What They're Saying - Spring Game Recap

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Maroon Team wins (GopherSports) and we even kept stats (GopherSports)

QBs looking good (Star Tribune and Minnesota Daily)

Offense shows progress (BTN.com)

Harbison shows playmaking ability (Minnesota Daily)

Photos from Saturday (GopherGridiron and GopherSports)

Kill pleased with Spring Game (Star Tribune)

Five things we learned from the Spring Game (FSN)

Program was the big winner at the Spring Game (Pioneer Press)

Looking back at the spring practice (Star Tribune)

An in-depth look at the quarterbacks and running backs (1500 ESPN)

Good things come out of the Spring Game (SB Nation)

Quick game recap (KFAN)

Gophers Participate In Pro Day

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(Video courtesy of GopherGridiron.com)

The Minnesota football team held its pro day this morning at the Gibson-Nagurski Football Complex. Representatives from 13 NFL teams were in the Twin Cities to watch the former Gophers workout.

Seniors from last year's team Michael Carter, Keanon Cooper, MarQueis Gray, Brandon Green, John Rabe, Mike Rallis, Spencer Reeves, Troy Stoudermire and Jordan Wettstein joined former Gophers and players from smaller schools in the workout.

Coach Kill, Wife Rebecca Talk Marriage On WCCO

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Happy Valentine's Day!

Coach Kill and his wife Rebecca recently sat down with WCCO's married couple of Frank Vascellaro and Amelia Santaniello to talk about what makes a successful marriage.

They were married at a young age and through the years, they have dealt with job issues, financial issues and health issues. But the duo says that everything they have been through has only brought them closer together.

Today is a day for flowers, chocolates, cards and dinner reservations, but there is only one thing that coach has to get Rebecca to make sure that today is a good day. If you ask us, we think he is getting off easy.


Gopher Football Fans Take Texas!

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While the result of the 2012 Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas wasn't exactly what Gopher fans would have hoped for, the Gopher fans that made the trip down seemed to all have a great time. In particular, the 25 student fans that drove down to Houston on a tricked-out "Gopher bus" had a memorable experience!

Watch the video above and read more about these fans' incredible journey via Rick Moore of Rick's "Season Pass" Gopher Football blog!

[READ THE ORIGINAL POST ON RICK'S BLOG BY CLICKING HERE]

By Rick Moore, UMN.edu's "Season Pass": A Gopher Football Fan Blog (link)

There's one more tale I wanted to share from Houston, but I ran out of time before the flight home.

It concerns the fate of about 20 University of Minnesota students who signed on for a good old-fashioned road trip to watch the Gophers play in Houston. They boarded a coach bus at 3 p.m. last Wednesday, two days and five hours before kickoff, with the plan of arriving in Houston 20 hours later.

They were reveling in the experience--enjoying poker, war, Uno, and Xbox tournaments--when suddenly their bus pulled over to the side of the road. A belt had snapped, and after a driver's consultation, they wound up inching along at 20 mph to a truck stop a few miles away.

It was, said senior Shelby Morton, the most outspoken spokesperson for the journey, "in the middle of Nowhere, Kansas."
Go Gophers! fans
Go Gophers!
These Gopher student fans had a memorable journey down to Houston for the 2012 Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas!
Go Gophers!

They weren't able to get the bus fixed right away; turns out "there was one more piece missing," Morton says, so they got to spend six hours at that truck stop socializing with the locals and the truckers, and presumably playing more games.

They eventually got on a different bus and reunited with their original, repaired coach during a break in Dallas... but there was one more delay after that.

"We had a bit of another detour to get to Houston just because it was dark, it was raining, and we missed a turn," Morton said.

They arrived at the Hyatt Regency in Houston shortly before midnight on Thursday--a half day late but not much worse for the wear.

"It was an experience. Everybody has to have a broken-down-bus trip," Morton said with a chuckle at the pregame party at Reliant Stadium. "Even though we got hung up for a few hours, it was totally worth it. I mean, we're at the game. This is awesome."

