The Gophers football team underwent serious reconstructive measures during the winter and came out with a new group of coaches, a bunch of new players and different offensive and defensive plans for next season.
Minnesota coach Glen Mason said he doesn’t quite know how that combination will fall into place or what to expect as the team started spring practice on Tuesday.
When asked about his goals for the next four weeks, Mason paused for a second and said, “I don’t have any idea. I always look forward to spring practice with great anticipation, but today I’ve got a feeling of anxiety.
“We’re going to have a new offense and a new defense, and we have a limited time to accomplish a great amount. I don’t even know what the strengths and weaknesses of this team are.”
The coaches adopted the philosophy that they will begin very slowly and figure out the best plan after spring practice is over.
“It’s like they are learning to talk,” Mason said, “but they are learning to speak a new language, starting from the ground up.”
While Mason does not have an idea of what could happen over the next month, he does have a list of four objectives for spring practice:
To evaluate the overall talent level on the team.
To experiment with different offenses and defenses, and toy with possibly switching certain players to different positions according to physical ability and need.
To teach the fundamentals of the game and ensure that the players have a grasp of what is expected of them.
To get a much better football team by the time fall practice opens.
Mason said he plans to get an idea of what he has to work with before making any drastic changes, but he added that he has no fear of making those alterations.
“Obviously, we’ve got players in a number of positions who have had a chance to play,” Mason said. “But in saying that, all positions are up for grabs. We’ve got to do that to be fair to the players and to be fair to the program.”
The Gophers will practice about every other day for the next month before having their annual spring intrasquad game on Apr. 26 at the Metrodome.