Gophers' Gray feels like he's home again
MarQueis Gray wants the ball.
And the Gophers football team likely will benefit from any touches Gray gets when Minnesota plays host to Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 24.
Gray, moved to wide receiver from quarterback after suffering an ankle injury Oct. 13 against Northwestern, was back in the backfield and ran for two touchdowns last weekend against Nebraska.
If Minnesota gets close to the goal line Saturday, he'll be ready.
"I'm all for it," he said before practice Wednesday, Nov. 20. "Going back there, I feel like I'm home again. Running the ball, just giving our team the competitive edge to go in there and put points on the board and help our defense stay off the field, that's what it's all about, and it'll be great if I get that chance again."
Freshman quarterback Philip Nelson says Gray's worth can be magnified as a ball carrier.
"Having MarQueis back there being a big 250-pound dude who can run, maybe he should get a little more rushing attempts," Nelson said. "Obviously that showed to be effective against Nebraska."
Gray is anticipating catching a few passes against Michigan State, and Nelson says he'll be looking for Gray, as well.
"Against Nebraska there was a lot of 2-on-1 coverage on his side," Nelson said. "Him being the single receiver most of the time, he has a corner and a safety over him. It's tough to get him touches over there. That's what we have to be able to do as an offense. We've got to find as many ways to get him touches because he's one of the biggest playmakers we got. We have to be able to get him touches.
Gray began the season not only as the starting quarterback, but as the Gophers' leading rusher. He had 109 yards rushing and two touchdowns against New Hampshire this year, including a 75-yard touchdown run.
A senior, he'll take away many memories of his time at Minnesota: Gray was around when through coaching changes, when coach Jerry Kill suffered seizures, when players and friends were injured, when the Gophers won a few big games and, most recently, when they became bowl eligible this season.
He has mixed emotions.
"Closing the chapter," Gray said. "I was one of those guys who has listened to seniors say 'It comes fast and it goes fast,' and now I'm one of those guys who's going to be saying it to the younger guys.
"I'm just going to take this week as slowly as I can and reflect on how my career went here. Hopefully, we go out with a bang this Saturday."