Practice Notes Part 2

Minnesota Football is starting up and the Gophers took the practice field this weekend, so find out the latest in the second part of our practice notes report.

Who impressed?

WR Andre McDonald had a good first couple of days of camp after missing the spring. Andre was targeted often and caught everything. He ran good routes and worked hard. He definitely put in work this offseason despite not being with the team as he was cut. Definitely the most impressive WR physically for Minnesota.

The secondary: the entire unit played well the first couple of days of camp making life difficult for the QB's. This was a position of strength for last years squad and it appears to be again despite the loss of starters Mike Carter and Troy Stoudermire.

Who disappointed?

Rodrick Williams Jr. had a few fumbles the first couple days of camp as well as a couple of dropped passes. If Williams can't get this taken care of, then he will not see the field as much as he did in the bowl game against Texas Tech.

Phillip Nelson: I was hoping to see Nelson show everyone who was going to be the starter, but instead he struggled with both accuracy and decision making at times. He definitely has the best arm of the current QB's, but he needs to consistently make the right reads and hit his receivers. While Nelson was by no means awful, he didn't live up to admittedly lofty expectations.

Battles to watch:

QB: Phillip Nelson has the obvious advantage of having played 7 college games compared to Leidner's zero. But that doesn't mean you should sleep on Leidner. Mitch ran the ball very well in the spring game and isn't going to give up the spot without a fight. While he's not as polished of a passer as Nelson, he can throw the ball well. Both struggled the first two days of camp and both will likely see the field this year but who starts is by no means locked up.

LT: While not the most talked about position battle along the O-Line there is going to be quite a battle at LT. Lenkiewicz has played well in games when Ed Olson has had to leave because of an injury and got to spend time with the first team in the spring after Olson had a surgery and was unable to participate. Marek has opened fall camp working with the ones but will have his work cut out for him to maintain that spot.

C: This is not the battle we initially thought we'd see as it seemed like it'd be Christenson vs. Bobek, but Bobek is out with a viral infection, so the staff decided to move Tommy Olson over from LG where he started some in the past. Olson has apparently picked up on the new position quite well though its hard to judge when he's not lining up across from a DT in pads. This battle will likely go deep into camp.

OLB: De'Vondre Campbell is impressing people early in camp and looks like an SEC linebacker. Whether he can put it all together and beat out an experienced James Manuel remains to be seen. MLB: This one is close to being settled in my opinion as JUCO transfer Damien Wilson has played well in both spring and fall camp thus far. Jack Lynn will see plenty of time, but having Lynn come off the bench will allow the RS Freshman to adjust to the college game a bit easier and Wilson has been great at fighting through blocks, something Gopher linebacker's have struggled with recently.

Best Guess at Current Depth Chart

QB: Phillip Nelson/Mitch Leidner

RB: Donnell Kirkwood/Rodrick Williams Jr.

WR: Derrick Engel/Andre McDonald

WR: Issac Fruchte/Keise (this will likely be one of the true freshman by the end of camp)

Slot: Jamel Harbison/K.J. Maye

TE: Lincoln Plsek/Maxx Williams/Drew Goodger (Williams if passing situation, Goodger for running)

LT: Marek Lenkiewicz/Ed Olson (this is a much tighter battle than most fans thought though Olson will likely win out)

LG: Zac Epping/Joe Bjorklund

C: Jon Christenson/Tommy Olson

RG: Caleb Bak/Isaac Hayes

RT: Josh Campion/Foster Bush

DE: Michael Amaefula/Alex Keith

DT: Rashede Hageman/Scott Ekpe

DT: Cameron Botticelli/Roland Johnson

DE: Theiren Cockran/Ben Perry

OLB: James Manuel/De'Vondre Campbell

MLB: Damian Wilson/Jack Lynn (Jephete Matilus may push for some time as well)

OLB: Aaron Hill/Matilus? (This backup spot is pretty much wide open)

DB: Derrick Wells/Martez Shabazz

S: Cedric Thompson/Damarius Travis

S: Brock Vereen/Steven Montgomery

DB: Eric Murray/Briean Boddy-Calhoun

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