Coach Jerry Kill wrapped up his first spring practice session at Minnesota on Saturday with a scrimmage at TCF Bank Stadium. It was a pretty vanilla exercise, but for those interested in the scoring, the defense limited the offense to a touchdown and two field goals.
Let's take a quick look at the scrimmage.
Quotable: "The team has to take where they left off today and when we start two-a-day camp, we better be better. In other words, what they do this summer, I can't go back and start over. We have to start from where we left off today and keep climbing. They're going to have to do a great job this summer in taking care of business and doing what they need to do to get better. So we will see what they are all about." -- coach Jerry Kill
Veteran Duane Bennett was the first running back to take the field and had seven carries for 22 yards in the scrimmage. Redshirt freshman Donnell Kirkwood received the bulk of the work and recorded 65 rush yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. Kirkwood had a 28-yard scamper but also fumbled after hauling in a screen pass for the lone turnover of the scrimmage. Senior DeLeon Eskridge had nine carries for 26 yards.
MarQueis Gray exited the spring as Minnesota's top quarterback and barring a preseason shakeup, he'll start the season under center. But Kill hasn't handed the job to Gray, and other players could push the talented junior. Moses Alipate had a nice performance Saturday, completing 9 of 12 passes for 51 yards. Gray completed 11 of 18 passes for 67 yards and added a 20-yard scramble. Freshman Max Shortell enters the mix this summer.
Minnesota finished 10th in the Big Ten in field-goal percentage (.647) in 2010 and would have been last in many leagues (thank goodness for Michigan). For this reason Gophers fans had to be pleased when Chris Hawthorne, a transfer from NC State, connected on a 50-yard field-goal attempt. Hawthorne also connected from 30 yards out. "Was that a 50-yarder? That's good," Kill said. "You can win a lot of games in the kicking game."