Senior linebacker Keanon Cooper will honor the late Gary Tinsley by wearing No. 51 tonight at UNLV.
Senior linebacker Keanon Cooper will wear No. 51 to honor his former teammate, the late Gary Tinsley tonight when Minnesota begins the 2012 season at UNLV.
Tinsley, who was a senior linebacker for the Gophers last year, passed away in April due to an enlarged heart. Tinsley wore No. 51 while at Minnesota. Cooper and Tinsley were roommates last year and Cooper gave a eulogy at Tinsley's funeral in Florida.
Cooper's jersey for tonight's game will not have any name on the back. Cooper will switch back to his regular No. 4 when Minnesota plays its first home game against New Hampshire on Sept. 8 at TCF Bank Stadium.
University of Minnesota volleyball coach Hugh McCutcheon held his first official practice today at the Sports Pavilion. Since being named the Gopher head coach on Feb. 10, 2011, McCutcheon has now officially completed his USA Volleyball duties and joined the Gopher program on Thursday, just in time for the home opener and the Diet Coke Classic.
Minnesota ran drills, worked on technique and scrimmaged throughout practice. Known as a great communicator, McCutcheon gathered everyone in periodically during practice to provide another teaching moment. With practice running from 8 a.m.-11 a.m., McCutcheon then met with local media members.
Minnesota volleyball opens the home season this weekend as it hosts the Diet Coke Classic, Aug. 31-Sept. 1 at the Sports Pavilion. Minnesota hosts Albany, Long Island University Brooklyn and Miami (OH) this weekend. The Golden Gophers host six matches during the tournament, the first starting at 5 p.m. Friday with Miami and Albany competing. Minnesota plays LIU Brooklyn on Friday, followed by Miami at 10 a.m. Saturday and Albany Saturday night at 8 p.m. An all-tournament winner and all-tournament team will be named following the conclusion of the final match Saturday.
Fans can follow the Gopher volleyball program through the free audio link option on gophersports.com. Minnesota will also provide live in-game chats for all Gopher matches during the tournament.
LAS VEGAS, NV - To capitalize on the excitement of the Golden Gophers beginning the 2012 season in Las Vegas against UNLV, GopherSports.com and Park Nicollet Health Services sponsored the Countdown to Vegas video contest this summer, which included a trip to Vegas including a hotel on the strip, a roundtrip flight for two, and two tickets to the season opener.
Bronwyn Miller, Jenny Luttenberger, and their winning "Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures" video won them a free trip to Las Vegas, courtesy of Park Nicollet and Gopher Sports Properties, and GopherSports.com met up with them at Dick's Last Resort in Excalibur Hotel and Casino to see how they were enjoying Sin City.
"It's the best first time in Vegas that anybody could ask for," said Miller, making her first trip to Las Vegas. "I couldn't be more excited that, and I feel like I have a little piece of Minnesota with me."
It's hard not to feel the buzz when the Minnesota Rouser is being sung every hour by die-hard Gopher fans like Miller and Luttenberger. Miller is humble about her Gopher love, but she admits to "probably pushing the limit" on being obsessed. Luttenberger, a 2012 U of M graduate, has also pushed that limit by getting season tickets all four of her college years and going to almost every home football game.
After more than 30 entries, the Countdown to Vegas video contest was a hard-fought battle. After hearing about the contest via Twitter, she reached out to Luttenberger immediately, but had to resort to using a friend's boyfriend after Luttenberger backed out "at least five times."
Both Gopher fans are excited to see what is to come in 2012, but in typical Minnesotan fashion, Miller doesn't want to jinx anything by talking about specific players. "There are a lot of players that are looking really good, but we hope that they can pull it off in this hot, hot heat," she says.
So how do these contest winners think the Gophers will fare today? After some discussion, both agreed that the Gophers will come out ahead 28 - 13 for the victory.
Minnesota begins the 2012 season at UNLV tomorrow night. We spoke with Rebel beat reporter Mark Anderson of the Las Vegas Review-Journal to get the inside scoop on UNLV. You can follow Mark on Twitter @MarkAnderson65. GopherSports: Mark, thanks for taking the time to speak with us. What can you tell us about UNLV? Seems like the Rebels and Minnesota are pretty similar teams right now and both schools are trying to build their programs.
Mark Anderson: In my story, I called Minnesota 'UNLV's soul mate of the Big Ten.' There are very similar philosophies by both coaches. They both seem like they want to build young and keep the staffs together.
Like Minnesota, there is real optimism at UNLV this season and I think it is genuine optimism. I don't think it is just playing a side. I do think coach thinks that this is a program that will start improving. I don't think that necessarily means that UNLV goes to a bowl game this season, but that the program is moving forward from where it has been. UNLV has won only two games in six of the last eight seasons. If they can win four games this season that would be big in showing that this staff has it going in the right direction. It is still a very young team.
I think what people want right now is hope. They want to feel like there is something out there that is better than today. Lately, fans have not felt that way with UNLV football. If they can start feeling that way this season, just like in Minnesota, I think it would be huge. It does not mean having a big season. It just means showing that there is light out there.
GS: From looking at last year's stats and reading season previews, it seems like UNLV's running game is its calling card. Would you agree?
MA: UNLV has one of the deepest running games in the Mountain West conference. They have two players Dionza Bradford and Tim Cornett who each had three 100-yard rushing games last season. Cornett is the starter. Bradford has been hobbled by a sprained ankle, but he will be in the mix. Bradley Randle is another really good running back. He was actually on of the top recruits for UNLV two or three years ago. He was the nation's No. 50 running back, so there is a lot expected of him.
So UNLV has three guys who they can really count on. I expect big things out of Cornett. I have been really impressed by him in training camp. If they just gave him the ball, I could see him being a 1,000-yard rusher. But they do like to spread it around and those three make it a deep position.
GS: What can you tell us about Nick Sherry, their freshman quarterback who was named the starter?
MA: He is a redshirt freshman and looked really good in camp. He has a strong arm and showed a great ability to sell the play-action, so if UNLV can get the running game going there might be some opportunities for Sherry to go deep with that play-action. I think they will let him air it out a little bit. I don't think they will go crazy and don't expect 35 passes, but I don't think they will necessarily hold him back either. It won't be a deal where he throws the ball 12 or 14 times. I could see him throwing the ball more than 20 times. I think they want to see what they got with him. At the same time, I think they will rely more on their running game than passing game because that is where their experience is. That is where the strength is supposed to be right now.
GS: Minnesota's MarQueis Gray is a big quarterback, but Sherry is too at 6-5, 235 pounds. Is Sherry mobile like Gray or is your more traditional quarterback?
MA: He is more of the classic drop back. He showed a little bit of ability during practice to move with his feet. He will run if he has to, but I think that will be a last resort type of thing. Backup Caleb Herring has much better running ability. Bobby Hauck likes the traditional pro-style offense, so I don't think you will see Sherry run too much.
GS: Coach Kill said during his weekly press conference that Minnesota will prepare for both quarterbacks. Do you anticipate UNLV playing more than one quarterback?
MA: I think the intent going in is to play Sherry and let it be his team and his offense. I really think they want to ride him. I do not sense any plan for them to mix it up at all. In training camp, Sherry took almost all the first-team snaps. I really think they will go with him. Herring is proven, so I could see them bringing him in during certain situations. But I do not see it being a two-quarterback system. I think it is Sherry's offense.
GS: How has UNLV's defense improved since last season?
MA: The defensive line seems much better, especially the ends. That is something where UNLV has really been vulnerable the past few seasons. They have not been able to get the line play and the opposing quarterbacks had all day to find receivers and took advantage of that. I do not think UNLV's defensive line will become one of the best in the country, but I think there will be noticeable improvement there. They have some athleticism and size at the ends and I see those players doing pretty well. That is probably where they will not only be the most improved, but that will probably be the strongest part of their defense.
GS: What kind of environment can Minnesota fans expect at the game? Rumor has it that a healthy number of Gopher fans are making the trip.
MA: It will not be an intimidating atmosphere because you are right, there will be a lot of Minnesota fans. From that standpoint, crowd noise will not be an issue. The main issue will be dealing with the heat. Even at night it is still pretty hot. Even for those of us who have lived here for a long time it is still hot. That is something you really have to prepare for. I am sure the coaching staff is well aware of that and that the players will be well hydrated throughout the game. But the heat here can be pretty oppressive and that will be the biggest issue as far as something unique for Minnesota.
The University of Minnesota women's basketball team headed to the "Great Minnesota Get-Together" Tuesday to make its annual appearance on the stage at the University of Minnesota Building, but that was not the only fun the Golden Gophers, Pam Borton and her staff were able to have, as they took full advantage of their time at the
Over the last week, Gopher fans were able to vote for what State Fair food they wanted Coach Borton to eat in a poll conducted on the Golden Gophers Women's Basketball (facebook.com/GophersWBB) Facebook page, and, on the final day, beef tongue tacos pulled ahead and took the win.
