Big plays highlight football scrimmage

Ben Gotz

Entering fall camp, Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill was looking for more explosive plays from his football team.

Both sides of the ball delivered at a two-hour team scrimmage Saturday in Seafoam Stadium at Concordia University in St. Paul, with several big plays on offense from the team’s young skill position players.

“We’re seeing a lot of young guys make some plays,” Kill said. “I felt good about it.”

On the first team offense’s second drive of the scrimmage, starting quarterback Mitch Leidner hit redshirt freshman wide receiver Melvin Holland Jr. on a slant for a first down, and Holland took off after the catch for a 56 yard gain.

“He’s been looking good,” Leidner said. “He’s a very fast, explosive player so that didn’t really surprise me.”

Another big play came in the passing game when redshirt freshman quarterback Jacques Perra hit freshman wide receiver Rashad Still for a 35 yard touchdown, and freshman quarterback Demry Croft later hit redshirt junior wide receiver E.J. Sardinha near the end of the scrimmage for a touchdown of the same length.

Leidner and Croft also picked up touchdowns on the ground.

The Gophers second team defense also created a big play on their first snap of the scrimmage, when redshirt sophomore linebacker Coddy Poock intercepted redshirt sophomore quarterback Chris Streveler and returned the pick for a touchdown.

Brooks’ hard running stands out

One of the team’s biggest plays in the running game came from freshman running back Shannon Brooks, who took off for a 34 yard gain with the third team.

Brooks also saw some time with the second team offense and impressed, bouncing off tacklers and finishing runs despite some small holes to work with.

“He’s pretty tough, isn’t he? He runs pretty hard,” Kill said. “He’ll be sore tomorrow, but I like the way he ran that football.”

Croft continues strong camp

Freshman passer Croft saw a lot of action in the team’s scrimmage, taking snaps with the second and third team offenses.

After the scrimmage, where Croft recorded a touchdown on the ground and through the air, Kill said the Rockford, Illinois native has continued to stand out in camp.

“He’s just an instinctive guy,” Kill said. “He’s got an extreme amount of talent.”

Injury Updates

– Tight end Lincoln Plsek might not be ready for the team’s opening game against TCU, Kill said after practice

– Tight end Duke Anyanwu had knee surgery Kill said, but is only expected to miss a week or two

Other Notes

– Streveler traded his yellow quarterback jersey for a white offensive jersey near the end of practice, and took several snaps at wide receiver

– Freshman linebacker Julian Huff will play this season, Kill said. Huff has been a standout on the second team defense and will help on special teams

– Kill focused on the Gophers interior offensive line for much of the scrimmage.

“I was enticed in interior line there because that’s where you win games,” Kill said. “That needed to get a little better.”

– Eden Prairie athlete J.D. Spielman verbally committed to Nebraska Saturday. The Gophers were in his top five schools.