Spring game offers glance at 2010

Senior Adam Weber seemed to lock up the starting QB job.

Players salute the crowd after a preseason scrimmage game at the TCF Stadium, Saturday.

Joe Michaud-Scorza

Players salute the crowd after a preseason scrimmage game at the TCF Stadium, Saturday.

by John Hageman

The Minnesota football teamâÄôs spring game was hailed by many as a final exam for quarterbacks Adam Weber and MarQueis Gray , and the test was fairly conclusive. Minnesota head coach Tim Brewster said that within the next two weeks the team would name its starting quarterback, but all signs Saturday pointed to Weber. Though Gray had the only touchdown throw of the afternoon âÄî a 38-yard pass to senior Hayo Carpenter âÄî he also threw the only interception. Weber was on the field more than any of the other quarterbacks, tallying 20 pass attempts versus a combined 14 by the other three. âÄúI thought Adam Weber looked extremely comfortable out on the field today,âÄù Brewster said. âÄúHis fifth-year experience showed up today, and some of [GrayâÄôs] inexperience showed up today.âÄù The defense won the spring game 49-26 under an adjusted scoring system. The offense scored two touchdowns for 14 points and four field goals for another 12 points. The defense was awarded 12 points for their two takeaways, along with points for sacks, forced punts or field goals, three-and-outs and tackle for losses. Gray didnâÄôt necessarily play badly, but Weber seemed to have a better command of the offense and made fewer mental errors. âÄúMarQueis is a young quarterback and quarterback is a tough position to play,âÄù co-offensive coordinator Jeff Horton said. âÄúMy challenge to him was he wasnâÄôt going to be just a package guy. He was going to learn the whole book, not just chapters four, five and six.âÄù WeberâÄôs first drive of the game included a 56-yard heave to junior Troy Stoudermire that set up junior DeLeon EskridgeâÄôs 1-yard touchdown run. But WeberâÄôs most complete drive was a 5-for-9 effort on a 47-yard march down the field as time was winding down in the first half. Senior Eric Ellestad capped the drive with a 35-yard field goal. Although Weber put his best foot forward Saturday, he reiterated he does not feel his job is secure. âÄúItâÄôs one of those things where you have to go out there every single day and you have to perform,âÄù Weber said. âÄúRegardless of who gets the starting nod, theyâÄôre going to have to earn that job every single game.âÄù Freshman Moses Alipate and sophomore Adam Lueck saw limited action. They went 2-for-7 and 14 yards combined. Whoever is under center in the fall will have to continue to adjust to life without Eric Decker, who missed the latter half of the 2009 season with a Lisfranc fracture and was drafted Friday by the Denver Broncos . The GophersâÄô receivers struggled with a number of drops Saturday. âÄúIt was a little frustrating and thatâÄôs why I donâÄôt judge one practice; I look at the overall improvement,âÄù Weber said. âÄúAnd overall, theyâÄôve been making big strides.âÄù Brewster added that while the secondary was able to strip a couple of catches away from the receivers, he was disappointed they didnâÄôt catch more passes. âÄúWe had our hands on a couple of balls that I thought we should have caught,âÄù Brewster said. âÄúI think we have to be mentally tougher to make those tough, hard catches.âÄù Junior DaâÄôJon McKnight led the team with three catches for 53 yards, and Weber said he will be a major part of the offense. âÄúDaâÄôJon is probably the most talented guy we have,âÄù Weber said. âÄúBut he still has some stuff to improve on.âÄù McKnight added that he has been able to be more consistent in his route-running and learning to read the defense. The only solidified linebacker spot is reserved for sophomore Mike Rallis , who had two sacks Saturday. Rallis said this group of linebackers is young, but they learned a lot from the group that left last season. âÄúWe have come in all together, trained together and learned the defense together,âÄù Rallis said. âÄúWeâÄôre all young and inexperienced, but thatâÄôs not an excuse for us; we need to step up and make more good plays than bad plays.âÄù With the spring practices coming to a close and some of the starters becoming clearer, Brewster still saw the spring game as a chance for the team to compete for positions. âÄúNobody feels comfortable, and I think that is a very positive thing,âÄù Brewster said. âÄúThere was a lot of anxious guys âĦ I like the feel we had in the locker room before the spring game.âÄù