#14 Days Until Gopher Football

| No TrackBacks
Go Gophers! 14 Rickey Foggie and Marquel Fleetwood
Go Gophers!
Gophers vs. UNLV (Aug. 29): Buy Tickets

With two weeks left until Gopher football, we bring you a double dose of quarterbacks. Former signal callers Rickey Foggie and Marquel Fleetwood both wore No. 14, and they represent the 14 days left before kickoff.

Foggie is the Gophers' last true freshman starting quarterback to start four straight years. The dual threat QB twice ran for 100-plus yards as a freshman in 1984, including a 153-yard rushing performance against Wisconsin. The Gophers capped off that season with an upset win over Iowa.

Foggie holds Minnesota's career records for quarterback rushing (2,150 yards), quarterback rushing touchdowns (25) and average gain per completion (16.8 yards). He ranks second in games started (42), third in pass efficiency rating (126.24), fifth in touchdown passes (34) and sixth in career yardage (5,162).

With Foggie orchestrating the offense, the Gophers made bowl appearances in 1985 and 1986, winning the '85 Independence Bowl against Clemson. They did not make a bowl Foggie's senior year, but did take back the Little Brown Jug from No. 2 Michigan.

Foggie, a South Carolina native, has made Minnesota his home. After a pro career in the Canadian and Arena Football Leagues, he began coaching. Foggie is currently the head coach at Park Center High School. He is still beloved by Minnesota football fans, and was recognized as one of the all-time "Gopher Greats" before a Gopher game last season.

Fleetwood came along a few years after Foggie's departure, and ended up surpassing some of Foggie's statistical marks. Fleetwood ranks fifth --one spot ahead of Foggie -- in career passing yards with 5,279. He saw action as a back-up in 1989 before becoming the regular starter his next three seasons.

As a senior in 1992, Fleetwood threw 192-for-385 for 2,168 yards, the 15th-best season total in Minnesota history. He twice threw more than 50 passes in a game, completing 35 of 56 against Pittsburgh. That year, Fleetwood also completed the second-longest passing play in school history when he threw to John Lewis for 94 yards against Michigan.

Fleetwood ranks fifth in career completions (465), ninth in completion percentage (.531) and 11th in touchdown passes (18). After his Gopher career, he spent some time in the Canadian Football League.

What They're Saying - Aug. 15

| No TrackBacks

Goal Line Club to host football luncheons (GopherSports)

AUDIO: Kill l Claeys

Filkins a constant on special teams (GopherSports)

Leidner continuing to improve (Pioneer Press)

Freshmen getting looks (1500ESPN)

Minnesota momentum (AP)

Tickets are available (MyGopherSports)

Edwards trending up and other news and notes (Star Tribune)

Friday nights to college heights: De'Vondre Campbell (News Press)

Minnesota season preview (Patriot News)

Filkins a Constant on Special Teams

| No TrackBacks

Jake Filkins learned to long snap in the backyard with his dad. Now he is practicing his craft on a bigger stage -- in TCF Bank Stadium and college football fields around the country. During a fall camp featuring strong competition for the kicking and punting jobs, Filkins is one of the few known quantities.

At the beginning of camp, head coach Jerry Kill said that he felt good about Filkins at long snapper and Peter Mortell at holder. Filkins is glad to have a steady role, but is more concerned about the unit's overall success.

Go Gophers! Jake Filkins
Go Gophers!
Filkins has taken care of all the Gophers' long snaps the past two years.
Go Gophers!
"It feels good," Filkins said. "But the thing is, as a specialist group, we're so close. It doesn't really matter who's in there."

As a freshman in 2010, Filkins was benched in a game after a bad snap on a punt. But when his replacement made a mistake, Filkins came right back in. After that school year, he gave up wrestling for the Gophers, which he had done in 2009-10 and 2010-11, to focus on football. During the 2011 and 2012 seasons, he took of all the long snaps -- for punts, field goals and extra points.

"We've had different kickers and different punters," Filkins said. "But the nice thing is, no matter who's punting or who's holding, we all really work as one. I guess that's probably the best thing I can say about what it's like to be a specialist. It's kind of the undesirable, the unnoticed position, but at the same time, we all embrace and we're all so close because of it. It makes it easy for me to work with anybody."

A few of the Gophers in the kicking and punting battles this fall have either had college game experience or been on the sidelines during the Gophers' games, so they have a sense of what to expect. Ryan Santoso and Justin Juenemann, the two freshmen currently practicing in that group, were more unknown.