She had even more reason to smile. The students partook in a number of contests along the way, and the final one, held Friday afternoon, was for the best game "costume." Morton, sporting a shade of arguably maroon dye in her hair and wearing maroon and gold bib overalls and funky gold shoes, was declared the winner, and returned home with a 55-inch TV.

In addition, she came back with a great broken-down-bus story, another rite of passage in her collegiate journey.


Stoudermire, Gray To Participate In All-Star Games

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Troy Stoudermire and MarQueis Gray are not done playing college football just yet.

The outgoing seniors will participate in separate All-Star Games in the coming weeks. Stoudermire will play in the upcoming Casino Del Sol College All-Star Game on Friday, Jan. 11 at Kino Stadium in Tucson, Ariz., while Gray is scheduled to play in the Texas vs. The Nation game on Feb. 2 at Eagle Stadium in Allen, Texas. 

Stoudermire is the only Gopher participating in the Casino Del Sol College All-Star Game and is one of three Big Ten players in the event, which is in its second year. The inaugural game produced six NFL draft picks and 67 players who were signed to an NFL contract. The game starts at 6 p.m. CT and will be broadcast on ESPN3.

Stoudermire started all 12 games for the Gophers and led Minnesota in tackles (82) and solo tackles (59). He also broke up three passes and notched 3.5 tackles-for-loss. Stoudermire returned 22 kicks this year for 513 yards as he became the NCAA all-time leader in kickoff return yards with 3,615 yards.

Gray is the lone Gopher in the Texas vs. The Nation game as well. The game, which kicks off at 1:30 p.m. on Feb. 2, was established in 2006. Since the game began, more than 100 players have been selected in the NFL Draft and more than 500 have signed with an NFL team.

Gray played both quarterback and wide receiver at Minnesota this year, while battling an injury. He rushed for 390 yards and five touchdowns from the quarterback position, while also passing for 472 yards and five touchdowns. Gray also caught 12 passes for 121 yards this year. 

Busy Bowl Week Ends, Game Is All That's Left

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Minnesota wrapped up a busy Bowl Week with a team luncheon, interviews, a walk through and a special visit to DePelchin Children's Center today.

Now all that is left is the game.

This morning began with conference calls for head coach Jerry Kill, offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover and defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys. All three spent time on the phone with ESPN's television team of Mark Jones, Brock Huard and Jessica Mendoza. Limegrover was also a guest on 1500 ESPN this morning with Judd Zulgad, while Tracy Claeys joined Tom Pelissero this evening.
Go Gophers! Kill
Go Gophers!
Coach Kill addressed the media today at the official Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas press conference.
Go Gophers!

Both Minnesota and Texas Tech participated in a team luncheon at the Westin Galleria this afternoon. Coach Kill and players MarQueis Gray, Mike Rallis and Keanon Cooper then took part in a press conference for the media who have descended upon Houston.

Once all the questions were asked and answered, the Gophers then traveled to Reliant Stadium for the first time. The facility towers over its predecessor the Astrodome, which was affectionately dubbed as the Eighth Wonder of the World when it was built. The 71,000-seat Reliant Center is a massive structure, which will provide a magnificent backdrop for the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas.

The Houston Texans play their home games at Reliant Center and play on natural grass that is transported in and out of the stadium. However, the bowl game will be staged on synthetic field turf, which was installed yesterday. Minnesota conducted its walk through on the new turf which was entirely green. The facilities staff will spend hours painting yardage markers and end zone graphics onto the field tonight so it is ready for the game.

After the walk through, the Gophers headed over to DePelchin Children's Center, which is the official charity of the bowl. Since 2006, the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas has donated nearly $500,000 to DePelchin and has generated more than $10.2 million in promotional support and publicity.

