Aug. 4: Practice Photo Gallery l Daily Clips
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."