Full pads went on for the first time in the University of Minnesota football team's 2011 preseason camp Friday. So, surely the intensity was ratcheted up a notch and practice was much different than it has been for the first four days. Right?
Not so fast, said head coach Jerry Kill after Friday's workout.
"We haven't had full pads on, but we didn't practice any different than we did the last three days in shells," Kill said. "We've been in shells. The only thing we weren't in is pants. We practice exactly the same way. Except for the last 10 minutes, we didn't change one ounce of practice and what we do."
Kill mentioned that last 10 minutes being the one difference in the practice. That difference came in the form of the team actually getting some live scrimmage-type work in. Three different offensive units got to work against three different defensive units at the end of the workout.
During that scrimmage session, the offense faced a second-and-eight situation. If the offense recorded a first down, the offense won and the defense did up-downs. Conversely, if the defense held, it's unit was the winner of that go-round and the offense was doing up-downs.
Coach Kill never likes to make too many proclamations until after he has gone inside to watch the tape. But he did see enough to know that there were some positives and negatives on both sides of the ball.
"We've been going at each other and I think the offense has moments, the defense has moments," Kill said. "Some drills are set differently. I go in and evaluate the film. Until I can see everybody work, it's hard for me to comment. I can tell you this, the kids are working harder and we're farther along than we were in the spring. That's the good news. Now, we've got to continue to do it. Are they going to be able to do it tomorrow and the next day and the next day? But so far, they're trying to do what we ask them to do."
One of the highlights of Friday's session was once again the board drills. Coach Kill explained his philosophy of why he likes that drill.
"It's technique. That's football," Kill said. "The guy that can get his hands inside on somebody and got his feet moving and (has) good technique, that guy's going to win. It's about leverage. It's about hand placement. It's about feet. It's about the first step. That's football. That's fundamentals that sometimes we forget to teach. That's not a drill to see how tough somebody is. It's who can get their hands inside and keep their hands moving on contact, because that's football. We like to do it early. It gets everybody's motor running a little bit and then we go right into practice.Notes:
>Saturday will mark the first two-a-day session of fall camp for the Gophers. Coach Kill said both workouts are expected to be a little shorter than the first five practices have been. He said the early session will focus on special teams and some individual work, while the second practice will be geared more toward team offense and defense.
>The Gophers practiced with officials on the field Friday. There were a few yellow penalty markers flying, but it didn't seem like an inordinate amount for this early in camp.
>One of the biggest crowd reactions on Friday came when safety Shady Salamon laid a solid lick on a wide receiver to break up a pass. Unfortunately, the play was one of those to draw a flag. Officials will be cracking down on the types of hits allowed on defenseless receivers this season.
>Following their evening meal, the Gophers heard two Navy SEALS speak about mental toughness, determination and other attributes they have both learned and taught that could translate over to helping a football team make its way through the dog days of camp. More on the presentation from the SEALS in tomorrow's blog.
>Saturday's practice sessions are slated to take place at 8:45 and 4:45 at the Gibson-Nagurski Football Complex.