The Gophers were in full pads today for the first time during fall camp.
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."