"Going in, I was a little worried -- we all were as upperclassmen -- about what's going to happen and how we're going to mesh," Filkins said. "But they both have been great with us. They fit in nicely."

Filkins said that Kill does a good job of putting the kickers in high-pressure scenarios in practice. The Gophers have also set out a cone at 50 yards as a goal for distance on punts. Being a team player, Filkins said he has felt bad when punters have been criticized for inconsistency in recent years.

"For me, I'm just as much a part of the punt as the punter is," he said. "I'm the first half. I have to give a good ball. If he has a bad punt because of a snap that's a foot lower than it should be, then it's a reflection of what I do as well as him."

No one knows yet who will be kicking and punting when the UNLV game rolls around. But whoever it is will have a true veteran snapping him the ball.

What They're Saying - Aug. 14

| No TrackBacks

Secondary aiming high (GopherSports)

AUDIO: Kill l Vereen l Wells

Vereen confident (FSN)

What's your excuse? (Facebook)

15 Days (GopherSports)

Will where the versatile Donovahn Jones play? (Pioneer Press)

Buy Tickets! (MyGopherSports.com)

Wells is ready for the challenge (Star Tribune)

Paper says UNLV at Minnesota is chance for Rebels to make a statement (Las Vegas Sun)

Key schedule stretch will determine Minnesota's fate (Gold & Gopher)

#15 Days Until Gopher Football

| No TrackBacks
Go Gophers! 15 Sandy Stephens
Go Gophers!
Gophers vs. UNLV (Aug. 29): Buy Tickets

The number of today's countdown, 15, is one of five retired by Minnesota football. It belonged to Sandy Stephens, one of the Gophers' all-time greats. The College Football Hall of Fame inductee played quarterback for the Maroon and Gold from 1959 to 1961.

After a 2-7 season in 1959, Stephens helped lead the Gophers to an 8-2 record, a share of the Big Ten title and a national title in 1960. Minnesota capped off the season with the program's first Rose Bowl appearance. The Gophers lost that 1961 Rose Bowl, but were still named national champions.

The next year, Minnesota got another chance in Pasadena. This time, game MVP Stephens rushed for two touchdowns and threw for 75 yards on 7-for-11 passing as the Gophers beat UCLA, 21-3.

Stephens was named a First Team All-American and the Big Ten MVP, and finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1961. He was the first African-American quarterback selected for an All-America First Team.

In 1962, Stephens was drafted in both the NFL and AFL, but neither team that picked him wanted him to play quarterback. He did play quarterback for the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League for a few seasons.

Stephens died in 2000, but his legacy lives on. The U of M retired his No. 15 that year, and his name and number are on display at TCF Bank Stadium now. In 2011, Stephens was finally inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Bonus reading: 
- ESPN blog post on Stephens' College Football HOF induction
- FSN's take on the induction
- 2000 Sports Illustrated article after Stephens' death
- 2008 Big Ten feature: Stephens dreamed of a Rose Bowl before he put on the M

Gopher Secondary Aiming High

| No TrackBacks

The Gophers' pass defense ranked fourth in the Big Ten and 12th nationally in 2012. Despite losing two of its starters, the Minnesota secondary does not anticipate any type of drop-off.

Go Gophers! Brock Vereen
Go Gophers!
Vereen: "To be the best secondary in the Big Ten is our goal."
Go Gophers!
"Mike Carter and Troy Stoudermire were great players, but we still have confidence going forward that we'll be a better secondary," senior safety Brock Vereen said. "To be the best secondary in the Big Ten is our goal."

Vereen is one of the secondary's top returners. He switched from cornerback to safety last year, and continued to grow into the position as the year went on. Vereen is even more comfortable in that spot now that he is in his second season playing there.

Junior Derrick Wells is another returning starter, although he will be at a different position than last fall. He moved from safety to cornerback, and is bigger than both the departing senior starters he will help to replace. Like Vereen, Wells anticipates the defensive backs continuing to build upon last year's improvements.

"I think we are more athletic in the secondary," he said. "We have a lot of speed, a lot of size."

Eric Murray's name has been tossed around as one to watch this year, but Wells also mentioned that Briean Boddy-Calhoun and Martez Shabazz have potential for good seasons.

Head coach Jerry Kill emphasized the team aspect of defense. The linemen, linebackers and secondary all need to be effective in order to truly stop opposing offenses.

"I think if the team gets better, the secondary will be good," Kill said.

With a veteran defensive line and some up-and-coming linebackers, the Gopher defensive backs are not on their own. And with the goal of being the best in the Big Ten, they certainly will not lack motivation and intensity.