DePelchin is committed to meeting the needs of children as one of the largest providers of mental health, foster care and adoption services in Texas. Through its clinical expertise and special brand of caring, DePelchin turns lives around, providing a full continuum of care including psychiatric services, counseling, residential treatment, programs for at-risk youths, parent education, foster care and adoption. DePelchin is a not-for-profit organization and gratefully receives its support from individuals, foundations and corporations; government grants and fees; and United Way agencies.

The Gophers then returned to their team hotel where the official 'Sota Social party was being held. Coach Kill spent some time at the festivities doing a KFAN interview and speaking with fans before being whisked off to the bowl's Chariman Dinner this evening.

The team will meet for dinner tonight before departing to their rooms for the evening.   

Minnesota Weather, Gophers Win Rodeo Bowl

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Go Gophers! Philip Nelson
Go Gophers!
Quarterback Philip Nelson with an M logo branding iron at the Rodeo Bowl.
Go Gophers!
Wednesday began with Minnesota-like weather and ended with a Gopher victory.

Temperatures in the lows 30s greeted the Gophers when they woke up on Dec. 26 in Houston. There was not any snow, but there were gusting winds that brought a slight chill to Minnesota's afternoon practice at nearby St. Thomas High School.

Coach Jerry Kill did not seem to mind the change in temperature, instead focusing on his team and the hospitality of the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas staff.

"It's not too bad," said Kill. "The weather has been good and everybody has treated us tremendously and we've gotten a lot done."

Minnesota officially wrapped up its final on-field bowl practice yesterday. The Gophers will hold a walk-through at Reliant Stadium on Thursday after a team luncheon with Texas Tech.

Kill said he has been pleased with the team's extra practices, especially with regard to some of the younger players on his team and his now mostly-healthy offensive line.

"It's made a difference certainly with our redshirt kids, because we've got an opportunity to evaluate them even more," said Kill. "Some of them have really done a great job and stepped up. It's also given us a chance to get Jon Christenson and Eddie Olsen healthy for the first time."

The Gophers returned to the team hotel after practice and then ventured off to George Ranch Historical Park for the annual Rodeo Bowl organized by the bowl staff. The seven-event competition pitted Minnesota against Texas Tech and allowed the two teams to see each other for the first time.

The Gophers won the Rodeo Bowl 5-2 posting wins in the Offensive Line Touchdown Dance Competition, Rope The Mascot, Chalk Branding, Calf Ribbon Pull and Hay Bale Toss.

Minnesota was awarded a trophy for winning the Rodeo Bowl and sang an enthusiastic version of the Rouser after earning the win. Both teams then enjoyed a hearty barbecue dinner before departing the park and returning to their respective hotels for the night. 

Gophers Celebrate Holidays In Houston

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Go Gophers! Ra'Shede Hageman
Go Gophers!
Ra'Shede Hageman at Minnesota's Christmas Day practice.
Go Gophers!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

The Gophers celebrated the holiday with a quick, up-tempo practice at nearby St. Thomas High School this afternoon. After practice coach Kill, MarQueis Gray and numerous Gophers who hail from Texas did the media rounds and talked with reporters from the Houston Chronicle and Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.

After practice the players were treated to a Texas-style barbecue of burgers, polish sausage and hot dogs. The Minnesota staff, led by Athletics Director Norwood Teague, grilled up the snack for the players during practice on a state-of-the-art grill dubbed by the St. Thomas staff as the "Holy Smoker."

The players now have a few hours of personal time before gathering for a team dinner at the hotel. After the dinner the players will head to a local theater and take in a movie.

Bowl week really begins to ramp up tomorrow as the Minnesota band and spirit squad travel to Houston in the afternoon. The Gophers will also practice at St. Thomas tomorrow afternoon before participating against Texas Tech in the annual Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas Rodeo Bowl.

The Rodeo Bowl is held outside of Houston at the George Ranch Historical Park and pits the two teams against one another in a series of events. The winner of the rodeo bowl has always gone on to win the actual bowl game as well.

Sunday Filled With Football, Food And Bowling

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Sunday was action-packed for coach Kill and his Gophers.