Not only did Coach Borton try, and enjoy, her tacos, but so did Rachel Banham, Kionna Kellogg, assistant coach Kelly Roysland, associate head coach Curtis Loyd, assistant coach Ted Riverso, Mikayla Bailey and Sari Noga!
The players and coaches were all able to stop at their favorite food stands and enjoy their favorite State Fair food, with the squad making stops for bacon on a stick, turkey legs, fried pickles, Sweet Martha's Cookies and some Minnesota sweet corn.
Borton and Banham also had media obligations throughout the day. Below you will find a list of all of the stops that the duo made:
10:15 a.m. - Coach Borton appeared live on 1500 ESPN with Judd and Phun (Listen)
11:25 a.m. - Coach Borton appeared live on KARE11 Today (Watch)
11:30 a.m. - Gophers and Coach Borton appeared on stage at the U of M Building
1:15 p.m. - Rachel Banham appeared live on 1500 ESPN with Reusse and Mackey (Listen)
5:20 p.m. - Coach Borton appeared live on WCCO TV with Mark Rosen
Fans crowded the stage outside the University of Minnesota building on Tuesday afternoon at the Minnesota State Fair to interact with members of the Gopher men's hockey program.
Head coach Don Lucia was joined by Seth Helgeson, Zach Budish and Nick Bjugstad for a Q&A session with Gopher fans.
You gave us the questions, the Gophers gave us the answers. Here are some of our favorites:
Lucia on Minnesota's final year in the WCHA...
"Obviously we have a lot of history with the WCHA, and we want to celebrate that history in our final year in the league. That being said, we're excited about our future in the Big Ten and developing new rivalries while hopefully keeping some of our classic ones as well. We like our team, and we're excited for this season."
Helgeson on expectations for the 2012-13 season...
"We've got a lot of solid guys coming back on the blue line and up front, and you probably can't find two big guys like these two (Bjugstad and Budish), wheeling and dealing, anywhere else. It's definitely going to be exciting out there this year."
Bjugstad on his decision to return to the Gophers for his junior season...
"It was a tough decision, but my heart stayed here. We have a great group of guys, and we are excited about this season."
Budish on his favorite game from last season...
"Definitely the regional final against North Dakota. They kind of embarrassed us a week before, and it was nice to get back at them. It was just a great game for us...so much fun and such a great atmosphere."
Lucia on the 10th anniversary of the 2003 NCAA title...
"That was a special year...repeating as national champions hadn't happened for a long time, and it was a lot of fun. We had a great group of guys, and it will be nice to honor them later this year for their success."
Lucia on replacing Kent Patterson in net...
"It's going to be tough replacing an All-American like Kent, but we're confident in the guys on our roster. Michael Shibrowski will be a junior this year, and Adam Wilcox is coming in as a freshman out of South St. Paul. Those guys will both have a chance to see the ice, and they'll battle for playing time."
Helgeson on what food he was looking forward to eating at the fair...
"This is honestly my first time at the state fair to tell you the truth. I think I'm going to have the turkey leg...I've heard it's a big portion, and I'm a fan of having a lot of food at one time."
Sari Noga enters her junior season as one of the Golden Gophers' top three-point shooting threats, as she connected on 21 of the three-point attempts last season. Her total ranked third on the squad last season and is second-best among Minnesota's returners. Here, the guard from Parkers Prairie, Minn., shares 25 things that Gopher fans may not know about her.
I am not a fan of birds, specifically crows and pigeons
My first car was a blue Volkswagen Beetle
I can now drive a stick shift
I like to go fishing, but will not touch the fish
I am going to become a funeral director after college
I often repeat stories to people without realizing it
My favorite colors are pink and blue
I was once the second tallest in my grade during elementary school
I cry watching sad tv shows and movies
My first job was waitressing in my hometown cafe
I want to be able to travel to all 50 states before I die
I am related to a famous Opera singer, Geraldine Farrar
In my ancestry, one of my many times great grandmother's brother was an advisor to King Henry the VIII :)
I am creeped by all kinds of insects
I often repeat stories without realizing it ;)
I am gullible
My favorite Avenger is the HULK
My favorite book is "Bridge to Terabithia"
My favorite movie in the last few years is "Bridesmaids"
I am a diehard GLEEK
I actually wish I could sing like Rachel Berry (Lea Michele)
I helped rescue and bring a rare dark morphed, red tailed hawk to the Raptor Center at the U of M
Minnesota football kicks off one week from today when the Gophers open the college football season at UNLV on Aug. 30.
If you cannot make it to Las Vegas to cheer on the Gophers then you should head on over to Joe Senser's in Roseville (2350 Cleveland Avenue North) for the athletic department's official viewing party. In addition to the game, which begins at 10 p.m., fans will enjoy food and beverage specials. They will also have the chance to win great Gopher giveaways, including Gopher football tickets, t-shirts and a VIP table for the first Coach Kill Radio Show on Sept. 6, 2012.
There is no need to RSVP for this event. All you have to do is show up in your maroon and gold and enjoy the game and festivities with fellow Gopher fans.
"We're looking forward to going out to the desert and kind of seeing where we're at.
"And we're looking forward to it, and I know the kids are probably at a point where we've been hitting each other, and I think they're looking forward to hitting somebody else.
"We're a huge unknown because we're sitting here taking a very, very young team. I think on our travel list we have 12 seniors, so we're a very young football team.
"We're going to the desert. You look, it's going to be 90 degrees. We're going to have to be two deep in everywhere we go and they're going to have to play and through that I think we'll sort some things out from playing.
"We're building a program, and this is our second year with one recruiting class, and so you know, we're trying to take the next step forward.
"I'm excited for them, and I'm certainly you know, feel good about their preparation at this point in time. I feel like they've done everything we've asked. So I think the harder you prepare, the better you feel going into a game, so I think our preparation to this point has been good.
"We've had a few warm days, but nothing like you're going to have out there. There's no way you can prepare for something like that.
"Playing on Thursday night, being the opening to college football, all those things help and certainly in recruiting. Certainly throughout the country. And it does nothing but help the University of Minnesota.
"This is the fun time. This is the preparation and then they just got to go out and do it. Games are won or lost right now in the preparation part.
"I think any time you got a quarterback (Nick Sherry) like that, you want to keep him off balance and don't want him to get comfortable. Keep him uncomfortable as much as you can.
"But again, they got a quarterback also on their roster that's played. I've known Coach Hauck a long time. So I know he's a good ball coach, and all the stuff that's being said, you better be prepared for both of them, just not one of them. So we'll prepare for both.
"(Coach Hauck) is doing the same type of thing we're trying to do here, trying to turn around a program and create a positive culture and those kind of things.
"I talked to him (coach Hauck) we were together in Arizona visiting each other at a function, and I talked to him quite a long time, and I think he really feels like he's been there for two years. This is year three. This is where he feels like they can make a big jump. They've had some younger kids, feels like they're starting to buy into what they're doing, so I think he feels good about where they're headed, and I think they feel much better about their defense.
"The first game, I think that's why coaches' stomachs are rolling a little bit now, and get a little nervous because you just don't know what the unexpected is going to be.
"I'm just glad we're getting to play. Would I like to play them all at home? You bet. I mean opportunities when you play at home, your chances for winning are a lot better when you're playing at home, certainly in the first game.
"We got a great opportunity. We're playing Thursday night, on TV; opening up college football. It's a great opportunity for our school.
"I think we've got a lot of people going out there. If you're going to play one on the road there's a lot of people enjoy Vegas. Besides football, there may be some out there right now as we speak enjoying Las Vegas."
Eventually, he'd win a national championship at the University of Minnesota. Eventually, he'd take home the Hobey Baker Award. Eventually, he'd go on to a long career in the NHL. But before all that, Jordan Leopold was a prep skater at Robbinsdale Armstrong High School.
The Gopher great and current Buffalo Sabres defenseman was on hand Wednesday night for the City of New Hope Ice Arena Renovation Grand Opening Celebration and helped his former team show off it's newly remodeled home (to be fair, Robbinsdale Cooper High School also calls the rink home).
As a prep, Leopold tallied 85 total points (35 goals, 50 assists) in two years with the school before heading to Ann Arbor to skate with the USNDT program. His college career speaks for itself (including being on the ice for quite possibly the greatest goal in school history).
As cool as it was having Leopold in the house for the unveiling and the open skate to break in the new ice, the facility itself stood out alone as the star of the night.
Repeatedly referred to as one of the nicest community rinks in the metro area on Wednesday night, the New Hope Ice Arena recently underwent massive remodeling including replacing two Freon-based ice systems with a shared, state-of-the-art energy-efficient system, a roof replacement and updating of much of the off-ice areas for the facility among other behind-the-scenes upgrades and improvements. The changes will have significant environmental and economical impacts, according to those involved with the project.