#16 Days Until Gopher Football

| No TrackBacks
Go Gophers! 16 Rhys Lloyd
Go Gophers!
Gophers vs. UNLV (Aug. 29): Buy Tickets

Former No. 16 Rhys Lloyd represents the 16 days left until the Gophers take on UNLV. Now would be a good time to relive one of Lloyd's most memorable moments:

The 2003 Wisconsin game was not the only time Lloyd made a game-winning field goal. He also drilled a 42-yarder to beat Oregon in the Sun Bowl on New Year's Eve that year.

A native of Dover, England, and a graduate of Eastview High School in Minnesota, Lloyd transferred to the U from junior college in 2003. He had an immediate impact, converting from 52 yards on his first field goal attempt as a Gopher. A few games into his Minnesota career, he took over punting as well as kicking duties and continued to do both through 2004.

Lloyd holds Minnesota's top two season totals for extra points, making 59 in 2003 and 43 in 2004. He ranks 10th in school history in career scoring (180 points) despite playing for only two years. Lloyd's two seasons rank fifth (2003) and seventh (2004) in scoring. He is fourth in field goal accuracy (.722) and tied for the fourth-longest field goal (54 yards).

Lloyd has been a member of various NFL teams, most notably the Carolina Panthers. He was the Panthers' primary kickoff specialist from 2008 to 2010, leading the NFL with 30 touchbacks in 2008.

What They're Saying - Aug. 13

| No TrackBacks

"Five Is One" is the goal for the O-line (GopherSports.com)

Audio: Kill talks after Monday practice

Receivers are confident (Star Tribune)

Keise hopes perseverance pays off (Pioneer Press)

Trap game? (ESPN.com)

Looking for that signature win (The Daily Gopher)

Three-point stance (ESPN.com)

Offensive Line: "Five Is One"

| No TrackBacks

Not one senior played on the Gopher offensive line in 2012. With no departing seniors, there are no automatically open spots to fill on the depth chart. This fall, a bigger pool of linemen are competing for the same number of spots as before.

Go Gophers! Caleb Bak
Go Gophers!
Bak is a returning starter for Minnesota.
Go Gophers!
"It's been a lot of good competition, which is great," right guard Caleb Bak said. "When you have competition, people below each other will help fuel people above each other. Competition is just naturally good."

Although Bak started the Gophers' final 11 games last season, he must still take the competition from his teammates seriously. At the same time, the linemen know they are all on the same side.

"Everyone's really friendly with each other," Bak said. "It's a very friendly atmosphere."

Junior left tackle Marek Lenkiewicz, who is competing with senior Ed Olson for the starting spot, echoed that sentiment. He said the offensive line's motto is, "Five is one." The line must work as a single unit in order to be effective. 

Lenkiewicz said that continuity within the group, being together with many of the same guys for the past few years, is important. Everyone from 2012 is back again with another year of experience.

"It's fantastic," Bak said. "It's something you don't get a lot. Most programs you're going to go into, you're going to have people who play only their junior or senior year. Here, we have a bunch of guys who played their freshman and sophomore years. We're coming in with a lot of experience, so it's looking to be a good year for the offensive line."

#17 Days Until Gopher Football

| No TrackBacks
Go Gophers! 17 Cory Sauter
Go Gophers!
Gophers vs. UNLV (Aug. 29): Buy Tickets

With 17 days left until Gopher football, today's countdown is brought to you by Cory Sauter. A quarterback for Minnesota from 1994 to 1997, Sauter held multiple school records at the end of his career.

Sauter still holds a record with seven 300-plus-yard games. He also has the sophomore record for touchdown passes (18) and the junior record for completions (200). Sauter's career total of 6,834 yards now ranks third in Gopher history. He is now second in attempts (945) and completions (539) behind Adam Weber, and fourth in touchdown passes (40).

Sauter is tied for second in completion percentage (.570). His 7-for-7 game against Ohio State in 1995 ties a game record for accuracy. The list of his top-10 statistical accomplishments goes on and on.

A few of Sauter's favorite targets were Ryan Thelwell and Tutu Atwell. Watch highlights of Sauter and that duo below.

Sauter was named co-Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week after passing 23-for-37 for 285 yards and two touchdowns against Illinois in 1996. Sauter completed a career-high 29 passes against Northwestern in 1995, and threw for 404 yards and four touchdowns against Michigan State that same season. 

After his Gopher career, Sauter was on a few NFL rosters as well as playing in NFL Europe. He then started coaching and is currently the head coach at Southwest Minnesota State.

Bonus reading: 1997 game program feature on Sauter


Proud Sponsors Of Gopher Athletics