Following Monday morning's workout, Gopher Football head coach Jerry Kill reminded his players that this was a very important week. There are two scrimmages (Tuesday and Saturday) this week. Many thoughts about who will be playing and where they will play will begin to be formed this week.
Kill told the group that although they may get tired, they need to keep their mental focus this week.
Despite that, it was a good day of work with a good-natured attitude from the head coach on down through the players Monday.
Case in point ... it wasn't readily apparent whether Coach Kill knew one of his top linebackers was lurking in the background of Monday evening's post-practice interview session. But when the Star-Tribune's Phil Miller asked if Coach Kill would "agree that Sam linebacker is the weakness of the defense," someone nodded slightly toward the long-haired linebacker just a bit and tipped Kill off.
Coach Kill then looked at Rallis ... paused ever so slightly and then with a sly smile, he disagreed with Miller's question.
"Well, I gotta be honest with you ... at Sam linebacker, we're pretty darn good," Kill said. "I feel good about that. I don't say that very often. I think, not only does the guy standing back there need to get a haircut ... but the guys working with, behind him and so forth ... linebacking-wise, I think there are some guys doing some good things right now."
After an off day from practice Sunday, Coach Kill said the team did a nice job while receiving a lot of information and working a good deal on special teams in the morning session. He said they responded well to a lackluster start to the afternoon workout and finished up pretty well.
"I think things went well," Kill said. "We had a good teaching practice this morning. I thought we got a lot done in teaching the techniques and fundamentals. We spent a ton of time on the kicking game. I thought we punted the ball as well as we have since I've been here. I thought this morning's practice looked solid and good.
"This evening's practice ... my first impression was that it was a little sloppy at first," Kill continued. But I thought it got cleaner as we go."
Of course, Kill said there was a good reason as to why the later practice might not quite have been up to par early on.
"We're putting them in different situations," Kill said. "We did a lot of stuff in the red zone and things of that nature. We installed some different things. When you did that, it's going to be a little more of a learning process. I think the kids are doing a good job."
With the popularity of the open practices, Coach Kill also announced Monday that he would allow fans to continue to attend the Gophers' workouts through the end of this week. Practices will be open through Saturday morning's scrimmage at TCF Bank Stadium.
"Bobby Ross (former NFL and college head coach), who I respect a lot ... I've known him since I was the head coach at Saginaw Valley State," Kill said. "I remember when we had (Detroit Lions) camp (at Saginaw Valley State), he would open camp up. I (asked) 'Why do you do that, Coach Ross.' He said, 'because the kids practice harder.' If we put them on the spot. They don't want to be embarrassed. So I promise you they're practicing harder because there's 150-200 people here every day."
More details on practice times and locations will be announced Tuesday at GopherSports.com.