Kudos to all involved in the remodeling, make sure to check it out if you're in the area. Also keep your eyes open for some exclusive video content with Leopold coming soon.
There is one day left of on-field practices during fall camp. So today we begin to wind down our camp coverage and will start getting ready for the regular season. The Gophers had last Sunday off, so the team ventured out to Dave & Busters to partake in some competitive fun. The guys over at GopherGridiron.com tagged along and put together a video of their exploits.
The Gophers have been back on the field this week and practiced for two hours this morning. After practice we caught up with coach Kill and offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover. Minnesota is in full game preparation mode now, which means the coaches have a tough decision to make: Who will travel to UNLV?
Coach Kill talks about why today and tomorrow will have a big impact on making that decision, while Limegrover discusses Minnesota's skill players and true freshman who may make an impact.
Have a question for the Minnesota Men's Hockey Team? Come to the "Great Minnesota Get-Together" and ask the Gophers yourself!
Members of the Gophers men's hockey team will be at the Minnesota State Fair at the University of Minnesota Building at the corner of Dan Patch Avenue and Underwood Streets from 2:00-2:45 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 28.
Junior captain Zach Budish will join senior assistant captain Seth Helgeson and junior assistant captain Nick Bjugstad at the university's building on Tuesday afternoon. The three players will be joined by head coach Don Lucia for a 45-minutes question-and-answer session with fans and the general public.
Mike Rallis echoes the familiar words that almost every senior who has played college football has said at least once.
"Seems like yesterday I was walking through those doors as a freshman," said Rallis, who is now a redshirt senior. "But at the same time I have been here for a long time. This is the only home I know so I am just trying to soak in every last moment of it."
For Rallis he just does not want to enjoy the moment. He knows this year is his last opportunity to help turn around a program and leave his mark on Gopher football. His goals for this year are simple.
"I want to do whatever I can do to help the team win," he said. "That is a big thing. I want to win. I don't want to put any limit on what we can do as a team. We just have to take it one game at a time. We are not going to go into any game expecting to lose."
Rallis has received his fair share of football accolades over the years, but when asked what the best compliment he has ever received was, he had one answer.
"The best thing somebody can say about you as a football player is that you are a tough guy," said Rallis, who has made 146 career tackles as a Gopher. "That is the best thing you can hear as a football player."
The Edina native is impossible to miss on the football field. He came to Minnesota with a short haircut, but his long, brown mane has become his calling card. And don't think for a moment that he is going to cut it during his senior year.
"It seems like every year I grew it out to a certain point, but then I would get sick of it and shave it off," said Rallis. "That was my routine for a while, but now I have gone too far to turn back."
The @GopherFootball account is run by the Athletic Communications office and provides comprehensive coverage of all things Minnesota football. The @GopherGridiron account is managed by members of the football staff and provides specific details about the team.
If it sounds like the two accounts are similar, that is because they are. However, they are also both very different. Think of the @GopherFootball account as ESPN and as the @GopherGridiron account as ESPN College GameDay.
The @GopherFBEquip account is managed by members of the Minnesota football equipment staff. They provide up-to-date information and pictures about all the shoes, gloves, jerseys, helmets and other equipment used by the Gophers.
If you are on Twitter then be sure to give all three accounts a follow. We look forward to sharing information and interacting with you during the season. If you are not on Twitter, then sign up and start following the Gophers!
Eight Gopher players from past and present represented their national teams at a three-game series between the United States and Canada in Calgary last weekend. Team USA swept the series, winning 4-1 on Thursday, 4-2 on Friday and 4-3 on Sunday. A photo gallery of the series from USA Hockey can be found here. Hockey Canada has photo galleries as well as a post-game video interview with Kelly Terry from Friday's game here.
In Thursday's game, Gopher sophomore Rachel Ramsey opened up the scoring, notching a goal 8:46 into the first period. Ramsey earned a second point in the game, getting an assist on Jillian Dempsey's goal in the second period. Canada answered with a goal late in the second to being the score to 2-1, but the Americans scored twice in the third period to bring the final score to 4-1. The U.S. outshot Canada 30-17 in the game. Click here for the USA Hockey recap and here for the Hockey Canada recap.
On Friday, Gopher junior Kelly Terry got Canada on the board first, scoring 15:35 into the opening period. The U.S. answered before the period ended as Jocelyne Lamoreaux tallied a goal, assisted by Gopher senior Megan Bozek. Team USA would score two goals in the second period to Canada's one, bringing the score to 4-2 at the end of the second, which would prove to be the final score. Canada led in shots at 23-20 for the game. Click here for the USA Hockey recap and here for the Hockey Canada recap.
In Sunday's series finale, Canada led 1-0 at the end of the first period. Early in the second period, Gopher junior Sarah Davis gave Canada a 2-0 lead with a goal 6:56 into the period. The U.S. responded two minutes later with a Brianna Decker goal, assisted by Megan Bozek. Team USA scored two additional goals in the second to lead 3-2 going into the third period. Each team added one goal in the final period, bringing the score to 4-3. Again, the Canadians outshot the Americans with a 33-26 tally for the game. Click here for the USA Hockey recap and here for the Hockey Canada recap.
For quarterback MarQueis Gray, his senior season is about doing many things for the last time and hopefully doing some things for the first time as well.
Right now, he is in the last fall camp of his collegiate career. Pretty soon, the season will begin and his final games as a Gopher will begin counting down.
What is he going to miss the most when his Maroon and Gold career is all over?
"Everyone that I have talked to who has left said there is nothing like college game day on Saturdays," said Gray. "That will be one of the main things that I am going to miss."
There is time for nostalgia later, but right now Gray is only concerned about leading the Gophers during the upcoming season. The senior enters the year with a mountain of confidence and is much more comfortable with the offense in his second full season as the starting quarterback.
He also knows all eyes will be on him this year.
"Everyone is going to have high hopes for a quarterback and I know that as well," he said. "I know I have to play every game like it is my last and go out there and have fun and compete. I know if this team has success then I will be successful. I am ready to get this season underway."
His goals for this year? Well, that where doing something for the first time as a Gopher comes into play.
"To lead this team to a bowl win, not just to a bowl game," Gray said. "I have been telling everybody that my main goal is to win a bowl game this year."
Two weeks from today--or two weeks from right now actually--you may be watching the Gophers open the 2012 college football season at UNLV. Minnesota is still in fall camp, but scrimmaged today before practicing twice on Friday and then scrimmaging Saturday night under the lights at TCF Bank Stadium.
Our friends over at GopherGridiron.com have some highlights from today's scrimmage as well as a photo gallery. View photo gallery here.
More than 70 youth players have hit the ice over the last two weeks at Mariucci Arena as participants at the third annual Potulny Camps, organized by Minnesota assistant coach Grant Potulny and staffed by current and former Gophers including Kyle Rau, Mark Alt, Nick Bjugstad, Erik Haula and Nate Schmidt.
"Being part of Minnesota and being part of the fabric (of the state) is important to us...we're just having a blast out here," Potulny said.
"Every year we cap it early because we fill up in a hurry, and it's on purpose. We want it to be a good camp, we want kids to enjoy it and want to come back again."
With 10-plus hours of on-ice instruction each week, the pair of camp sessions (mites were on the ice last week and squirts in Week 2) focused on key fundamentals of hockey from some of the top names in college hockey.
"It's been a great week so far, we're having a lot of fun. The kids are having a blast, and that's the biggest thing," Schmidt - a 2012 All-WCHA honoree last season - said.
In addition to on-ice training, campers also enjoyed special guest instructions from former Gophers and NHL veterans Ryan Potulny and Paul Martin, appearances by NHL All-Stars Thomas Vanek, Blake Wheeler and Keith Ballard, a special Gopher NHL alumni autograph session and an afternoon of off-ice activities at TCF Bank Stadium.
Freshman Eric Murray has impressed the coaching staff with his speed in fall camp.
Coach Jerry Kill has mentioned Eric Murray--and how fast he is--a few times when speaking with the media after fall camp practices this year. The freshman from Wisconsin played mostly wide receiver in high school, but has switched to cornerback as a Golden Gopher. We caught up with Murray to find out what he is all about.
GopherSports: What ultimately led to you choosing to become a Golden Gopher and how does it feel to be one?
Eric Murray: "The decision came from the coaching staff, they're pretty cool. I like everything about them, like working hard and stuff. I feel really good about the decision. It's been a nice little transition from high school to here. I'm being taken care of so it's good."
GopherSports: How are you enjoying campus so far?
Murray: "Campus is great, It has an amazing feel to it."
GopherSports: What, if anything, has surprised you about campus so far?
Murray: "Just how big it is, it's huge."
GopherSports: Do you have a planned major yet?
Murray: "I plan on majoring in biology."
GopherSports: What are your goals for the upcoming season and for your college career?
