Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Practice, Quitters and Booze: Welcome to Gopher Spring Football!

So we wait and wait for Gopher spring practice to start so we have something Gopher-football related to talk about...and then about nine things happen at once. Or three. Two more players have left the team, they might be able to sell booze to the cake-eaters at TCF Stadium after all, and yes, the boys are finally practicing.

We'll start with the exodus of two more Gopher players, as junior center Trey Davis and redshirt frosh corner Kerry Lewis have left the program.

Davis, who started six games in his career, will concentrate on track and field. The Farmington, Minn., native finished fourth for the Gophers in the shot put at the Big Ten Indoor Track and Field Championships this year.
Lewis, who redshirted last season, decided to transfer to another school.

I don't have any behind-the-scenes info on the decision of these two, but it seems puzzling to me. Both guys, and especially Davis, would have been competing for playing time, if not a starting spot: I could understand both of them wanting to go a different direction AFTER spring camp if they found themselves way down the depth chart, but to quit before camp even begins? Anyone else find that a bit strange? Davis would have certainly been in the mix to start at center, so either shot put just became more important to him, or he lost the love for football, or maybe he didn't have as good a chance to play as we thought? I guess we'll never know.

As for Lewis, I was excited to see what he could do. He was a three-star prospect coming out of high school with a pretty impressive list of schools that were after him, so to lose a fast, athletic kid like that hurts. Haven't heard where Lewis is transferring to, but to me it's definitely a loss, especially with how shallow the defensive back depth is on the team already.


So the rich people in the luxury suites at TCF Bank Stadium, Mariucci and Williams Arena might get their booze after all. Sen. Sandy Pappas, DFL-St Paul is sponsoring a bill that would repeal the ridiculous law passed last year that if alcohol is to be sold at the three U stadiums then it has to be sold everywhere. While I still think it's naive and way too old fashioned to believe that not selling booze in the regular section is going to stop minors from getting it or sneaking it in (I don't say that to endorse underage drinking, I say it because the pro sporting venues in town sell alcohol and minors attend those events. Yet the pro teams aren't worried about the image it presents or that the minors are going to get their hands on booze because they ID everyone who buys a beer. If you ID everyone at a Gopher game who wants to buy booze then you're doing everything you can to stop minors from drinking. Of course I'm biased since I'll never be able to afford the cake-eater suites but would love to have a beer while watching the Gophers), this is a step in the right direction.

My wife works for The U, and they're slashing budgets all over the place. This would be easy revenue for the Gophers to make and would hopefully help stop further cuts. The bill cleared its first hurdle as it was approved unanimously by the Senate Higher Education Budget Division, and will now rests with another committee. In an election year, I would think this one has a chance as The U needs all the revenue it can get, and this one clearly has public support from Gopher fans and alumni.


And finally, let's talk some football. Kent Youngblood has a few notes from the half hour of practice he and the media were allowed to watch yesterday. His comments in bold and italics and my comments below:

1. Punter Dan Orseske, fresh off his medical redshirt (remember, he got mono early last season) was absolutely booming the ball during warmups. I mean booming.

There is no position I care less about right now for the Gophs than the punter. The only thing I care less about in the world right now than the punter is probably women's basketball, but I'd have to think about that one.

2. Here was the first-string offensve line, from left tackle to right tackle: Dom Alford, Chris Bunders, D.J. Burris, Matt Carufel, Jeff Wills.

With Davis now gone, it's not surprising in the least to see these five starting spring camp with the first team. While they were a trainwreck last year, they do have experience on their side, and hopefully some of the simpler schemes and run-emphasis OC Jeff Horton is installing will work wonders for these guys. But I'm also all for the young guys pushing this group, and it'll be interesting to see if these same five start in the spring game next month.

3. The starting defensive line, on Day 1: Defensive ends Ra'Shede Hageman and D.L. Wilhite with tackles Jewhan Edwards and Brandon Kirksey.

On a scale of 1-10 how excited are you to see 292 pound (the website has him at 272 but Brewster claimed in an interview last week he's up to 292. Good gravy!) freshman Ra-Shede Hageman's name penciled in as our starting DE? I'm at about a 27 right now. The kid is a freak and I can't wait to see him wreak havoc on Big Ten backfields in the fall. Just take it easy on our own guys over the next month please. Oh and I did mention he's a redshirt freshman and 292 pounds? 292?!?! Ok just checking. Wilhite on the other side has me almost as excited, as he really played well towards the end of last season. We really struggled to replace Willie VanDeSteeg's passing rushing skills last year, and the answer this season is hopefully going to be these two flying off the edges. There are states smaller than the 325 pound Jewhan Edwards, and I'm hoping he becomes the run stuffer we'll need against- well against pretty much everybody in the Big Ten schedule this seasons since everybody except maybe Michigan State can run the ball.

4. Cornerbacks were Michael Carter and Ryan Collado.

Zero surprise here either. Again, Collado starts the spring as the starter by default because he's a senior, but with his man coverage skills- or complete lack thereof- we're in trouble if he's still the starter when the games start counting.

5. The linebackers: Mike Rallis on the strong side, Gary Tinsley in the middle, Keanon Cooper on the weak side.

Tinsley and Cooper are automatic starters, and I think/hope/pray both have a shot at being all-conference this year. Rallis, the converted defensive back, is going to get pushed big-time by soph (and Cooper's Skyline high school teammate) Spencer Reeves and RFr Brent Singleton. That's three pretty talented guys for one spot, and of course doesn't even include Sam Maresh. Pretty nice position to be in when getting anything from someone with Maresh's potential as in impact middle linebacker is simply gravy because you've got plenty of talent ready to go. Have I mentioned how excited I am for our defense this year? Have I? I think I just broke the 1-10 scale with a 432. Good times.

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