Minnesota’s football team saw its first live, game-like environment Saturday, and continued the learning experience for its potential quarterbacks.
The windy first scrimmage of the spring at Gibson-Nagurski Football Complex allowed sophomore Bryan Cupito, freshman John Carlson and junior college transfer Adam Ernst to put what they’ve been learning to test.
So far, the man who has been with the team for longer than a few weeks has expectedly shown more ability.
“I thought Bryan Cupito played well today,” coach Glen Mason said. “I can tell you that just from handling the offense, he’s way advanced as to where I would have thought he’d be.”
Mason went so far as to say Cupito’s ability to command the offense is further along at this point in his career than the team’s pair of departed quarterbacks – starter Asad Abdul-Khaliq and backup Benji Kamrath.
Mason isn’t the only one impressed with Cupito.
“He’s got a ways to go, but it almost looks like he’s going to be the guy that takes the reins for us,” said Darrell Reid, who is in the midst of a switch from defensive end to defensive tackle. “We’ve got to rally around him.”
Cupito said he feels comfortable and problem-free at this point, but he also emphasized that fact that he still has yet to lead the team in an actual game.
Despite Cupito’s emergence, Carlson and Ernst remain in the mix.
Mason said he’s throwing things at the newcomers very fast – probably faster than they can currently handle.
This combined with the gusty winds on the field Saturday made for short passes and underneath routes, and the team struggled to connect on the deep pass.
“The wind was pretty tough today, so we wanted to run the ball and develop the pass,” Carlson said. “We could’ve done a better job of throwing, but it was tough with the wind.”
Overall, the defense only allowed one touchdown and earned several turnovers in the hour-long scrimmage.
Mason said the scrimmage was what he had anticipated, because of the anxiety and change of pace involved in the live scrimmage.
He also maintained that despite the youthful leaders of the offense, the defense is not ahead of the offense at this point in spring practice.
“They both can’t win on the same day,” Mason said. “This is about what I had anticipated.”
Defensive linemen Anthony Montgomery and Mark Losli did not take part in the scrimmage because of injuries, but Mason said they are OK.
“We’ve got an assortment of minor injuries – just nagging,” Mason said. “It’s nothing serious at all. But it’s weird. Everything’s different. Pulled hamstring, turf toe – you name it, we’ve got it right now.”