Murray: "hopefully I can get some playing time this year. Later on I'm looking to work my way in as a long-term starter."
GopherSports: Is there any extra motivation for when you play against Wisconsin since you are from there?
Murray: "No, not really. I have motivation against them since I play for Minnesota now."
GopherSports: Is there a particular athlete you try to model yourself after?
Murray: "Not really, I just try to work hard and push myself as far as I can go."
GopherSports: What is your biggest strength in your opinion and what do you need to improve on?
Murray: "I need to improve on my technique as a defensive back since it's my first year at the position. My strength is probably my biggest strength. I'm pretty big for a DB, I'm long and tall."
GopherSports: You are wearing No. 31 this year. Why is that?
Murray: "That's what I got."
GopherSports: Is there any certain music you listen to to get psyched up for games?
Murray: "I like to listen to a lot of Wiz Khalifa, I like everything he says."
The Big Ten Conference released their 2012 women's soccer preseason coaches' poll this afternoon, so I am going to do a little analyzing of the rankings. Below is the poll as voted by the league's coaches:
1. Penn State 2. Illinois 3. Ohio State 4. Wisconsin 5. Michigan 6. Iowa Michigan State 8. Minnesota 9. Purdue 10. Nebraska 11. Northwestern 12. Indiana
The top two teams are no surprises. Penn State, who is currently ranked No. 9 nationally, won its 14th-straight Big Ten title last fall and returns a plethora of talent all around the pitch. Illinois slips in at second after upsetting the Nittany Lions in the Big Ten Tournament Championship. The Fighting Illini enter the season ranked No. 19 in the national preseason poll. Both teams have stars on the field as PSU tallies two players that were named to the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List in forward Maya Hayes and defender Christine Nairn while Illinois has one in midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo.
I feel that these were nearly given answers to which teams were going to start the season on top of the league.
No. 3 and 4 are Ohio State and Wisconsin. Both are teams that tied the Gophers in the 2011 regular season, despite the Buckeyes not making it to the Big Ten Tournament and the Badgers losing to Minnesota in the opening round. OSU, who is receiving votes in the national preseason poll, did not make the Big Ten Tournament, but they still qualified for the NCAA Tournament and reached the Sweet 16. The lone flag raised between these two is the fact Wisconsin returns only five starters from last season.
These two teams are necessarily surprises since both generally finish near the top of the conference year in and year out.
At the next three slots, we have Michigan, Iowa and Michigan State. These three field quality teams every year but struggle to consistently crack into the top tier of the league. All three have powerful attackers, so don't be surprised if one of these three makes some noise this fall.
At No. 8 sit the Golden Gophers, a squad that finished fifth in the regular season and made it to the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament. Minnesota returns nine starters from last season along with the return of fifth-year senior Tamara Strahota, who sat out all of 2011 due to a leg injury. The Gophers have a youthful team, but with nine starters returning, they are a poised squad.
I feel that this ranking doesn't reflect as much on the team's ability as it does the late coaching change. There is a little shock that a team which returns so much from a semi-successful season, is listed in the bottom half of the league, but then again the Gophers have had to learn a new system in under a month..
Rounding out the final four are Purdue, Nebraska, Northwestern and Indiana. All four have nowhere to go up after faltering last season. At times in 2011, each team showed spurts of being feared program, but by the end of the year, the quartet of teams missed out on the Big Ten Tournament. Don't be surprised if Purdue or Nebraska plays a spoiler roll this season as they each posses a youthful and hungry squad.
All in all, the season starts in three days, and the coaches have spoken. But come Friday, everyone is 0-0-0, and how each team plays throughout the season will speak for itself.
The senior linebacker enters his final season at Minnesota feeling more prepared for the upcoming season than ever before.
"These are the best practices we have had since I have been here," said Cooper. "A lot of that is because of the summer captain's practices we had. A lot of guys know what we want to do. A lot of people are running around a lot faster. People are doing a lot less thinking and a lot more running and are making more plays."
As a senior, Cooper has also taken on a leadership role on the team. Whether it is on the field during practice situations or off the field dealing with life situations, Cooper is there for his teammates.
"I will pull them to the side and let them know this is how we do it (at Minnesota)," said Cooper. "All of them have done a great job of listening so far. If it gets to coach Kill; that is something you do not want. If you get in the doghouse with coach Kill then it is going to be hard to get out."
Although the linebacker corps is expected to be led by upperclassmen this season, the overall Minnesota team is young and inexperienced. Cooper, who expects the linebackers to have a big year, said that only means one thing.
"There are a lot of guys who are going to be young this year, so next year there will be even more experience on the field," said Cooper. "I am pretty sure they will be even better than us this year."
Jim Burns, who has been the public address announcer for the University of Minnesota women's basketball team for the last 15 years, is one of five finalists competing for a chance to announce at Daytona International Speedway's inaugural UNOH Battle at the Beach on Feb. 18-19, and needs the help of Golden Gopher fans to help make his dream come true.
Burns, who is also the "Voice of Elko Speedway," made it to the final five and has the opportunity to earn a trip to Daytona Beach, Fla., to join the announcing team for the event. All he needs is your votes!
Fans can vote for Burns at daytonainternationalspeedway.com/announcer or by clicking here.
Voting will remain open until Sept. 30. The announcer who receives the most votes will be revealed at the NASCAR Home Tracks banquet in December. Let's send Jim to Daytona!!
Once the gold medal game was completed, many media members ask what's next for the Minnesota connections, Hugh McCutcheon and Gopher alum Lindsey Berg. McCutcheon will take over at the helm of Golden Gopher Volleyball once his USA commitments have been completed. Berg has been vocal that the 2012 London Games were her third and her last Olympics.
In the recent days, various members of the media, both local and national, have covered the Minnesota duo. USA Volleyball's Bill Kauffman wrote a sidebar on their next career step. The Associated Press added an article that was picked up by various national media outlets, including St. Paul Pioneer Press, ESPN and Yahoo Sports. Locally, Star Tribune's Patrick Reusse watched the gold medal match with McCutcheon's future team, your Golden Gophers.
While Team USA didn't win the gold medal, a great accomplishment was set by winning its second straight silver. In Kauffman's article Berg states that she lives with no regrets and "if I went back, I wouldn't change a thing."
McCutcheon is ready for a new challenge as he prepares to coach his first collegiate team. As his USA tenure winds down, McCutcheon said "It has been a privilege to coach this team and I will do my best to
positively influence the group that we have to work at Minnesota."
The Under-22 teams for Hockey Canada and USA Hockey will face off in a three-game series Aug. 16-19 in Calgary. Between Team Canada and Team USA, eight Gopher players will be represented in the series.
Playing for Canada will be Gopher juniors Kelly Terry and Sarah Davis, both forwards. Davis also represented Canada in the 2012 Meco Cup. Terry has participated in a Canadian Under-22 development camp, and was a member of the Canadian Under-18 team in 2010.
On the U.S. roster are Sarah Erickson, Hannah Brandt, Megan Bozek, Rachel Ramsey, Anne Schleper, and Lee Stecklein. The U.S. team is not a true Under-22 team, as several members are at or above age 22. The Gopher contingent includes two forwards (Erickson, Brandt) and four defensemen (Bozek, Ramsey, Schleper, Stecklein). Brandt and Stecklein will be joining the Gophers as freshmen this fall, while Ramsey will be a sophomore. Bozek will enter her senior season this fall. Erickson and Schleper graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2012.
All six Gophers who represent Team USA participated in the National Festival in Blaine, Minn., last week. The last time this series was held (2010), Bozek. Erickson and Schleper were all on the U.S. team. Stecklein played for the U.S. at the 2012 Under-18 World Championships, while Brandt played on the Four Nations Cup team last fall.
In addition to the six Gopher players representing the United States, former Minnesota head coach Laura Halldorson will serve as an assistant coach for the series.
Team USA and Team Canada will play at 8 p.m. (central) on both August 16 and 17, and will finish the series on August 19 with an 11 a.m. (central) game. Games will be held at the WinSport Canada Athletic & Ice Complex in Calgary.
Real-time updates from the games will be available on Twitter @usahockeyscores
The U22 series vs. Canada will be played for the fifth time, with the first series contested in 2006. The series was not played in 2011 or 2009. The U.S. is 2-7-3 all-time against Canada in this event.
John Rabe is one of the few seniors on the roster this year that has not been at Minnesota for all of the past four seasons. Rabe transferred from Ellsworth Community College, where he earned Junior College All-America honors after his sophomore season, before the 2011 campaign, but he is a Gopher now.
Rabe has successfully translated his skills to the Big Ten. Competing for the offense at tight end, Rabe played in all 12 games last season, earning six starting assignments. He recorded four receptions for 36 yards and scored two touchdowns. Coach Kill has stressed that receivers need to step up this year, and Rabe is hoping that means that he sees more balls coming his way. It is his affinity for big plays and his fearlessness against tough opponents that makes him a frontrunner for the fall's starting lineup.
