The Gophers spent spring practice experimenting heavily with a no-huddle offense, but this month they have been huddling regularly again.
“To be honest with you, we haven’t done near as much no-huddle as we did in the spring,” coach Jerry Kill said Saturday. “We experimented with it a little bit, and we’ve been a huddle team. That’s who we are.”
Offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover said Kill wanted to use the no-huddle offense to help prepare the defense for TCU’s no-huddle attack in Thursday’s opener, along with other no-huddle teams such as Northwestern and Purdue.
“That’s hard to simulate with your true freshmen work team,” Limegrover said.
Quarterback Mitch Leidner said the two-minute offense should benefit from the time the team spent practicing the up-tempo, no-huddle stuff.
“That’s a thing that can win you games,” he said.
Still will play
Kill has said running back Shannon Brooks, tight end Colton Beebe, linebacker Julian Huff and cornerback KiAnte Hardin all will play as true freshmen this season. Saturday, the coach added wide receiver Rashad Still to the list.
“Rashad is 6-6, 205-210 [pounds],” Kill said. “He’s had a great camp, and he’ll certainly play.”
Leidner said: “He can go get the ball; there’s no other way to put it. He’s a big target. He runs well, and he’s so natural going up to catch the football — that’s great to have offensively.”
The Gophers like how Leidner developed this month, coming off an up-and-down sophomore season that saw him complete only 51.5 percent of his passes.
“For the first three or four days of camp, Mitch wasn’t as sharp as he wanted to be,” Kill said. “But the last two weeks, he’s been unbelievably sharp. It’s the best I’ve seen him look since I’ve been here.”
Kill said this also is the most confident he has seen Leidner, who will make his 17th career start against TCU.
“I don’t even know if it’s as much [Leidner] as it is the people that are around him, receiver-wise,” Limegrover said. “We’ve thrown and caught more deep balls in this camp than we probably did the previous two years combined in spring and fall camp.”
Lips are sealed
Kill declined to give injury updates, saying, “Gary doesn’t need to know any more than he needs to know,” in a reference to TCU coach Gary Patterson.
Among the injury issues the Gophers had during camp were left tackle Ben Lauer (knee), tight end Duke Anyanwu (knee), tight end Lincoln Plsek (back), wide receiver Isaiah Gentry (hamstring), linebacker De’Vondre Campbell (groin), running back Berkley Edwards (ankle).
Kill did say, “I think we’ll be fairly healthy.”