It's hard to believe the University of Minnesota football team is already one-third of the way through spring practice. Head coach Jerry Kill and his staff put the Gophers through their paces in the fifth workout of the spring practice season Thursday afternoon.
It was another intense practice. For the second straight session, there was a board drill - two players facing off mano-a-mano - early in the day. While the Gophers still aren't allowed to tackle all the way to the ground, they are allowed plenty of contact and there was a good amount Thursday.
Following the workout, Coach Kill was fired up and intense as well. He was fairly animated as he addressed the team after practice.
"That's just Coach Kill. It was nothing harsh," Kill said. "That's just how I teach. I think I've been pretty consistent for five days. I tell it like it is. I expect people to play hard and work hard all the time. I think they did fine. I think we can do better. I always strive to get the best out of anybody I work with. Who wants to be around people who are just going to be OK? We want to try to be the best. We're not around forever in life. There's a lot of people who just kind of go through life and just kind of go halfway through. I want to go full speed and I want a football team that goes full speed."
Reppin' the U
One way the Gophers go full speed is through a very quick tempo. That tempo means more plays get run and more drills can be performed.
"Repetitions, it's the only way you learn," Kill said. "You can't learn standing on the sideline not doing anything. The only way you learn is doing something over and over and over. I believe in repetitions. The more you do something, the better you're going to get at it."
It was about this time last year, when defensive back Kim Royston went high in the air in an attempt to break up a pass. But the only thing he broke on the play was his left leg when he landed wrong on it. It was a compound fracture of the tibia and fibula and it looked as though his career was in jeopardy.
But by August, he was attending Big Ten Media Days, had been named a Gopher captain and it sounded as though he may play in the season-opener, or at least sometime in the 2010 season. But after what seemed like a miraculous recovery slowed a bit, he was never able to get on the field last year. Then, he got the good news earlier this year that the NCAA had granted him a sixth year of eligibility.
Now, just three months removed from having a second titanium rod placed in the leg, Royston is in full pads and running around the Gibson-Nagurski Football Complex practice field with his teammates. All indications point to the veteran safety being on the field this fall.
"I feel good," Royston said. "I'm not 100 percent. But I'm out here running around and we don't play a game for like five months, so I feel great with where I'm at right now."
Royston said this spring camp has a very positive feeling to it and he enjoys playing for Coach Kill.
"There's definitely a newfound energy around here," he said. "Obviously, you guys can tell Coach Kill is a hard-nosed, no-nonsense type of guy. If you're a ball-player, football is football. If you're a competitor, you like the coaches getting on you. Hopefully that brings the best out in you."
Kill says he believes Royston will "be very valuable to us" in the fall.
Royston graduated this past May and has already begun working on his master's degree in education administration.
Although he tossed a couple interceptions throughout the course of Thursday's workout, Coach Kill had praise for quarterback MarQueis Gray.
"I think he's doing very well," Kill said. "He's seeing all kinds of coverages. He's probably seen five or six different coverages and all kinds of blitzes. I think he's getting better on a daily basis. You're going to throw some interceptions in practice. Throw them in practice, not in a game. He'll learn from the film. I'm pleased with his advancement to this point."
- Phil Miller of the Star-Tribune writes that defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys is a fan of cornerback Troy Stoudermire .
- Yesterday, Miller blogged about the decision-making skills Gopher QBs will need in the Kill-Limegrover offense.
- The Pioneer Press features red-shirt freshman Jimmy Gjere .
The Gophers are scheduled to work out at TCF Bank Stadium for the first time in 2011 Saturday. Just like all the other spring workouts, the practice is open to the public. Fans are asked to enter the stadium through the entrance under the Lake of the Woods county sign. Fans will be allowed to stand on the sideline and sit in certain parts of the lower bowl. The gates will open Saturday at 2:45 p.m.
-By Andy Seeley, Associate Director of Athletic Communications