"Last year, since it was my first year, I just wanted to get into the offense and make some plays," said Rabe. "I wanted to contribute any way I could. This year I know what it is like to go through a Big Ten season. I want to be a go-to guy for the offense. That is my goal: to get myself and our position to be a big threat for our offense. "
A year ago, Rabe tallied his first career touchdown on his first career reception against Miami (Ohio) on Sept. 17. On Nov. 5, he recorded two catches for 27 yards at Michigan State. A week later, he saw action in the Border Battle against Wisconsin and had three kick returns for 28 yards. He started against Illinois and ended the season on a high note as he hauled in a touchdown pass against the Illini.
It is no secret that the Gophers have a young squad this year. Even though Rabe has not been a Gopher for as long as some of the other seniors, he has welcomed a position of leadership among his unit to help guide and mold that youthful energy in the right direction.
"Being like the coach of the position as a senior is kind of the leadership role I have taken on," said Rabe who served as the tight end position coach during summer workout s and captain's practices. "In the summer, we'll have captain's practice, so I'll get all of the younger guys in my tight end group and we'll go watch film and I'll coach them on what we need to do better. Then we'll come out here and transfer it into drills."
Although it was an off day on the court, the Gopher volleyball team is preparing for the 2012 season in a different way. It was photo day here at Bierman and the Sports Pavilion. The team was busy getting their mugshots (now active on their bio pages), team photo and individual shots. Along with photos, Tori Dixon, Katherine Harms, Brianna Haugen, Mia Tabberson and Ashley Wittman recorded Big Ten Network teasers for the the upcoming televised games. What are players doing in between their photo opportunities? Taking candid photos of course. Primarily led by Dixon, the team submitted some of their best camera shots from today's activities. Take a look at the team and their creativity.
After one week of practice, the University of Minnesota
football team played their first organized scrimmage of the 2012 season
Friday morning at TCF Bank Stadium. The team was split offense versus
defense with a make shift scoring criteria put in place by the Gopher
coaching staff. After playing 16 series, the Gopher offense, which was
sporting white tops with maroon pants, edged out the defense, who wore
maroon-on-maroon, 43-40. The first-team offense proved to be efficient as they scored two touchdowns and a field goal in their three series.
The offense was granted points each
time they scored a touchdown, made a point after attempt, field goal or
acquired a first down. The defense was allotted points for scoring a
touchdown, forcing turnovers and for stopping the offense on third and
fourth down. On the contrary, each team would get points taken away for
penalties and personal fouls.
On the offensive side of the
ball, senior quarterback MarQueis Gray had an efficient day passing the
ball as he went 8-for-11 with roughly 135 yards. Gray also contributed
on the ground with a trio of runs, but a true yardage count is
undetermined since each run was blown dead once a defender came within a
few yards of Gray.
MarQueis Gray warming up before the scrimmage to TCF Bank Stadium.
A quartet of running backs saw action with
the first team offense as each will likely be used throughout the 2012
season. Redshirt sophomore Donnell Kirkwood carried the ball a total of
four times for 24 yards and scored a touchdown. Junior James Gillum
recorded the most carries at the position with nine as he accumulated 30
yards and scored the offenses first touchdown on a one-yard carry.
Sophomore David Cobb posted the longest run of the day as he burst for
68 yards in the 10th series of the day. Cobb had a total of
five carries for 87 yards. Devon Wright also took a few carries with the
first team as he accumulated 12 yards on the day.
heading into this season have been the receiving core, but Gray and
company showcased an array of weapons during the scrimmage as each of
the three first-team drives included big critical plays from the
In the first series, freshman Andre McDonald
made a 30-yard catch on third and long to prolong the Gophers' drive,
which ended in a Gillum touchdown. AJ Barker, a redshirt junior, pulled
in a 37-yard pass from Gray on the fifth drive of the scrimmage.
Barker's catch catapulted the offense to another touchdown, this time
from Kirkwood. In the first teamer's final series, tight end Drew
Goodger grabbed a quick 10-yard out pass and rumbled for 15 more yards,
which included Goodger hurdling over an oncoming defensive back. The
drive would go on and end with a Jordan Wettstein 34-yard field goal.
Other scoring plays for the white jerseys include two passing
touchdowns for freshman Philip Nelson and a 45-yard field goal by kicker
Chris Hawthorne. Nelson's first touchdown was a 45-yard pass to junior
transfer Isaac Fruechte with his second being a nine-yard fade to
Defensively, the Gophers forced three turnovers.
Harold Legania forced a fumble in the second series of the day as he
stripped Max Shortell. In the very next series, sophomore defensive back
Cedric Thompson recovered a Devon Wright fumble with the player who
forced the fumble being unknown. The final takeaway was an interception
by junior Kenny Watkins, who picked off Nelson during the 12th series.
The defense was also successful at putting pressure on the four Gopher
quarterbacks as they recorded four sacks. Since defensive players are
not allowed to tackle the quarterback only two sacks were definitive,
and they were given to sophomore defensive end Michael Amaefula and
redshirt sophomore Ben Perry.
Head coach Jerry Kill rotated a number of players at the kicker, punter and returner roles during the scrimmage as well.
Wettstein and Hawthorne were the lone players to attempt field goals
and kickoffs. They each made their lone field goal attempts and also
recorded one touchback each on kickoffs.
Four different punters
were in the mix on Friday, including Dan Orseske, Peter Mortell, David
Schwerman and Christian Eldred. Mortell, a redshirt freshman, posted the
longest punt of the day as he bombed an 81-yarder for a touchback.
Eldred, a sophomore from Melbourne, Australia, was the lone punter to
pin a ball inside the 20 as he booted a 40-yard punt, which stopped at
the 10-yard line.
Fifth-year senior Troy Stoudemire headed up
the returning core while he was joined by Wright, Gillum and McDonald.
No actual returns were marked, but each showcased a strong ability to
catch the kicks and a burst of speed to help the Gophers with field
position this fall.
Friday was the first of three schedule
scrimmages at TCF Bank Stadium for Minnesota this fall. The next
controlled scrimmage is slated for August 16 during the day while the
last one is scheduled for August 18 under the lights.
Minnesota completed its sixth and seventh practices of fall camp today, as the team was put through its first-a-day practice of the season. Despite practicing twice for the first time, it was a quick and efficient day as Minnesota worked out in shells for both practices under cloudy and somewhat cool skies.
The Gophers opted for shells for the second practice instead of full pads to alleviate any potential injuries as they prepare for their first scrimmage of camp tomorrow morning.
The scrimmage begins at 10:25 a.m. of Friday at TCF Bank Stadium and is free and open to the public. Fans attending the scrimmage should enter the stadium through the Lake of the Woods gate.
Tomorrow is also the last day that camp is open to the public, so this is the last chance for fans to see the Gophers before they play at UNLV on Aug. 30. So take off work or call in sick and head down to campus for a little late-morning football. You know TCF Bank Stadium is pristine and even the weather looks awesome for tomorrow.
As crazy as it seems, the upcoming 2012 season will be the University of Minnesota's 20th
year of having a women's soccer program. To pay tribute to the past 19
seasons, we will take a look back in time and highlight the evolution of
Gopher soccer year-by-year. The weekly updates will help us commemorate
all the great moments in program history as we head into the
highly-anticipated 2012 season.
Today's installment takes us to
2003, which was another troublesome season for the Golden Gophers as
they began the season hot but would falter later in the year to end with
a 6-10-2 record.
The University of Minnesota started the
2003 season on the right track as they defeated Buffalo, 4-2, with four
separate players notching a goal. The Golden Gophers followed that
victory with a 1-1 draw with Creighton two days later.
Maroon & Gold hit the road the following weekend for their first
road trip to the Wildcat Classic in Evansville, Ill. In their first
match, the Gophers dropped a 3-1 decision to Ohio, despite outshooting
the Bobcats. Minnesota would rebound from the loss and shutout Florida
Atlantic in the next game for a 1-0 triumph.
weekend Minnesota would have a one-game weekend, which was at Elizabeth
Lyle Robbie Stadium against Western Illinois. The Gophers again would
record a shutout as they defeated the Lethernecks, 3-0.
Golden Gophers would remain home the next weekend as they welcomed
Purdue for the Big Ten Conference opener. The Boilermakers would notch
goals in both halves to trump Minnesota 2-0. The Gophers came back on
Sunday to oust Indiana, 2-1.
Minnesota looked to build off
their big win over the Hoosiers but slipped up in Michigan as both the
Wolverines and Spartans outmatched the Gophers.
& Gold snapped the two-game losing streak against Northwestern the
following weekend. The Wildcats grabbed an early 1-0 lead in the first
half, but the Gophers answered minutes later to tie the match up. A late
goal in the first half capped off the 2-1 win.
would drop the next two games against Illinois and Colorado. With hopes
of getting another Big Ten win, Minnesota came up short but was able to
force a tie with Iowa after trailing late in the game.
