It has been a busy week for Minnesota sports. College football camp wages on and our quarterbacks continue to battle for the starting spot. A once promising big man has left the Gophers basketball team. Senior Desi Steib and freshman Ryan Collado are battling for a starting cornerback position. Sophomores Lee Campbell, Matt Stommes and Derrick Onwuachi are in competition for a starting defensive end spot. Freshman Duane Bennett is pressuring sophomore Jay Thomas to back up Amir Pinnix at tailback. Freshmen Tray Herndon, Ralph Spry and Damien White are battling sophomores Mike Chambers, Marcus Sherels and Ben Kuznia for a starting receiver spot. Sophomores Nick Tow-Arnett and Troy Reilly are in competition to back up tight end Jack Simmons.
And in case you didn't realize it, we're two weeks away from blowing out Bowling Green.
Now for the weekly series of links to check out.
** That Gophers quarterback battle is continuing according to the Star Tribune's Chip Scoggins. I predicted Thursday that Weber would be the opening day starter, and Scoggins' reporting continues to hint at that. He wrote: "Redshirt freshman Adam Weber continued Friday to work almost exclusively with the first team and seems to have pulled ahead of Mortensen in that competition." The only scrimmage of camp will take place today (Saturday) and could allow Weber to distance himself from Mortensen or allow Mortensen to close the gap.
** In the same article, Scoggins indicates that true freshman Harold Howell, the track star out of Flordia that Brewster recruited and was exceptionally high on, will return kicks and punts. This is what Brewster previously said about Howell: "We are extremely excited and fired up about Harold Howell. Harold Howell is going to return kicks and punts for us. ... Because if we give Harold Howell a crease, if we give that young guy a change, he’s out."
** The Pioneer Press' beat reporter Marcus Fuller also weighs in on the quarterback battle and suggests that today's scrimmage could determine a lot. He writes: "It's becoming clearer by each practice that it will be a two-man race. The quarterback who shows better passing accuracy today could have an edge. Brewster said 7-on-7 situations don't give a true indication of how a young quarterback will perform under pressure."
** In the same article, Fuller highlights a handful of other position battles brewing in camp. He states other battles to watch include:
The other day I walked through the quarterback battle. I plan to do the same with a look at the secondary and wide receiver positions in the coming days.
** The Chicago Tribune's Neil Milbert offers a balanced preview of the Gophers football team. Milbert writes, in part: "The Gophers will contend for the Big Ten title if ... the new spread offense enables junior Tony Mortensen, redshirt freshman Adam Weber or true freshman Clint Brewster to excel at quarterback; young wide receivers and defensive backs make plays; and defensive coordinator Everett Withers repairs one of the worst defenses in the nation." Can't say I disagree with any of that.
** Iowa State unveiled its entire 2007-08 basketball schedule this week. On it, the Cyclones play the Gophers on Nov. 20. Iowa State blog the Clone Chronicles had this to say about that tilt in Ames. "Minnesota, despite having Tubby Smith, shouldn't be a huge challenge at Hilton."
** My take on the Bryce Webster departure dealt primarily with the lack of media attention to the story. Fellow Minnesota blogger Gopher Nation adds his two cents and does a good job of looking at what the deaparture means for the program. This is what Tom at Gopher Nation writes, and he's completely right.
We have razor thin depth at all positions but there is at least there is marginal hope or potential with a few G/F's. Incoming freshman Hoffarber, incoming recruit Nate Garth, Junior-Brandon Smith have some potential, and I hold out marginal hope for Kevin Payton and Damien Johnson to at least contribute at the Big Ten level. None of those five can play the 4 or 5 so there is a MAJOR problem that will hit this program very soon. I know Tubby is working hard to land a big man or two, BUT he hasn't landed anybody yet and we should all be concerned.Tubby reportedly tried to convince Webster to stay, so it would seem Tubby is aware of the lack of depth the program will have at the 4 and 5 slots after this year. Tom is right to be worried about the future. Tubby has his work cut out for him to turn around this program. And it's going to start with a perhaps do or die Class of 2008.
** One more item quickly. It's somewhat unproductive to set up a Google news alert for Royce White, you know, hoping to get updates on the standout prep high school player from DeLaSalle. While you'll get a couple emails per week dealing with the sophomore stud, you'll receive hundreds more emails trying to sell you a white Rolls Royce.
Senior Desi Steib and freshman Ryan Collado are battling for a starting cornerback position.
Sophomores Lee Campbell, Matt Stommes and Derrick Onwuachi are in competition for a starting defensive end spot.
Freshman Duane Bennett is pressuring sophomore Jay Thomas to back up Amir Pinnix at tailback.
Freshmen Tray Herndon, Ralph Spry and Damien White are battling sophomores Mike Chambers, Marcus Sherels and Ben Kuznia for a starting receiver spot.
Sophomores Nick Tow-Arnett and Troy Reilly are in competition to back up tight end Jack Simmons.