Hartman: Mularkey, Musgrave are very familiar foes

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 7, 2012 - 12:58 AM

The new Jaguars coach worked with the Vikings offensive coordinator for three seasons in Atlanta.

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Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Mike Mularkey

Photo: Stephen Morton, Associated Press

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From 2008 to 2010, Mike Mularkey was offensive coordinator and Bill Musgrave was quarterback coach for the Atlanta Falcons, both working for coach Mike Smith.

The Falcons had a record of 33-15 during those three seasons and reached the playoffs twice, including an NFC South title in 2010.

The two assistants played a big part in developing Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan after Atlanta made him the No. 3 overall pick in the 2003 draft. In 2010, Smith promoted Musgrave to assistant head coach as a reward for the great job he had done developing Ryan into one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.

Musgrave left Atlanta after the 2010 season to become Vikings offensive coordinator, while Mularkey left after last season to become Jacksonville's head coach.

Coincidentally, Mularkey's first regular-season game with the Jaguars will be against the Vikings, and Musgrave knows pretty well how his opponent thinks on the offensive side of the ball.

Will that be an advantage for the Vikings? Well we will know Sunday afternoon.

"I learned a ton of football from Mike," Musgrave said. "We had a lot of success on the field, but it was a real great experience for me to be around him for that time.

"He's just a terrific coach and an outstanding gentleman."

Looking forward to Sunday's game, Musgrave said the language of the two teams offenses will be similar, "but there's different players on each team, and, as you know, we try to tailor our system to fit our players, so there will be some distinct differences. The language may be similar, but the concepts will vary."

Musgrave looks for Mularkey to be a very successful coach.

"He's very steady and he's very tough," Musgrave said. "He really preaches a physical brand of football, and that's the way you win games. I really enjoyed being around him. He's just a fantastic fellow. He really works at his trade, a tireless work ethic. It was a challenge to keep up with him in the pace that he set."

Praise for Musgrave

When reached in Jacksonville, Mularkey had nothing but good things to say about Musgrove.

"We got along very good, we worked well together in Atlanta," Mularkey said. "I think he's a really good football coach, a great teacher. I think he does a good job, I really do. He's a smart, smart, smart coach.

"We had Matt Ryan. Matt made us look good."

Mularkey didn't think the fact that the two coached together will give either one a big advantage Sunday.

"I think both of us think outside the box," Mularkey said. "I don't know that we can predict what either one of us is going to do."

Mularkey, who was a Vikings tight end from 1983 to '88 -- former Vikings coach Bud Grant described him as "very smart, made very few mistakes" -- recalled those seasons at the Metrodome and said, "I'm excited [about coming back]."

Mularkey finished his playing career with three seasons with the Steelers, then got his first coaching job in 1993 in the Twin Cities when Tim Cross, then the coach at Concordia (St. Paul), hired him to lead the Golden Bears offensive line.

After a year there, he started his NFL coaching career in 1994 with Tampa Bay as a quality control coach for Sam Wyche. Now he's in his second head coaching job, after previously leading the Buffalo Bills in 2004 and '05.

Gray knows feeling

Having played wide receiver as a sophomore, MarQueis Gray knows the frustration they went through in the Gophers' season-opening victory at UNLV last week, when the senior quarterback overthrew at least four receivers who were wide open.

True, Gray did complete two key passes in overtime, but his performance was nothing like what it was when he sparked the Gophers to victories over Illinois and Iowa in Big Ten play last season, when he was able to be effective passing the ball while also running it phenomenally.

"Based off the film and me being out there, I feel like I missed like four more touchdowns through the air," Gray said. "Like I said, it wasn't my best game. I'm anxious to get back out there, and I know we could have scored more points if I was able to just sit back there and put some more air under those balls."

Gray said he has been thinking about the poor performance all this week during practice.

"To see all these other teams putting up big points, and those balls that I overthrew, we could have been up there in that area," he said. "But like I said, we won the game and that's very positive. We'll be ready this week."

The New Hampshire team the Gophers face Saturday might be better than UNLV, according to coach Jerry Kill.

In beating Holy Cross 38-17 Saturday, New Hampshire was led by quarterback Sean Goldrich, who threw for two touchdowns and ran 10 times for 71 yards. As a team, the Wildcats rolled up 531 total yards of offense.

Gophers in the minors

A number of former Gophers baseball players wrapped up their minor league seasons this past week. Here's a look at how some ofthem did:

• Nate Hanson was at Class AA New Britain for the Twins and hit a career-high .276 with seven home runs and 50 RBI in 101 games. The first baseman finished the season with a seven-game hitting streak. He hit .293 over the final three months after hitting only .239 in April and May.

• Catcher Kyle Knudson is another Twins farmhand, one who finished the year with Class A Fort Myers after starting it at Class A Beloit. Between the two teams, he hit .252 with one home run and 27 RBI; he played 18 games with Beloit and 56 with Fort Myers. The 74 games came after he played in only 47 games in 2010 and 33 last year.

• Seth Rosin finished his season with Class A Clearwater in the Phillies organization after being traded from the Giants in the Hunter Pence deal on July 31. Overall he was 2-2 with 10 saves and a 4.08 ERA in 37 games between two teams. After being traded, he was 0-1 with a 3.00 ERA in three starts with Clearwater.

• Catcher Michael Kvasnicka was with Class A Lexington in the Astros organization and hit .232 with 15 homers and 53 RBI in 88 games in the South Atlantic League. He only played in two games after Aug. 1 because of injuries. He was hitting .118 on May 1 and .179 on June 1, but batted .279 with 10 homers and 36 RBI in 47 games in June and July.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. shartman@startribune.com

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