Minnesota's winless streak would continue as they were defeated in their next four matches.
The Golden Gophers capped off the 2003 campaign with a 2-1 win at Iowa
State. The win was significant in that it ended a 13-match road winless
streak, as well as a seven-match winless streak.
Big news following the season was that head coach Barbara Wickstrand
did not have her contract renewed. Wickstrand spent four years at the
helm of the program and compiled a 26-43-4 record. Later in the year,
her successor would be named, Mikki Denney Wright.
was the bright spot on a tough season for the Gophers as she was
selected to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team after leading the team with 19
points and seven goals.
Check your calendars for Monday, Sept. 17. Do you have the day open? If so - sign up to participate in the 2012 GWH Golf Open! This year's fundraiser will again be held at Indian Hills Golf Club in Stillwater, the same great course as last year's event.
For all the details and a tournament registration form, please click here.
Not a golfer? No problem! We're also looking for hole, tee and green sponsors. Or, if you'd like to attend the Golf Open banquet without golfing in the tournament, that's okay too. See the registration form for more information.
All proceeds generated from the GWH Golf Open directly support the University of Minnesota women's hockey program.
The University of Minnesota volleyball program kicked off the 2012
season today, at the Sports Pavilion as the Golden Gophers held its
first practice. The team reported on Tuesday for team meetings and on Wednesday were busy in the gym.
The first practice day consisted of an early morning with a 7
a.m. physical testing with strength coach Sarah Wiley. Following breakfast, the team gathered
together for the first practice at 10 a.m. As coaches Laura Bush, Chris Tamas and volunteer coach Dave Ganser looked on, the team worked on
technique and ball control.
Following a lunch, the team will add another practice at 3:30, followed by dinner and a team meeting. The Gophers will continue two-a-days also on Thursday and Friday, while Saturday will be photo day and relaxation.
The Gophers open the season at the James Madison Tournament, August 25th in Harrisonburg, Va. Minnesota will play twice that day as it takes on host James Madison (11:30 a.m. CT) and Appalachian State (4:30 p.m. CT). Minnesota's first home matches will be August 31-Sept. 1 as hosts Albany, Long Island and Miami (OH).
Today was Day 5 of fall camp and it was also the first day that players were in full pads. The Gophers opened camp in just helmets for the first two days of and then moved to shells for practices three and four before donning full pads today.
"It went good," said James Gillum referring to the team's first practice in full pads. "I think everyone came out to play today. It feels great to come out here and compete against the defense. Even though we are on the same team it feels great."
The practice ended with a brief live scrimmage, so the physicality of camp has certainly picked up.
"We are physical everyday but we had a little live scrimmage at the end, so yeah it got a little more physical at the end," said Gillum.
The Gophers will have their first two-a-day, on-field practice tomorrow when they are in shells for the morning practice and then return to full pads for the afternoon. Minnesota will then participate in its first scrimmage of camp (free and open to the public) at 10:25 a.m. on Friday at TCF Bank Stadium.
One concern with full pads is the injury factor increases.
"Even when we wear shells we get after it, but it is not the same with the cutting and tackling," said head coach Jerry Kill. "To stay healthy you do not want to do too much of that, but we want to get a little bit of that in before we scrimmage. It is a real fine balance right now to stay healthy and be physical, but I thought the kids did a good job with that overall."
While the hitting certainly picks up when full pads are on, there are other aspects that players have to adjust to while being in full gear for the first time.
"Your legs get a little heavier, but you have to push through it," said defensive back Michael Carter. "I had a lot of fun today getting back to tackling people."
With full pads, the intensity certainly changes for most players, but Carter said it remains the same for the secondary whether the players are in pads, shells or just helmets. They always have one goal and that is to shut down the receivers.
"It does not change with us because we are guarding receivers," he said. "We are trying to do what we need to do from Day 1. We had a couple of mistakes today, but the intensity of guarding a receiver is the same."
Pick-you-pack tickets and non-conference single-game tickets for the 2012 Minnesota football season are on sale now.
Fans can purchase tickets online at MyGopherSports.com, on the phone by calling 612-624-8080 or in person at the main ticket office at Mariucci Arena.
Pick-your-packs start at $70 for two games and fans are able to select one non-conference game and one Big Ten game to attend.
Games in the Maroon section of the pack are New Hampshire, Western Michigan and Syracuse. The games against New Hampshire and Western Michigan start at $25 each (single-game for New Hampshire and Western Michigan also start at $25), while the night game against Syracuse starts at $35 (single-game for Syracuse starts at $40).
After selecting one game from the Maroon package, fans will then select one game from the Gold package, which includes Big Ten contests against Northwestern, Purdue, Michigan and Michigan State. Tickets for the games against Northwestern, Purdue and Michigan State start at $45, while tickets for the game against Michigan start at $60.
Big Ten single-game tickets will go on sale to the public on Sept. 12.
Fifth-year senior Brandon Green looks to build off his comeback in 2011 to make the University of Minnesota's offense that much more potent, but even more than that, the Chicago, Ill. native hopes to guide and mentor a youthful receiving core this fall.
"Right now, I feel great about our receiving core," said Green. "We have a lot of talent out there and everyone is making plays. With having so many good receivers, it creates competition, which is a good thing to have because everyone wants to move up the depth chart."
Despite mentioning a number of fellow talented Gopher receivers expected to see time this season, which included Devin Crawford-Tufts, Marcus Jones and more, the 6-foot, 189 pound wide out is viewed as one of quarterback MarQueis Gray's top targets this fall. Green hoists 779 career receiving yards on 57 receptions, which are top marks amongst all receivers.
With being the lone senior wide receiver on the roster to witness any playing time, Green has made an impact on a number of youthful players, including Devin Crawford-Tufts, who had a breakout season during his freshman campaign in 2012.
"BG [Brandon Green] has really helped me develop as a player," said Carwford-Tufts. "If I have a question about anything, I always go to him because he has been here. He understands football, the coaches and a bunch of different positions, so I look up to him a lot."
When asked about how he feels Green will fit into the offense, Crawford-Tufts mentioned that the redshirt-senior can play all the receiving positions. The sophomore also stated that Green will see a lot of playing time because he has the 'ability to not only get open but also to really catch the ball'.
Another positive surrounding Green is the fact he is the in the same offensive system in back-to-back seasons for the first time in his career. With not having to change playbooks, he feels that it propels the team heading into the 2012 campaign.
"It means a lot to have the same coaching staff that we did last season. Everyone is more comfortable with the playbook, so we can move faster on the offensive side of the field. We only have a few new receivers this season, so everyone is on the same page and are able to help each other out."
With having been able to witness the coaching changes over the years, Green is not only viewed as a leader but some players jokingly call him 'Grandpa BG'.
"We call him 'Grandpa BG' or 'Grandpa' for short because of his age," Crawford-Tufts said with a smirk on his face. "He wears a lineman's brace, so we have a good time making fun of him for being old."
In response to the on-going joke between him and a number of the Gophers, Green simply states...
"I don't like it, but I have to go with it. Everyone is calling me old and giving me trouble about my knee brace, but I just take it as a joke. I am happy to still be here."
Who will MarQueis Gray throw the ball to this year?
That is one of the big questions the Gophers must answer during fall camp since his go-to man DaJon McKnight (760 yards and four touchdowns last year) graduated.
The six returning receivers on the roster who caught at least one ball last year combined for 52 catches, 705 yards and three touchdowns a season ago. Senior Brandon Green led that group with 15 catches for 190 yards and one touchdown. Tight end John Rabe had the other two scores.
In comparison, the man who will be doing the throwing, Gray, has 645 career receiving yards and six touchdowns on his resume.
So as the 2012 season approaches there is an opportunity for somebody to step up and become one of Gray's top targets.
Sophomore Devin Crawford-Tufts and sophomore transfer Isaac Fruechte are two players who are hoping to fill that role. Crawford-Tufts played in nine games last year as a true freshman and made eight catches for 156 yards. He also flashed some big-play ability in a win against Iowa as he had receptions of 61 and 39 yards.
"All of the receivers are working hard to be that guy," said Crawford-Tufts. "It was nice to be able to get on the field and play in some games last year. It felt good to be able to get out there and make some plays.
Crawford-Tufts said he and Gray worked well together over the summer during captain's practices and will welcome the role as a big-play receiver.
Coach Jerry Kill said last Thursday before the team opened camp that he felt Crawford-Tufts was ready for a breakout year and he also stressed the need for dynamic, play-making receivers. He reiterated those statements today after the third day of camp.
"He has got to step up and play well for us," said Kill. "He can really run and is a very good athlete. He made some plays for us at the end of the year. For us to be successful he has to have a good year."
