jeff Phelps pulled the defensive linemen aside and made them do up-downs. That’s the drill where they run in place and drop their chests to the ground each whistle.

When the Gophers resumed their 11-on-11 session, Olson drove linebacker Damien Wilson to the sideline, a move that probably would have drawn a flag for unnecessary roughness.

So coach Jerry Kill ordered the whole team to do up-downs, as a few hundred fans watched the open practice from the sideline.

“I think the intensity’s good,” Kill said. “I think you have to be able to play under control.”

Kill referenced something Dan O’Brien, the senior associate athletics director, once told him: “I’m glad I don’t have to tell them, ‘Giddy up and go.’ You can always say, ‘Whoa.’ I think that’s pretty good. We just need to put the whoa in there a little bit.”

Anyanwu out for 2014

Tight end Duke Anyanwu, who injured his right knee Saturday, will be out for the season, Kill said. Anyanwu had surgery to repair a torn ACL in 2012, but that was his other knee. He also broke a forearm during spring practice in 2013 and was limited to one game last season.

“Duke’s loved by our team and our coaches; he’s just such a special kid,” Kill said. “But he’ll always bounce back, and I know he’ll come back and he’ll compete his tail end off. But it’s too bad because he would have definitely played for us.”

McNamara tribute

The Gophers are honoring Bob McNamara with a sticker on the back of each helmet that has 44 with the letters BM underneath. McNamara, who died last month, was an All-America halfback in 1954, wearing No. 44, and dedicated much of his life to fundraising for Gophers athletics.

“Certainly, Bob and [his brother] Pinky were great football players here,” Kill said. “And it’s a tremendous loss to the state of Minnesota and certainly a great loss to the football family and all the people that knew Bob. I’ve never heard one person say anything bad about Bob McNamara.”

Edwards splits out

The Gophers practiced some plays with speedy running back Berkley Edwards split out as a wide receiver.

“Anytime you can move personnel around and do different things and have them be able to learn different positions, I think it allows more flexibility in what you do from week to week,” Kill said. “Not only [Edwards]. There are some other personnel groupings that certainly could help you.”

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