MINNEAPOLIS -- The Gophers football team — from a physical-size standpoint — looks more impressive this preseason camp. That’s the shared point of view from Minnesota athletics director Mark Coyle and former tight end Brandon Lingen, who watched Friday’s lighter practice at the Larson Football Performance Center.
There are many examples of new, or newer, Minnesota players who look bigger and stronger than their predecessors across at least the past five years:
Six-foot-2 and 205-pound Tyler Nubin has moved from cornerback to safety, as the coaching staff had planned for him this camp. Coaches are searching to find the best fit for the 2019 class’ highest-rated recruit, who seems to have a wingspan wider than his height.
Six-foot-4 and 315-pound Micah Dew-Treadway will be counted on at nose tackle; 6-8 and 270-pound tight end Brevyn Spann-Ford looks like a matchup problem waiting to happen; and 6-6, 275-pound defensive end Esezi Otomewo has the attributes to build on a 14-tackle, one-sack freshman year.
Gophers offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca said he has never had a bigger offensive line in his 27-year career.
That is headlined by 6-9, 400-pound right tackle Daniel Faalele as well as 6-5, 345-pound Curtis Dunlap and 6-6, 325-pound left guard Blaise Andries.
Bateman, Green absent
Two key offensive players had excused absences from Friday’s practice, head coach P.J. Fleck said.
Receiver Rashod Bateman had a death in the family and returned to his home in Georgia. Wildcat quarterback Seth Green attended at a family wedding.
“I’ve missed a lot of things in my life, and I don’t want want our players to miss things,” Fleck said.
Bateman and Green are expected back in camp Sunday.
ESPN’s College Gameday was in Dinkytown on Friday to shoot a feature on U placeholder Casey O’Brien for its pregame show later this season. … Backup offensive tackle Kyle Sassack and JJ Guedet have returned to practice after being limited earlier in camp. … The Gophers continue to be cautious with star rush end Carter Coughlin, who Fleck said was dealing with tightness. … Instead of senior Thomas Barber at middle linebacker, redshirt freshman Braelen Oliver took reps with the first team defense Friday. … The Gophers have two new trophy cases front and center in the Hall of Fame area of their facility — one for Paul Bunyan’s Axe and the other for the Quick Lane Bowl’s silver hardware.