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Updated: August 9th, 2013 1:07am
Gophers fall camp Day 7: Defense impresses with dominance on goal-line

Gophers fall camp Day 7: Defense impresses with dominance on goal-line

by Nate Sandell
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Notes from Day 7 of Minnesota Gophers fall camp

• In the spring, whenever the Gophers went into goal-line drills, it was a pretty good bet the offense would come away with the upper hand. It was impressive at the time, given the offense's struggles in short yardage situations throughout the 2012 season.

However, the defense reversed the offense's trend in practice Thursday. Coach Jerry Kill came away shaking his head and laughing slightly after the defense dominated on the goal-line.

"Today they didn't get hardly anything," Kill said. "The defense ate them alive. It goes back and forth."

The change in advantage was a pleasing sight for Gophers defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys, and it also gave credit to the building continuity and strength on the "U" D-line.

"We did those goal-line (drills) four days in the spring," Claeys said. "We got kicked every day. We were running (after practice) every day. We might have won two series the whole spring. It was kind of like a game (today). We got that rush and we won the first one or two series, and then it just kind of flooded. I was excited to see it."

• Saturday will mark not only the Gophers' first scrimmage of camp, but it will also be their first two-a-day. The end of summer classes prevented the team from running two practices per day until the second weekend of camp.

The Gophers are scheduled to run a special teams scrimmage Saturday morning before moving over to TCF Bank Stadium for a full 11-on-11 situational scrimmage (4:40 p.m.), which is open to the public.

• Next week Kill is expecting to keep an eye on the number of reps given to his more veteran players, such as senior defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman, in order to make sure the team stays as healthy and fresh as possible as the Aug. 29 season opener approaches.

• Defensively, the Gophers plan to run three teams in the scrimmage, as they have been doing in practice. Following Saturday's practices, Claeys and Co. will begin finalizing their first and second teams and which younger players have a chance to play this season. This is when redshirt decisions will start to be formulated.

"At this point (in camp), some kids, like freshmen, start to lose interest because of how long (practice) goes," Claeys said. "They get tired ...You kind of get an idea of the kids that can handle that grind through the season. But we haven't eliminated anybody yet."

• Claeys mentioned that about "80 percent" of the defense's playbook has been installed. The remaining 20 percent is more opponent-based and will be worked in closer to the third/fourth week of camp.

• Offensive tackle Jonah Pirsig was cleared fully for practice on Wednesday, but Kill said he would not play in Saturday's scrimmage.

• Cornerback Derrick Wells and safety Brock Vereen were both out of limited contact jerseys after being limited at times earlier in the week. Wide receiver Devon Wright (shoulder) remains limited. Running back James Gillum (back) was again held out of practice.

• When jokingly asked if he is jealous of  freshman running back Berkley Edwards' top-end speed, sophomore Rodrick William Jr. smiled and shook his head: "No, I'm 245-pounds. That's just never going to happen."

Nate Sandell is a contributor to
Email Nate | @nsandell