Fruechte played at Rochester (Minn.) Community and Technical College in 2010 (30 receptions, 805 yards and nine touchdowns) before redshirting in 2011. He joined the Gophers in January and participated in spring practice.
"The spring here was kind of nerve-racking because I did not know what to expect," said Fruechte, whose father and uncle are both long-time Gopher season-ticket holders. "It was my first time being up here. I had always just previously walked around as a fan and just saw what was going on. Right now I am just living the dream and going to school here representing the M. It is what I have wanted to do my whole life."
Fruechte, who has made several nice catches in the first three days of camp, said he is working hard to get on the field. That hard work is not lost on coach Kill.
"You can tell he is not thinking and is playing with much more confidence," said Kill comparing Fruechte in the spring to current day. "Over the last three days he is not the same kid he was and we expected that."
Still, despite the quick progress, making the jump from junior college to the Big Ten is a significant one. But Fruechte said he is working hard to become one of Gray's options.
"The spring was extremely huge for me because I am a lot more familiar with the offensive playbook," he said. "It is ten times bigger here. I don't know it all yet, and if you have been watching practice then you see sometimes I get yelled at. But that is alright. I feel really comfortable in the offense right now.
"During practice and when I get opportunities, I have to make plays. If you get the chance, you have to make plays. That is what I am working for right now."
Near perfect conditions greeted the Gophers as they took the field for their second day or practice during fall camp. Under blue skies and 70-degree temperatures, coach Kill and his staff paced the 105-man roster through another quick-moving, two-hour practice.
Quarterback MarQueis Gray connected on some long touchdown strikes and converted linebacker James Manuel had a nice downfield interception as the practice wore down.
Just 24 hours from one practice to another, coach Kill said he was impressed with the team's second workout and could see progress.
"I am very pleased with the progress we are making," said Kill. "From Day 1 to Day 2 we certainly feel like that we made some strides, and we are getting a lot of people a lot of work. Athletically, I think we improved ourselves. It is fun to be out here and watch kids get better and better."
The goal during the first couple days of camp?
"We want to fundamentally get better," said Kill.
One player who is trying to work his way back is redshirt junior linebacker Brendan Beal. The Bangor, Pa., native has not played for the Gophers since transferring from Florida. He sat out the 2010 season because of NCAA transfer rules and missed 2011 with an injury.
Coach Kill said he has liked what he has seen from Beal after two days.
"I think he has worked very hard," said Kill. "He moved around very well yesterday. I watched him on film and he did some good things. He has put a whole lot of work into it with the rehab and the things he has gone through, so you are certainly rooting for him. He has had a good two days.
"You always look for those kids. You hear special stories like that all the time. We certainly hope that he continues to progress and as he said, "Coach, I am knocking a little bit of that rust off," so he has done a good job."
The first day of on-field practice is in the books for the 2012 Minnesota Golden Gophers football team. The difference from last year to this year in terms of speed, tempo and everyone being on the same page was noticeable from the coaches to the players to the media.
"It is year two," said offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover. "Those kids knew what our tempo needed to be and they understood it, so we could spend less time harping on them about that and more time on the finer things. That is when you know that you are climbing that ladder as a team toward respectability and eventually success. The hustling and the in and out of the huddle, that stuff was all a lot better than it has been at any point since we have been here."
Linebacker Keanon Cooper attributes the team's efficient first practice to the players preparing themselves for the season during the summer.
"We have a lot more leadership now," said Cooper. "A lot more guys are buying in and listening to the older guys, and we got a lot done over the summer."
Many players are hoping that hard work during the summer translates into playing time during the season. Even though today was only the beginning of camp, the evaluation process of who will be on the field on Aug. 30 at UNLV has already begun.
"The first two weeks you are evaluating, seeing who is ready and who is going to be able to perform and pick things up," said head coach Jerry Kill. "You spend your first two weeks of camp figuring out what guys are going to be able to ready to play. Then you spend the next couple of weeks preparing for UNLV."
Although the speed and tempo were improved from one year ago, there were still things that the coaches noticed that need to be improved up. One of those is for players - who wore only helmets today - to stay on their feet during drills and work with one another better.
"We did a better job this first practice than we did at any point of staying on our feet, but we were still on the ground too much," said Limegrover. "Anytime you are on the ground, you are going to increase those chances of injury so we need to learn to work with each other. When we got over the hump at Southern Illinois and knew we really had it going at Northern is when those kids could be competitive and do their job and work with one another."
I wasn't really sure what to expect this morning as I was driving down 35W toward Lakeville for the Hoops Scramble X at Crystal Lake Golf Club. I knew that the event was going to be a good time with great people, but what I wasn't expecting was how MUCH fun it was going to be.
Between the players, coaching staff, Fast Break Club members, boosters and Gopher fans, it definitely seemed like everyone was enjoying a day on the links.
As golfers made their way to Hole #2, they were greeted by Katie Loberg, Rachel Banham, Kionna Kellogg, Micaella Riche and Mikayla Bailey, who were selling raffle tickets, autographing mini basketballs and mingling with whoever came by to visit them.
Steering their carts toward the pin, those same golfers were met by Leah Cotton, Sari Noga, Amber Dvorak and assistant coach Ted Riverso, who congratulated each player that managed to keep their drive on the green.
One of the best moments of the day was when each player took a turn trying to hit the ball off of the tee. Bailey's stroke was impressive... as for the rest? They have just a tad more work to do before joining the LPGA! However, they kept everyone entertained.
As an obeserver, it is so refreshing to see how much the student-athletes appreciate the support that they receive from their fans. They truely enjoyed the time they were able to spend with them today, and I'm sure their supporters felt the same way.
Freshman Lincoln Plsek and the gophers begin Fall camp on Saturday
As the beginning of the season draws closer GopherSports continues our series of interviews with the incoming freshman class. Next up on tap is Lincoln Plsek, an athlete from Reicher High School in Waco Texas.
Plsek played many positions in high school so it is still unclear exactly where he will play in Maroon and Gold. He was rated a 3 star prospect by Rivals and ESPN and unrated by Scout. He is considered a very versatile and athletic player with a large frame.
GophersSports: What led to you deciding to become a Golden Gopher and how does it feel to be one?
Plsek: "I really love the coaching staff and Coach Kill appealed to me. That hit the nail on the head for me, once I came up here I didn't want to go anywhere else."
GophersSports: How are you enjoying campus so far?
Plsek: "I love it. I love the atmosphere up here, it's a great campus. I'm really close to all of my classes and to the complex so it's easy to get around, I'm enjoying it.
GophersSports: What, if anything, has surprised you about campus?
Plsek: "I guess just how many people are just sitting outside on the grass and how easy going everyone is. Everyone will wave or just say hey, everyone is really nice."
GophersSports: Do you have a planned major yet?
Plsek: "I'm thinking chemical engineering, but that might change."
GophersSports: You are currently being listed as an athlete, what are you hearing about how you will be utilized?
Plsek: "I'm probably going to play tight end, but we'll see how it goes."
GophersSports: What are your goals for the upcoming season and for your college career?
Plsek: "I hope to play this season, but if that's not an opportunity then I'll redshirt, get better, and help the team anyway that I can. As far as goals for my career I want to at least win a Big Ten Championship by the time I leave this place."
GophersSports: Is there a particular athlete you try to model yourself after?
Plsek: "Not really. I watch a lot of teams as a whole, but I don't really watch any certain person."
GophersSports: What is your biggest strength in your opinion and what do you need to improve on?
Plsek: "I need to get quicker laterally. I feel like I have good speed but I need to get more agile and quick."
GophersSports: How do you feel about the new uniforms?
Plsek: "They're awesome. When I watched the video I was just blown away. I like the Maroon ones, they're really cool."
GophersSports: What number will you be wearing this fall?
Plsek: "85, that's what was given to me."
GophersSports: Is there any certain music you listen to to get psyched up for games?
Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill and four players met with the media today to preview the 2012 season. The Gophers will gather for a team meeting this evening and then begin fall camp in earnest at 10:25 a.m. on Saturday at the Gibson-Nagurski Football Complex.
Some Kill highlights from today's press conference:
"We're looking forward to getting our kids in and going through the orientation part of our program, then our rookies practicing on Friday, and getting started with our whole team on Saturday.
"I think that we sold a strong vision a year ago of kind of where we wanted to go in the program. I don't think we've come off that. I think that probably the most important thing, I think, as a head coach or assistant coaches, our strength coaches, we've got the continuity. We didn't lose any of that continuity, so the vision stayed the same. I think we're just all much more comfortable with each other. The players, the coaches, and what we're trying to accomplish is much better.
"We've got to move the program forward and continue to get better. As long as we continue to make strides to get better and continue to build a foundation of the program and move it forward, that is what we're here to do. Again, nothing is a quick fix. It takes time. I'm cautiously optimistic of the way our kids are working. We're certainly looking forward to the season.
