The message from Gopher football coach Jerry Kill remains the same. Be patient, we are a work in progress. Thursday, the second year coach met with the media to preview the season that begins with two-a-day camp on Saturday.
"We're looking forward to getting our kids in and going through the orientation part of our program," said Kill. "Then our rookies practicing on Friday and then getting started with our whole team on Saturday."
The entire coaching staff returns to a program that has been in flux from a coaching standpoint dating back to the Tim Brewster era.
"We sold a strong vision a year ago kind of where we wanted to go in the program and I don't think we've come off that. Probably the most important thing as a head coach or assistant coaches, we've got the continuity," said Kill. "We didn't loose any of that continuity so the vision stayed the same. We want to continue to move our program forward. Our kids have worked hard to this point and now we have to take it to two a day camp and see where we go from there."
About the only thing set in stone is that senior MarQueis Gray will be under center as the starting quarterback. This will be the first time Gray and his teammates have gone into a second year with the same offense. Gray improved as the season progressed last year after making the transition from wide receiver to full time signal caller in his junior year.
"From the first few weeks you could tell that I was getting back in the shape of being a quarterback. I haven't played a full year of quarterback since my junior year in high school and it shows in the tape," said Gray. "As the weeks went past, I got better and better and more confident."
When asked what position group had the most question marks, Kill was quick to say his receiving corps. Gray is on the same page with his head coach but also gave credit to a couple of incoming freshman that could potentially play big this fall.
"Andre McDonald and Jamel Harbison have been doing a great job this off-season coming straight out of high school," said Gray. "Hopefully they'll be able to get this playbook down and be ready to go this season."
With only 10 seniors on the roster, the Gophers are a young but focused and hungry group. A win over Illinois to end the season may have jump started a program that hasn't had a winning Big 10 season since 2003.
"We need to move the program forward and continue to get better. As long as we continue to make strides to get better and continue to build a foundation for the program and move it forward that's what we're here to do," said Kill. "There isn't a quick fix. It takes time, but I'm cautiously optimistic we're certainly looking forward to the season."