As player breakfast was wrapping up and meetings were about to begin, coach Kill left the team hotel at 10:30 a.m. to head over to Reliant Stadium where he, along with Texas Tech interim coach Chris Thomsen, served as honorary captains for the Minnesota Vikings and Houston Texans game. The two coaches participated in the coin toss in a game that Minnesota won 23-6.

Upon arriving at the stadium, coach stopped and chatted with Greg Coleman of the Vikings Radio Network and then talked with local Houston media.

"It is a privilege," said Kill of participating in the coin toss. "They are a great organization and I know a lot of people there. Coach Frazier and the job he has done is tremendous. I know a few people on the other side of the ball as well, so it is a great privilege for me to do that and me a part of it."

Kill watched the opening kickoff from the sideline, but was off the field before the first snap of the game had even happened. From there it was back in the car and back to the hotel to help wrap up some meetings and get ready for practice.

The Gophers then loaded up four buses and left for nearby St. Thomas High School at 1:45 p.m. for practice. Minnesota ran through drills for a little more than an hour and then was treated to a post-practice snack of Popeyes chicken (a favorite among the 13 Texans on the Gopher roster).

The buses were then loaded back up and the team went back to the hotel to relax. Coach Kill has said that part of the challenge in being gone for a week during a bowl game is finding a good balance between football activities and non-football activities.

"I think you have to balance it out," said Kill. "When we are concentrating on football, we need to focus on football. But at the same time you have to enjoy the bowl experience and have fun because that is all a part of it. We need to do a good job with a young team making sure we balance that out."

To help achieve that balance, the team went to Lucky Strike Lanes for food, bowling and bonding tonight before returning to the practice field tomorrow.

Kill: "It is a privilege for us to be here in Houston"

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The Minnesota Golden Gophers traveled to Houston yesterday evening in preparation for the Dec. 28 Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas. The Gophers will face Texas Tech in their first bowl game since 2009, but before that happens Minnesota will practice five times at a local high school and will participate in numerous bowl activities.

Upon arrival, the Gophers received a police escort from the Harris County Sheriff's Department and were greeted at their team hotel with a red carpet welcome which included a Texas drumline.

"It is fantastic," said coach Jerry Kill. "This is what you work for. Our kids are excited and it is a privilege for us to be here in Houston."

The Gophers quickly found the team hospitality room at the hotel, which features 15 large TVs with multiple gaming systems and numerous other games and activities. Coach Kill then led a short team meeting, which ended around 10 p.m.

Today, coach Kill will serve as an honorary captain at the Minnesota Vikings and Houston Texans game and will participate in the official coin toss.  

"The Vikings are a great organization and I know a lot of people there," said Kill. "Coach Frazier and the job he has done is tremendous. I know a few people on the other side of the ball as well, so it is a great privilege for me to do that and me a part of it."

After the coin toss Kill will then depart Reliant Stadium and lead his charges through its first practice in Houston.

"We will get started and have a short practice," said Kill, who paced Minnesota through 10 efficient practices at the team complex during the last couple of weeks. "Then we will gradually cut back as we go and make sure we have fresh legs and have our shoulders and are ready to play on Friday."

Before the Gophers and Red Raiders battle on the field, they will participate in numerous bowl events, which includes the Rodeo Bowl on Dec. 26. The winner of the Rodeo Bowl has also gone on to win every Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas. For coach Kill, he is looking forward to seeing his young team in a non-football environment as well.

"I have always said that is the greatest thing about going to a bowl game, all the experiences and all the relationships you are going to build here in Houston," said Kill. "I know our kids are excited about the events. We are looking forward to being in Houston and having a lot of fun."

So there is a lot of fun and football to be had in the next couple of days, but Kill said his message to the team about this week has been clear.  

"I am excited for our seniors," said Kill. "They have gone through a lot and I am so happy for them. And our underclassmen, we are a very young team. I told them that we need to come down to Houston and play hard and represent the state of Minnesota and college football the way it is supposed to be."