Gopher Spring Game Wrapup

Kristopher FieckeCorrespondent IApril 25, 2010

TEMPE, AZ - DECEMBER 31:  Quarterback Adam Weber #8 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers is sacked by Christopher Lyle #55 of the Iowa State Cyclones during the second quarter of the Insight Bowl at Arizona Stadium on December 31, 2009 in Tempe, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Leading up to the 2009 season, Coach Brewster declared that every starting position was up for grabs, except one.  Adam Weber would be the starting quarterback, no ifs ands or buts.

After a less than stellar 2009, Brewster decided that Weber would have to earn his job.  So far, it appears that he has.

Weber has been, and will continue to be pushed by talented sophomore Marquis Gray, who will see the field in one capacity or another, but right now it appears as though Weber will be the team's starting quarterback come September.

Weber didn't exactly set the world on fire at the Spring Game.  His numbers were mediocre, at best.  Weber only completed 8 of 20 passes, but some of those incompletions could be blamed on his receivers, who dropped some easy balls.

Weber did lead the offense on a touchdown drive and looked good on a couple of long strikes to Troy Stoudemire and Da'Jon McKnight. 

Should Weber be named the starting quarterback, he could be helped out greatly by a better Gophers running game.  To say they looked atrocious running the ball at times last year would be an understatement.

New Offensive Coordinator Jeff Horton has preached that the Gophers would return to the style of running game that produced so much success under Glen Mason during his tenure.

While it certainly doesn't appear that any of the backs currently on the roster are as talented as Marion Barber III, Laurence Maroney or Gary Russell, the running game did show some signs of life yesterday.

Duane Bennett looked as sharp as he did before he tore his knee up in 2008.  He combined with Deleon Eskridge to rack up close to 100 yards rushing on only 16 carries in the first half.

In the second half, the defense clamped down on the running game and the going got a lot tougher.  The Gophers front seven was quite aggressive. 

The defense was clearly the strength of the Gophers last season.  Losing the vast majority of your starters is going to be a cause for concern, but it certainly appears that the cupboard isn't exactly bare.

The linebacking crew was pretty good last year, losing Lee Campbell, Simoni Lawrence and Nate Triplett leaves three big holes to fill on the defense.

The good news is that there's plenty of talented players ready and able to fill those roles.  Sam Maresh has found his name in the news this offseason for his mistakes off the field, but at the Spring Game, he made plays on the field, racking up several tackles.

Sophomore linebacker Keanon Cooper continued to make plays from the weakside linebacker position, intercepting a pass during the scrimmage.  Some people have questioned if he has the size to be a Big Ten linebacker, I don't care.  The guy's a playmaker and should be on the field as much as possible. 

I had all but forgotten about outside linebacker Mike Rallis after he sat out last season with an injury.  The former walk-on from Edina is everything that's right about Gopher football.  A hard worker who has earned his scholarship, Rallis sacked Adam Weber twice on Saturday.  He's had an excellent spring and will be a starter come September.

Despite a poor showing from the Gopher fanbase (the announced attendance was less than 5000), there's still plenty of optimism for the coming season.  The schedule is tough, but the Gophers have the talent to overcome that obstacle.  It just remains to be seen if they can put it all together.