Sunday, August 23, 2009

Thoughts on the "Game Day Preview"

I wrote a little bit about the experience of being at The Bank for the Game Day Preview over at The Rivalry, Esq.  But I wanted to write some random thoughts about the football side of the day and some reactions to the play of the Gophers.

-Outside of being burned by Eric Decker on the first play from scrimmage, true freshman Michael Carter had a pretty nice little day with two interceptions.  Jeff and I agreed that the Gophers cannot afford to redshirt Carter, we need his talent on the field right away.  Youngblood has high hopes for the Gopher secondary:
"I think the Gophers are in very good shape in the defensive secondary. We all know what Marcus Sherels and Traye Simmons can do. Now we have an idea what Carter can do."
 -I wasn't thrilled with the play of Adam Weber.  I realize he's learning a new offense, and I realize that it's just a scrimmage, but 3 interceptions against a back-up defense is not good.  One of the interceptions was a tip, so not exactly his fault.  But the interception that he threw in the back of the endzone when he was "pulling a 2008" (I am coining this phrase to describe when Weber forces the ball the Decker without checking down any of his options) and trying to force a pass to Decker was unacceptable.  I hope we see a serious decrease in Weber forcing throws this year.  As a 3rd year starter I don't think this is an unrealistic expectation...

-Having said that... Weber to Decker is still a DEADLY combination.

-Lee Campbell has become a VERY solid linebacker.  He had 6 tackles yesterday and he is just all over the field.  In my opinion he gained a lot of confidence through the season last year, and it appears he has continued that.

-I was going to make some comments about the offensive line, but Youngblood really says it perfectly:
"I still think the success of the season depends on how well the offensive line comes together. I think it could be the biggest question needing an answer.In the first half Saturday the Gophers ran 15 times for 26 yards, a 1.7-yard average. Credit line coach Tim Davis and his crew, because it got better in the second half, in which the Gophers averaged 4.8 yards on 26 carries."

-Duane Bennett is back!  He looked as quick and shifty as ever, and I had forgotten how physical he is as a runner.  We could see some really big things from Bennett this year.

-Jay Thomas got a lot of work with the second team offense and he looked really good.  It looks as though the Gophers are going to have a lot of RB options, especially when Kevin Whaley is back from his injury.

-The offensive scheme really seemed to focus on the run game, especially for the second team, so we didn't get to see much from the arm of MarQuise Gray.  There were a few times where Gray was ready to run, but they were really protecting the QB's during the scrimmage, and as soon as any of the QB's were even touched by a defender, the official blew the whistle.  It would have been fun to see him run a bit, because he looked like he was ready to make it happen with his legs.

-Additional note on Gray: we were about 4 feet away from him when the Gophers did their Victory Walk into The Bank, and he just looks like he belongs.  He's a big boy, and he was all smiles.  He carries himself with an incredible confidence.

-Troy Stoudemire is an amazing kick returner, and if he doesn't break one for a return touchdown this year, I will be shocked.

-I was a little nervous by how much trouble the Gophers had running the bal in the first half of the scrimmage.  Things definitely improved in the second half, however.  The question in the scrimmage situation is always is the defense doing a great job of stopping the run or is the offense doing a poor job executing?

Overall a great day at The Bank.  It's going to be a very exciting place to watch Gopher Football.

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