For the first time, upperclassmen and freshmen attended the same practice today. With the entire team on the practice field, there was plenty to see.
At the beginning of the day, the freshmen running backs were taking handoffs and receiving more individualized attention from running backs coach, Thomas Hammock. The group of young ball carriers looked to be a confident, hard-working bunch. Devon Wright looked to have a quick first step with the ball. Minnesota native, Lamonte Edwards, towered over his peers. At 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, Edwards looks to be built like a college linebacker but will line up at a running back for the Gophers.
The offensive line was an area that was showing promise today. The Gophers will return all five starters to the line as well as a stable of incoming freshmen. As a whole, the line looked big as well as agile and athletic. One drill involved the linemen to stay low and use a quick burst off the line. All members of the line looked to have a strong and powerful push. In a different drill, freshman Jimmy Gjere was commended by the coaching staff for his good work.
In passing drills, all quarterbacks appeared to be comfortable and accurate. Moses Alipate was seen zipping fast, accurate passes. His form, size and arm strength look to be coming together to create a deadly quarterback of the future. MarQueis Gray was also looking like a solid quarterback. Although Gray may be used in a variety of different ways, he will still be the Gophers' backup signal caller. As coach Tim Brewster said at Thursday's press conference, "MarQueis Gray is one play away from being our quarterback."
The entire defense worked on drills that focused on forcing turnovers. The defense divided up into four squads based on position and participated in four drills that worked on stripping the ball from the quarterback, recovering loose balls, intercepting tipped passes and stripping the ball from behind. The Gophers are looking to continue to improve on their turnovers forced. Last season, the team had 12 interceptions and a conference leading 16 fumble recoveries.
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