Springtime for Gophers
April 11, 2015

Approximately 10,000 sun-drenched football fans watched the University of Minnesota’s annual Spring Game and learned little or nothing about the 2015 edition of their Gophers.

Minnesota opens the season on September 3 against highly-rated TCU, and the Frogs’ coach Gary Patterson likely has a subscription to the Big Ten cable network, Gopher coach Jerry Kill played his cards close to his vest.

This was a scrimmage, not a game in the sense that the contest pitted the gold team (offense) against the white team (defense). In other words, the gold team always had the ball and scored four times on the defense including a 56-yard field goal by Ryan Santoso.

The golds started off by giving the rock to Rodrick (Williams) and watching the newly-trimmed running back chew up yardage Minnesota-style. Williams used the off-season to lose 20 pounds and bulled his way for 12 yards into the end zone. After that quarterback and Ben Affleck lookalike Mitch Leidner made mostly futile attempts to imitate a quality passing game. He finished with five completions out of 11 attempts. The real Affleck might have done better.

Leidner and backup Chris Streveler were given a gaggle of new receivers including redshirts E.J. Sardinha, Isiah Gentry, Michael Conway, Jacob Kirsh, Will Reger, Melvin Holland, Desmond Gant, Brian Smith, Noah Scarver, and Louis Tuszynski. With the exception of Sardinha (four catches), none stood out. Perhaps the problem lies with the passers, not the would-be pass catchers.

This could be written off as a meaningless scrimmage were it not for the fact that more was expected of the passing game, especially since Kill chose not to play key members of his experienced secondary unit on defense.

As for the rest of the defense, sophomore linebacker Cody Poock had 17 tackles and junior tackle Hank Ekpe had a pair of quarterback sacks. Newcomers Jon Celestin, Chris Wipson, and Ace Rogers also stood out for the white squad.

In keeping with the latest college football trends, Kill had his team experiment with the no-huddle offense, not because the Gophers will imitate the University of Oregon, but rather owing to the fact that Kill’s team never had a no-huddle offense.

“We tried to experiment a little bit. You’ve got to stay on top of things,” said the coach. Lack of a no-huddle hurt the team last season when it was trying to play catch-up in the fourth quarter. Don’t expect Minnesota to drop its grind-it-out, kill-the-clock offense this season. “We’re not losing our identity,” Kill said. “We are who we are. What we need is depth right now.”

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