Gophers football notes: Sawvel still expected to be DC

Ben Gotz

The Gophers have filled their open coordinator spot on the offensive side of the ball, now they just need to do it on defense.

But don't expect any suprises when the announcement is made, head coach Tracy Claeys said Friday. Defensive backs coach Jay Sawvel, who ran the team's defense in its 21-14 bowl game victory over Central Michigan, is still in line for the promotion.

"It’ll be coach Sawvel. He did a great job, guys did a great job during the bowl game," Claeys said. "Him and [assistant defensive backs coach Dan O’Brien] will get comfortable working together, how they want to do that in secondary."

Claeys added Sawvel will get a graduate assistant to help coach the defensive backs during the game so he can focus on making defensive adjustments.

Sawvel held Central Michigan to 249 total yards in the Gophers bowl game victory while in charge of the defense. As the Gophers secondary coach he turned underrecruited players like senior cornerbacks Eric Murray and Briean Boddy-Calhoun into likely NFL draft picks, and both were named to the All-Big Ten third team by the media this season. Murray was also selected to the third team by the coaches and will be attending the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama in late January.

Backup quarterback Perra transferring

Gophers third string quarterback Jacques Perra confirmed he was seeking a transfer from Minnesota on Twitter Thursday.

The former Roseville standout is the fourth player known to be leaving the Minnesota program this offseason, along with running back Berkley Edwards, wide receiver Desmond Gant and cornerback Craig James.

Perra was named the Minnesota player of the year after his senior year at Roseville high school and joined the Minnesota football team as a walk on. He redshirted the 2014 season and only saw action against Purdue this season.

His transfers will leave the Gophers thin at quarterback during spring practice with incumbent starter Mitch Leidner recovering from a foot surgery that will keep him off the field for three months. The remaining quarterbacks on the Gophers roster are sophomore Demry Croft and walk-on Conor Rhoda, and soon former East Ridge high school standout Seth Green will join the team as an early enrollee.

Adam Weber staying

Graudate assistant Adam Weber will be staying with the Gophers for another season, Claeys said Friday.

Weber is the Gophers all-time leading passer and worked with the team's quarterbacks last year. He served as the team's quarterback coach in its bowl game after Claeys chose to not renew the contract of quarterbacks coach Jim Zebrowski. Under Weber's coaching Leidner completed 24 of 30 passes for 223 yards against Central Michigan with two total touchdowns and one interception. Leidner was named the Quick Lane Bowl's most valuable player.

"Him and [new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Jay Johnson] will be working and what that will allow Jay to do through spring ball … it’ll allow him to roam quite a bit because Adam does a nice job," Claeys said. "Jay will be able to move around and make sure that everything’s fitting in accordingly to how he thinks it should. We’re excited to have Adam back. I thought he did a great job with Mitch there towards the end of the season. He’s got a great future in front of him."

Johnson on QBs

Johnson on the top priority for his quarterbacks:

"I think one, the most important thing that guy’s has to do, he’s got to get the 10 around him to play at a new level. Because if he can do that he’ll be pretty good. So that means that receiver has to play for him, the back, the o-linemen if it’s third-and-one. I just think that comes with that persona, it comes with how they communicate with the rest of the teammates and that’s the whole deal and it’s an all the time deal. It’s very challenging and they’re in a different deal and that’s just part of being a quarterback."

Application overload

Claeys said Johnson and new Gophers offensive line coach Bart Miller were both on his short list of candidates for their respective positions, but the open jobs attracted a lot of interest. Claeys said he estimated 150 to 200 people reached out to him about the two jobs, and he tried to call, email or text back every applicant while he was on the road recruiting.

David Cobb visiting

With his rookie NFL season over former Minnesota running back David Cobb stopped by the Gophers facility on Friday.

Cobb was selected in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans and finished his first season with 52 carries for 146 yards and one touchdown. The Titans finished the year 3-13 despite drafting promising quarterback Marcus Mariota and hold the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.