- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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We're wrapping up the three Big Ten spring games from over the weekend. Let's review Minnesota's Maroon and Gold Game from Saturday.
Star of the game: Sophomore defensive end Michael Amaefula had four tackles and a pair of "sacks," helping keep the Gold team scoreless.
How it went down: Offensive fireworks? Not so much. The Maroon squad beat the Gold 3-0, with 21-yard field goal from Chris Hawthorne providing all of the scoring. Though that may sound rough, the Gophers were encouraged by improved play, especially on the defensive end.
Minnesota's defense had a difficult time stopping opposing passing attacks last season but did well against its own quarterbacks in the scrimmage. There were seven pass breakups on the day.
"We've got some guys in the secondary that can run, and we're getting a little bigger in the secondary, which we needed to continue to do," head coach Jerry Kill told reporters. "I can tell you just physically watching that, that was better."
On offense, starting quarterback MarQueis Gray completed 4 of 8 passes for 62 yards, and backup Max Shortell went 4-of-10 for 68 yards and rushed for 30 yards, showing off much improved mobility. Gray sat out the second half.
"I felt like I did a lot better than last year, taking control of the huddle and being a leader," Gray said. "That's one of the positive things I look forward to [this season]."
It was a tough day for prized recruit Philip Nelson, who went 0-for-6 and was sacked three times.
Brandon Green led all the receivers with three catches for 59 yards, including a 35-yard grab that was the game's longest play. Freshman JoJuan Harper finished with a game-high 44 yards on nine carries.
Overall, the Gophers showed off more depth and better competitiveness than they had early in Kill's first season. The victorious Maroon team got a postgame steak dinner, while the losing Gold team members were served beans.