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Weber looks like favorite to start at QB for Gophers

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sports Willmar, 56201
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

By Dave Campbell, AP Sports Writer

MINNEAPOLIS -- One of Minnesota head coach Tim Brewster's most frequently mentioned goals for his Gophers is legitimate competition for playing time at each position.

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With 11 starters lost from last season, including nine on defense, Brewster has had exactly that this spring -- and it should continue into the fall.

But the competition won't continue at quarterback. Brewster said after Saturday's intrasquad scrimmage he'll pick a starter within the next week.

Adam Weber sure looks like the front runner. He finished the spring game 8 for 20 for 144 yards, but Brewster gave the senior plenty of praise.

Sophomore MarQueis Gray, who gave Weber the first true challenge for playing time of his college career, finished 4 for 7 for 66 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

"I thought Adam Weber looked extremely comfortable out on the football field," Brewster said. "His fifth-year experience showed up today, and some of MarQueis's inexperience showed up today."

After redshirting his first year, Weber took over as a freshman in 2007, Brewster's first season, and has started every game since. His production has declined, due to a variety of factors, and he has had to win back the job.

Now working with his fourth offensive coordinator, Jeff Horton, Weber said he's comfortable again. And he said he has relished being pushed by Gray.

"I think we bring out the best in each other," Weber said. "The first team is only going to be better with either one of us in there."

Horton said he made a point to keep Weber's confidence up since being hired over the offseason. He actually tried to recruit Weber five years ago while he was at Wisconsin.

"Don't overanalyze anything," Horton said of his best advice to Weber. "Don't try to do too much."

Brewster was pleased by the way the Gophers ran the ball, too, starting with 12 carries for 51 yards and a touchdown for DeLeon Eskridge, who was with the first team. Brewster declined to name him the starter.

"That'll get established as we keep going," Brewster said.

As with the other positions.

"These guys were out there competing, and nobody feels comfortable," the coach said. "There were a lot of anxious guys in the locker room."

Through a comprehensive set of scoring guidelines, the defense beat the offense 48-26 over four quarters of 12 minutes of running time each.

Other standouts were linebackers Mike Rallis, Spencer Reeves and Sam Maresh. Those positions might be the most up for grabs on the team, with productive starters Lee Campbell, Simoni Lawrence and Nate Triplett all departed. Gary Tinsley, an expected starter, was dismissed from practice this week with a pending problem off the field. Tinsley was arrested on suspicion of fleeing police and driving while intoxicated.

Another expected starter, safety Kyle Theret, is currently suspended for an alcohol-related arrest and did not play Saturday. Fellow starting safety Kim Royston was out with a broken leg, and backup wide receiver Bryant Allen sat with an ankle injury. Also, starting offensive lineman Matt Carufel did not participate because of shoulder surgery.

Perhaps the best development for the Gophers football program on Saturday was the news that Triplett was taken by the Minnesota Vikings in the fifth round of the NFL draft. Brewster said the locker room roared in approval before the game.

"You talk about a dream come true," Brewster said of Triplett, a star at Delano High School.

Wide receiver Eric Decker was also drafted, taken on Friday by the Denver Broncos in the third round.

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