Camp Blog Day 9: Gophers Hold First Scrimmage

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Day 9 Photo Gallery on Flickr

Last week, Golden Gopher head coach Jerry Kill referenced preseason games in the NFL and the lack thereof in college football.

"Our preseason game is USC," Kill said.

While college football teams don't play preseason games, Tuesday morning's scrimmage at TCF Bank Stadium was the next-closest thing for the Gophers. Preseason games in the National Football League are used to help make personnel decisions and to clean up execution before the games start counting in the win-loss column. Much of the same could be said for the Gophers' scrimmages.

Tuesday's first scrimmage of fall camp had its share of mistakes. But that's what practice is for, according to Kill.

"I don't think I've tolerated mistakes very well," Kill said, referencing the first 10 practices of the fall and the 15 sessions back during the spring. "Nobody does. We're not playing with 25 juniors and seniors. We're playing with a lot of young people. They're going to make (mistakes). We've got to just make sure they don't continue to make them.

"And if we're going to make them, I'd rather do it on Tuesday afternoon on the 10th practice than on game day," Kill said. "So you train them. We'll show them what they did wrong and point it out to them. Hopefully they'll get it corrected. If they don't get it corrected and they keep making the same mistakes, it's hard to play that guy."

In addition to a handful of mistakes, there were a few injuries which put a bit of a damper on the enthusiasm of the first scrimmage of fall camp. But in typical Coach Kill fashion, he brought it all back to building the team.

"Our starting center (Ryan Wynn) got hurt right off the bat," Kill said. "So you're underneath somebody different and I think it took a little while (for the offense) to get into rhythm. But I've been doing this for 29 years and every time you have a first scrimmage ... that's pretty much how it goes.  

"We had a few guys get banged," Kill continued. "When you get a few key players hurt, it's probably good in camp for the next guy to have to step in. MarQueis (Gray) had to get underneath another center ... and it took a little while for him to get used to it. But that's going to happen. You've got to be ready for those kinds of things."

While there will be plenty to clean up and a few athletes will need to get healthy after the scrimmage, Coach Kill believes the Gophers got a lot accomplished Tuesday.

" I think what happened today is pretty much what needed to happen," Kill said. "We'll take that film back (and evaluate it). We've been going at it now for about (10 practices). We haven't backed off of them much. I think they're a little tired. But that's a mental game. You've got to push through it. But we'll get better and it's good film, certainly for us to take a look at ... and see what we need to do to get better."

Junior linebacker Mike Rallis said he was pleased with how the defense played at times Tuesday. But he cautioned that there is always room for improvement.

"I thought we did a good job," Rallis said. "But we've got to get more consistent. The offense got some plays in, too. A lot of times when we look at the film, it isn't what the offense did necessarily, but what we didn't do. That's the big thing we've got to get fixed, is just the consistency."

While the offense wasn't as productive as they would have liked, senior running back Duane Bennett had a good day. He picked up large chunks of yardage on a handful of carries, despite a fairly limited number of repetitions.

"There's an urgency on the offensive side of the ball," Bennett said. "The biggest thing for us is to just get those young guys ready to go, because we're going to need everybody when we go out to L.A. (for the season-opener at USC on Sept. 3). But I feel like we're right on track. We're right where Coach Kill wants us to be. As far as the offense goes, we're taking it day by day and learning it. We're doing some good things and we've still got some things we can learn and do better. But for where we are, this far in camp, I'm very comfortable with where we are and still get better."

Notes:

>Just a reminder that practices will remain open through this Saturday's scrimmage at TCF Bank Stadium. The practice schedule can be found here on GopherSports.com by clicking here.

>Wednesday will see the team go back to a two-a-day schedule. The first practice will be at 8:50 a.m., with the second session set to commence at 4:50 p.m. The morning session will be in shells (helmet and shoulder pads),while the afternoon practice will be in full pads.

>Coach Kill mentioned that the team punted very well during Tuesday's practice. He also had praise for the young offensive group that got some work at the end of the scrimmage, saying he was proud of their tempo in and out of the huddle.

>There have been a few number changes on the special teams. Long snappers Dave Ramlet and Jared Hartman will now wear Nos. 96 and 40, respectively. Kicker Chris Hawthorne has changed to No. 7.

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