There is one day left of on-field practices during fall camp. So today we begin to wind down our camp coverage and will start getting ready for the regular season. The Gophers had last Sunday off, so the team ventured out to Dave & Busters to partake in some competitive fun. The guys over at GopherGridiron.com tagged along and put together a video of their exploits.
The Gophers have been back on the field this week and practiced for two hours this morning. After practice we caught up with coach Kill and offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover. Minnesota is in full game preparation mode now, which means the coaches have a tough decision to make: Who will travel to UNLV?
Coach Kill talks about why today and tomorrow will have a big impact on making that decision, while Limegrover discusses Minnesota's skill players and true freshman who may make an impact.
Mike Rallis echoes the familiar words that almost every senior who has played college football has said at least once.
"Seems like yesterday I was walking through those doors as a freshman," said Rallis, who is now a redshirt senior. "But at the same time I have been here for a long time. This is the only home I know so I am just trying to soak in every last moment of it."
For Rallis he just does not want to enjoy the moment. He knows this year is his last opportunity to help turn around a program and leave his mark on Gopher football. His goals for this year are simple.
"I want to do whatever I can do to help the team win," he said. "That is a big thing. I want to win. I don't want to put any limit on what we can do as a team. We just have to take it one game at a time. We are not going to go into any game expecting to lose."
Rallis has received his fair share of football accolades over the years, but when asked what the best compliment he has ever received was, he had one answer.
"The best thing somebody can say about you as a football player is that you are a tough guy," said Rallis, who has made 146 career tackles as a Gopher. "That is the best thing you can hear as a football player."
The Edina native is impossible to miss on the football field. He came to Minnesota with a short haircut, but his long, brown mane has become his calling card. And don't think for a moment that he is going to cut it during his senior year.
"It seems like every year I grew it out to a certain point, but then I would get sick of it and shave it off," said Rallis. "That was my routine for a while, but now I have gone too far to turn back."
For quarterback MarQueis Gray, his senior season is about doing many things for the last time and hopefully doing some things for the first time as well.
Right now, he is in the last fall camp of his collegiate career. Pretty soon, the season will begin and his final games as a Gopher will begin counting down.
What is he going to miss the most when his Maroon and Gold career is all over?
"Everyone that I have talked to who has left said there is nothing like college game day on Saturdays," said Gray. "That will be one of the main things that I am going to miss."
There is time for nostalgia later, but right now Gray is only concerned about leading the Gophers during the upcoming season. The senior enters the year with a mountain of confidence and is much more comfortable with the offense in his second full season as the starting quarterback.
He also knows all eyes will be on him this year.
"Everyone is going to have high hopes for a quarterback and I know that as well," he said. "I know I have to play every game like it is my last and go out there and have fun and compete. I know if this team has success then I will be successful. I am ready to get this season underway."
His goals for this year? Well, that where doing something for the first time as a Gopher comes into play.
"To lead this team to a bowl win, not just to a bowl game," Gray said. "I have been telling everybody that my main goal is to win a bowl game this year."
Two weeks from today--or two weeks from right now actually--you may be watching the Gophers open the 2012 college football season at UNLV. Minnesota is still in fall camp, but scrimmaged today before practicing twice on Friday and then scrimmaging Saturday night under the lights at TCF Bank Stadium.
Coach Jerry Kill has mentioned Eric Murray--and how fast he is--a few times when speaking with the media after fall camp practices this year. The freshman from Wisconsin played mostly wide receiver in high school, but has switched to cornerback as a Golden Gopher. We caught up with Murray to find out what he is all about.
GopherSports: What ultimately led to you choosing to become a Golden Gopher and how does it feel to be one?
Eric Murray: "The decision came from the coaching staff, they're pretty cool. I like everything about them, like working hard and stuff. I feel really good about the decision. It's been a nice little transition from high school to here. I'm being taken care of so it's good."
GopherSports: How are you enjoying campus so far?
Murray: "Campus is great, It has an amazing feel to it."
GopherSports: What, if anything, has surprised you about campus so far?
Murray: "Just how big it is, it's huge."
GopherSports: Do you have a planned major yet?
Murray: "I plan on majoring in biology."
GopherSports: What are your goals for the upcoming season and for your college career?
Murray: "hopefully I can get some playing time this year. Later on I'm looking to work my way in as a long-term starter."
GopherSports: Is there any extra motivation for when you play against Wisconsin since you are from there?
Murray: "No, not really. I have motivation against them since I play for Minnesota now."
GopherSports: Is there a particular athlete you try to model yourself after?
Murray: "Not really, I just try to work hard and push myself as far as I can go."
GopherSports: What is your biggest strength in your opinion and what do you need to improve on?
Murray: "I need to improve on my technique as a defensive back since it's my first year at the position. My strength is probably my biggest strength. I'm pretty big for a DB, I'm long and tall."
GopherSports: You are wearing No. 31 this year. Why is that?
Murray: "That's what I got."
GopherSports: Is there any certain music you listen to to get psyched up for games?
Murray: "I like to listen to a lot of Wiz Khalifa, I like everything he says."
The senior linebacker enters his final season at Minnesota feeling more prepared for the upcoming season than ever before.
"These are the best practices we have had since I have been here," said Cooper. "A lot of that is because of the summer captain's practices we had. A lot of guys know what we want to do. A lot of people are running around a lot faster. People are doing a lot less thinking and a lot more running and are making more plays."
As a senior, Cooper has also taken on a leadership role on the team. Whether it is on the field during practice situations or off the field dealing with life situations, Cooper is there for his teammates.
"I will pull them to the side and let them know this is how we do it (at Minnesota)," said Cooper. "All of them have done a great job of listening so far. If it gets to coach Kill; that is something you do not want. If you get in the doghouse with coach Kill then it is going to be hard to get out."
Although the linebacker corps is expected to be led by upperclassmen this season, the overall Minnesota team is young and inexperienced. Cooper, who expects the linebackers to have a big year, said that only means one thing.
"There are a lot of guys who are going to be young this year, so next year there will be even more experience on the field," said Cooper. "I am pretty sure they will be even better than us this year."