The Minnesota Golden Gophers held their annual spring game yesterday in TCF Bank Stadium, where the Gopher fans got to see a glimpse of what is to come from this 2015 team. It was estimated that 10,000 came to watch this spring game.
In the first drive, the offense led by returning quarterback Mitch Leidner marched down the length of the field. The drive was capped by a 12 yard run by David Cobb’s most likely replacement in Rodrick Williams Jr, who powered his way into the endzone. Leidner went 5-11 for 53 yards passing while his backup in Chris Streveler was 11-20 passing, but his main highlight was his long 64 yard touchdown run.
However, after that first drive, the defense settled down and pretty much dominated the whole game. One thing I was watching throughout the game was how the young wide receivers were going to perform, how the running backs would look and what this new look offense with the Gophers installing a no-huddle would do.
Many of the young wide receivers struggled and really couldn’t create any separation against the defensive backs. Wide receiver Drew Wolitarsky was out yesterday with the flu, so he didn’t play, but this group needs some work. There were quite a few drops on the day as well.
However, there were a few bright spots from the wide receivers like speedy wide receiver K.J. Maye, who looks to be Leidner’s new favorite target after tight end Maxx Williams declared for the NFL draft. Maye made a spectacular sideline catch in the first drive and seems to be ready to take that next step.
Redshirt freshman running back Jeffrey Jones stood out except not in the backfield, but on the outside, where he played wide receiver in the slot. He made a couple good grabs and showed that versatility and athletic ability he will bring to the offense this fall.
The no-huddle will add a different dimension to this Gopher offense, which should add some surprise to opponents and make the defense have to prepare for more and have to be ready for that quick snap as well.
The defensive line was very active and disruptive all game and made it hard for the running backs to find any wiggle room. The big guys up front occupied most of the offensive line creating space for the linebackers to clean up and two that definitely did that were Cody Poock with 17 tackles and Jonathan Celestin with 12.
Kicker Ryan Santoso has lost some weight, but hasn’t lost any strength in his leg and he featured that strong foot after nailing a 56 field goal.The Gophers will continue to prepare for their huge season opener against a top five nationally ranked TCU Horned Frog squad on a Thursday night to kick open the season and make a statement as a contender not only in the Big Ten, but in the nation.