"The biggest thing he (MarQueis Gray) needed to do here in the summertime was make sure he did a good job of leading the kids in the weight room and throwing the football. The other thing is getting himself in tremendous conditioning to stay healthy because that's critical. That's really why you do all the off season stuff. Not only do you get bigger and stronger, you're trying to prevent injury. So he has to be very healthy going into camp and continuing to stay that way with all of our players.
"I think where we need to find some play makers and see what they do is wide receiver. I think that's a critical position for us. I think we've got some young people that we recruited. I think we've got some kids coming back. Are there going to be young freshman that can learn quick? I don't know. We'll have to see. We'll have to force feed some of that. But we need some guys that are going to be dynamic play makers to go up and get a ball and go make a play.
"I think any time you win and you win your last game, I think that jump starts you. I think if you deny that, I don't think you'd be very truthful. I felt great for the seniors that were leaving the program. It was great for them because of the sacrifice they had to make with the coaching change and what they went through. And it was great for the players in the program to know if we do what we're asked to do, this is what can happen.
"Playing on a Thursday night, we get to open up college football. I think that is a big deal for our program. It's a good deal for our players.
"We only have ten seniors I believe it is. We're a young, young football team. We're fully youthed, so to speak. But young, hungry guys that are looking forward to going to work."
Head coach Jerry Kill met with the local media today in advance of the start of fall camp. Per NCAA rules, team's are allowed to utilize only 105 players in camp. Below is a list of the 105 players who begin camp at 10:25 a.m. on Saturday at Gibson-Nagurski Football Complex.
'Every player on our roster is important," said Kill. "When you have to cut down to 105 or whatever, I've never been really good at that kind of thing. If you've got 115 that worked out, I'd like to be able to bring 115, but that's the NCAA rules. We have the 105 where we are right now to get started for camp.
"It's never easy to tell a kid that worked his tail end off that he can't come to camp. I'm not very good at that. But we did it, and we moved forward."
## Last Name, First Name 1 Beal, Brendan 1 Green, Brandon 2 Stoudermire, Troy 3 Shabazz, Martez 4 Cooper, Keanon 4 Maye, KJ 5 Gray, Marqueis 6 Levine, Grayson 7 Leidner, Mitch 7 Travis, Damarius 8 Reeves, Spencer 9 Manuel, James 9 Nelson, Philip 11 Johnson, Antonio 11 Shortell, Max 12 McDonald, Andre 13 Wells, Derrick 14 Fruechte, Isaac 15 Jones, Marcus 16 Harbison, Jamel 16 Montgomery, Steven 17 Cesario, CJ 17 Rallis, Nick 18 Engel, Derrick 18 Westerhaus, Peter 19 Dicke, Cedric 19 Gregory-McGhee, Kendall 20 Kirkwood, Donnell 21 Gillum, James 21 Vereen, Brock 22 Baltazar, Jeremy 23 Carter, Michael 25 Wright, Devon 26 Rallis, Mike 27 Cobb, David 27 Thompson, Cedric 28 Alipate, Moses 28 Watkins, Kenneth 29 Boddy, Briean 30 Henry, Mike 31 Banham, Cole 31 Murray, Eric 32 Edwards, Lamonte 33 McKelvey, John 34 Matilus, Jephete 35 Schultz, Dominic 35 Williams Jr., Rodrick 36 Hawthorne, Chris 37 Mortell, Peter 38 Schwerman, David 39 Wettstein, Jordan 40 Hartman, Jared 41 Orseske, Dan 42 Bronson, Gavin 43 Grant, Ryan 44 Mezzenga, Gabe 45 Holcomb, Ben 46 Botticelli, Cameron 47 Bisch, Alex 48 Filkins, Jake 49 Garin, Matt 50 Lynn, Jack 52 Epping, Zac 52 Timms, Yoshoub 53 Olson, Tommy 55 Cockran, Theiren 57 Hill, Aaron 58 Olson, Ed 59 Balthazor, Joey 62 Jacques, Eric 62 Mottla, Zach 63 Christenson, Jon 64 Bak, Caleb 65 Campion, Josh 66 McAvoy, Luke 68 Hayes, Isaac 69 Hartmann, Tyler 71 McAvoy, Kyle 73 Bjorklund, Joe 74 Lenkiewicz, Marek 75 Heifort, Ernie 76 Gjere, Jimmy 77 Bush, Foster 78 Lauer, Ben 79 Pirsig, Jonah 80 Crawford-Tufts, Devin 81 Rabe, John 82 Barker, AJ 83 Goodger, Drew 84 Keise, Victor 85 Plsek, Lincoln 86 Moulton, Malcolm 87 Ngekia, Sahr 88 Williams, Maxx 89 Hutton, Logan 91 Keith, Alex 92 Johnson, Roland 93 Perry, Ben 94 Eldred, Christian 94 Legania, Harold 95 Wilhite, DL 96 Ramlet, Dave 97 Ekpe, Scott 98 Amaefula, Michael 99 Hageman, RaShede
Ed Olson says he has enjoyed watching badminton during the Summer Olympics.
The world is watching the Summer Olympics in London right now, and Minnesota football players are no exception. We talked to a few Gophers to see what their favorite sport of the games has been so far.
Harold Legania: "I've been keeping up with the basketball."
Ed Olson: "I actually watched badminton the other day. I thought I was good at badminton back in physical education class but they took it to another level."
Troy Stoudermire: "My favorite sport to watch was the 4x100m relay with Michael Phelps in it. That was really exciting and even though we lost it was still a good effort."
KJ Maye: "I've been watching the basketball and swimming so far. The basketball has been my favorite."
Max Shortell: "I've liked watching the women's beach volleyball."
Kyle McAvoy: "Probably the men's gymnastics. It's pretty impressive what those guys can do."
Caleb Bak: "Anything with gymnastics is always fun."
Josh Campion: "I watched the beach volleyball the other and that was pretty good."
As crazy as it seems, the upcoming 2012 season will be the University of Minnesota's 20th
year of having a women's soccer program. To pay tribute to the past 19
seasons, we will take a look back in time this summer and highlight the
evolution of Gopher soccer year-by-year. The weekly updates will help us
commemorate all the great moments in program history as we head into
the highly-anticipated 2012 season, which kicks off August 17 at
Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium against NCAA College Cup participant
Today's installment takes us to 2002, which
served as a rebuilding year for the program as they suited up 17
underclassmen. The youthful team showed a lot of poise but would post
its third-straight below .500 record, which was deceiving since seven of
the squad's losses were by one goal.
The Golden Gophers began the 2002 campaign with a neutral-site matchup
against Washington State in Missoula, Mont. The youthful squad was
unable to get things going against the Cougars as the Maroon & Gold
dropped a 2-0 decision.
Two days later, Minnesota would shutout
host Montana, 1-0, and begin a five-game winning streak. The lone goal
of the match was scored by Marshall transfer Amanda McMahon in the 52nd minute.
The streak came alive in their first two home matches of the season as
they blanked Southwest Missouri State, 3-0, and edged out Colorado, 3-2.
Over the two games, the Gophers received two goals from McMahon and
three from junior Rachael Roth.
Minnesota stretched the
streak to five-matches the following weekend as they tallied a pair of
1-0 shutouts against Iowa State and Cincinnati. In both contests, Roth
was the hero as she scored the lone goals. The Maroon & Gold defense
was stiff all weekend as they allowed a combine five shots on goal.
The streak would come to a halt once Big Ten Conference play began as
the Golden Gophers dropped a one-goal decision on the road to Purdue,
which began a three-game losing streak with all being 1-0 losses. The
other two would come at the hands of Indian and Michigan State.
In the loss to the Spartans, the Maroon & Gold suffered not only a
defeat, but the loss of McMahon, who was carted off the field in the 24th minute with a lower leg injury. The transfer would not see action the rest of the season.
After being shutout the last three matches, Minnesota exploded against
No. 14 Michigan as they recorded four goals in a 4-0 victory at home. Roth
served as the team's spark as she notched her first-career hat trick
with all of her goals coming in the second half.
snapping the losing streak and having momentum heading into the next
week, the Gophers would stumble against Iowa and Illinois before tying
with UW-Milwaukee, 2-2. Even though the draw stopped a losing streak, it
still continued a winless streak for Minnesota as they would go on and
lose their next four matches, making the winless streak seven games
Minnesota finally came out on top in their final home
match of the year as the topped Drake, 2-1. But the season would end as
it started, as the Gophers fell by a 2-0 deficit this time to Denver.
The Maroon & Gold ended the season with a 7-11-1 overall record and
1-9-0 in the conference. Despite what the record says, the Gophers
posed threats in nearly all of their contests since seven of their
losses came down to a one-goal differential.
Roth was the lone
Gopher to receive a Big Ten accolade at the end of the year as she was
named to the second team. The junior from Wayzata, Minn. led the team in
goals (11), assists (four) and points (26).