Gopher Football scrimmage notes: 8/15

The Gopher Football team held their open scrimmage earlier today and GopherDigest's Ryan Burns was there. All the info on what Gophers are making an impact can be found inside.

  • Kill said after practice that TE Duke Anyanwu had minor surgery on his right knee recently and expects him back within a couple of weeks. It's the same knee that Anyanwu tore last year, so not good news there. Kill does expect him back for the opener. Duke was on the sidelines in street clothes today with a wrap around that injured knee.

  • Kill mentioned afterwards that TE Lincoln Plsek is the only player who may not be ready for the opener because of a back injury.

  • I saw scouts from the Vikings, Packers, Saints, Jaguars, Browns, Cowboys and a couple more there as well.

  • Guys I saw that were out today were TE Lincoln Plsek and Nick Hart, WR Isaiah Gentry (Hamstring), OL Ben Lauer (dressed, but didn't participate), DL Alex Keith, Robert Ndondo-Lay and Mose Hall.

    Quarterbacks:

    Quarterback Mitch Leidner started well and waned off toward the end. Completed his first handful of balls and had a couple of dropped. One of the highlights of the scrimmage came on a slant from Leidner to Melvin Holland who took in and went 56 yards to inside the 10 before being tripped up. Leidner threw the ball away a couple of times, which Kill commented on after. Did throw a pick on a weird broken play between K.J. Maye and Jalen Myrick. During 2 minute, Leidner was scanning the field and Myrick fell down, Leidner was about a half of second late to see him and when he released the ball, Myrick was getting up and Maye stumbled for an easy INT for Myrick. Again, Leidner had his ups and downs today, but he'll be the starting quarterback for Minnesota barring injury. Looking at his overall body of work as this is the 7th time I've seen him so far this fall, I'm not sure he's taken a big step forward from the last year. I'm still lerry about decision making and his pocket presence needs to improve, but as does the offense around him.

    Not a great start for Chris Streveler today as his first pass was a little hitch route to TE Nate Wozniak that was jumped by LB Cody Poock for an easy interception for a touchdown. Stared him down and Poock read it perfectly. Streveler did get his first work of the year at wide receiver during team at the end of scrimmage. Jacques Perra has a few good throws, but I thought Demry Croft played well for a true freshman again today. He started off a little slow, but threw a beautiful deep ball to E.J. Sardinha for a touchdown. Good loft and put in right in the bread basket. Kill mentioned after how Croft has had a "heck of a camp" and that he's been impressed. I still believe it's in the best interest of the team for him to redshirt and come compete for the job in 2016, but there's no doubt to me right now he's got the most natural talent at the quarterback position on the team right now.

    Projected depth chart going into TCU:
    1) Mitch Leidner 2) Chris Streveler 3) Jacques Perra/Demry Croft/Conor Rhoda

    Running backs:

    The guy I was more impressed with today was true freshman Shannon Brooks. He ran his tail off and is one tough back. Consistently ran through contact and ran no trouble making a man miss. Had a nice 35 yard run versus the three's where he pulled away. Kill complimented Brooks getting on getting some runs with the 2's toward the end of practice and mentioned how he's going to be sore tomorrow after what he did today. Came away very impressed with the true freshman. Rodrick Williams and Rodney Smith split reps with the 1's. Rodrick ran well through contact for extra yards and Rodney's vision was on point. Rodney couldn't get it in twice from inside the two yard line, but I expect Rodrick to get those carries and the OL wasn't giving him much help. Johannesson and Femi-Cole got reps, but didn't too anything too spectacular.

    Projected depth chart going into TCU:
    1) Rodrick Williams
    2) Rodney Smith
    3) Berkley Edwards 4) Shannon Brooks
    5) James johannesson 6) Jonathan Femi-Cole

    Tight ends:

    With Duke Anyanwu out for at least two weeks with knee surgery and Lincoln Plsek dealing with back issues, expect Brandon Lingen and Nate Wozniak to get a lot of reps for TCU. Lingen can do a lot of things in the passing and blocking game, but I think he'll be the TE getting the most targets. Wozniak will also fill that role, but also as a blocking TE. Noah Scarver and Jerry Gibson may also be thrust into action with Gibson out of the H-back and Scarver as rotational tight end. Colton Beebe, who had some drops today looks to be playing some Y and H-back as well with his versatility. He's a guy physically who could contribute this year on special teams for sure. The tight ends didn't get a ton of targets today as well.

    Projected depth chart going into TCU:
    Y:
    1) Brandon Lingen
    2) Nate Wozniak
    3) Noah Scarver
    4) Bryce Witham

    H-back:
    1) Jerry Gibson
    2) Tyler Hartmann/Colton Beebe

    FB:
    1) Miles Thomas
    2) Tyler Hartmann/Colton Beebe

    Wide Receiver:

    A few guys who stood out to me today where Melvin Holland and Rashad Still. Holland had the long reception on a slant from Leidner, but he set up Boddy-Calhoun perfectly to get the separation. Good explosive cut and Leidner put it right on the money for Holland to turn up field immediately and put on the jets for a long reception. He got a lot of reps with Eric Carter and K J Maye ahead of him. Rashad Still had another play of the day type reception on a fade route in the corner of the end zone jumping over the top of KiAnte Hardin. Conor Rhoda got the snap and Kill told him immediately throw the fade to Still. Still positioned his body and timed the jump perfectly to go over the top of Hardin to make the play in the corner of the end zone. Had another nice catch as well today, so El Paso receiver had himself a day. Drew Wolitarsky is someone who is a little bit of mystery to me as I think I can count of one hand the number of targets I've seen him get in team so far through seven practices. He's still getting reps with the starters, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Holland and Jeffrey Jones to get reps over him as the season goes on. Hunter Register after having a great day yesterday, missed a couple of deep balls that hit him right in the hands along the sidelines. Some uncharacteristic drops for the true freshman whose done well there in camp. Desmond Gant had a quiet day as well.

    Projected depth chart going into TCU:
    1) Maye/Carter/Wolitarsky or Holland 2) Jones/Brian Smith/Desmond Gant

    Offensive line:

    This group struggled the most to me today. Too many times was the quarterback having the pocket collapse around him, or flushed out of the pocket or the running back being hit in the backfield. The tackles specifically had rough days. Foster Bush and Alex Mayes were getting beat around the edge too many times by guys like Julian Huff, Hank Ekpe and Gaelin Elmore. Kill really got after Bush after Elmore batted a pass down and I'm concerned about the tackle spot. Ben Lauer was dressed and did warm up with the team, but did not play. The fact that he was out there and didn't look to be laboring at all is encouraging to him returning in a week or so. Campion and Pirsig weren't being overwhelmed a lot, but it did happen a time or two. Again, I know the offensive line wasn't cutting and that'll play a part in discouraging the DL pass rush, but it still happened too many times. Brian Bobek had a heads up play where the DE jumped off sides and he immediately snapped it to Leidner knowing it was a free play. Something very good to see out of a veteran center. I thought Bobek and Christenson did well today at center and left guard. Connor Mayes had a couple of missed assignments that drew some yelling from the sidelines. Isaac Hayes with the 2's really had a tough day. Really hoping Lauer is back healthy for TCU so that Campion can slide back to RG. For a group with so many upperclassmen starting, really want more from this group as I know they're capable. Tackle depth is concerning right now.

    Projected depth chart going into TCU:
    1) Lauer/Christenson/Bobek/Campion/Pirsig
    2) A. Mayes/Bjorklund/Moore/C.Mayes/Bush
    3) Oseland/Stieber/Ma.Leidner/Weyler/Connelly

    Defensive line:

    Defensive line still hurting for depth as three guys were out for the scrimmage and Julian Kafo left with an injury as well. The starting group of defensive line is going to cause some havoc when they rush four as Ekpe and Cockran have been impressive on the outside and Richardson is always in the backfield. Ekpe will be a solid defensive tackle, but the fact that Minnesota rotates so much means that Gaelin Elmore, Andrew Stelter and hopefully Alex Keith and Robert Ndondo-Lay are ready to go. Elmore and Stelter are two I'm not concerned about as they'll provide solid depth. Not as high of impact players as Hendrick Ekpe or a Steven Richardson, but are solid. Gophers have to have Ndondo-Lay and Keith back to complete that rotation. Winston Delattiboudere has more success around the edge today against the tackles after he was stonewalled yesterday, so with Kafo and Keith out, he'd be the next DE up.

    Projected depth chart going into TCU:
    1) H.Ekpe/Richardson/S.Ekpe/Cockran
    2) Elmore/Stelter/Ndondo-Lay/Keith

    Linebackers:

    Obviously things started out with with an easy Cody Poock INT for a touchdown. It's tough to get a read on these linebackers from the sideline and not being able to see the whole field, but still believe these guys have the deepest two-deeps on the team. Julian Huff is definitely going to play this year on both defense and special teams. Too explosive, physical and with good instincts. As much as I'm ready to anoint Poock the starter at MLB, Everett Williams has played well the last few days. Stuffed Rodney Smith at the goal line on 4th down and you hear Sherels praising him for the sidelines. Claeys and Sherels are going to have a tough call to make there. Still no sign of Chris Wipson.

    Projected depth chart going into TCU:
    1) Lynn/Poock/Campbell
    2) Ju.Huff/Williams/Celestin
    3) Rallis/Waters/Dixon

    Defensive backs:

    Not a concern here for any of the defensive backs. You wouldn't even know Murray is out there as always as the quarterbacks never seem to target whoever he's covering. Damarius Travis brought the wood a few times today and Antonio Johnson had his speed on display in tripping up Holland inside the 15. The guy who I thought played really well today was Jalen Myrick. Had a near interception on the sidelines on Demry Croft and read and broke early on the route to break up the pass. KiAnte Hardin has really started to take hold of the fifth corner spot behind Myrick and James. He'll struggle initially against receivers like Rashad Still or Hunter Register who are 6'5" and above, but he's disciplined and has speed and athleticism to make up for his lack of height. Antonio Shenault and Ray Buford are battling it out for the 6th spot. For those wondering about the nickle corner, Minnesota rotated a lot again today. Still think either Myrick will come in or Travis comes down and Kunle Ayinde comes in. Ace Rogers has been getting some reps with the 1's as well, but the Gophers have a lot of options there too. Going to be curious to see what Claeys and Sawvel decide to do in nickle.

    Projected depth chart going into TCU:
    1) Boddy/Johnson/Travis/Murray 2) James/Rogers/Ayinde/Myrick 3) Hardin/McGhee/Johnson/Buford

    Special Teams:

    Ryan Santoso went three for three today on field goals today, converting from 40, 43 and 44. Peter Mortell had an inconsistent day punting during the drills as he had a couple of mishits, while Ryan Santoso bombed a couple. He's got a leg strength advantage over Mortell, but still expect Mortell to be the starter. For those wondering Craig James, K.J. Maye and KiAnte Hardin were returning said punts.


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