Senior MarQueis Gray returned to practice this week after suffering knee and ankle sprains on his left leg at the end of a run on Sept. 15 against Western Michigan. Max Shortell, who like Siemian is the traditional pocket passer of the pair, is expected to start again in Gray's place despite throwing three interceptions at Iowa. The Gophers listed Gray as the backup on their depth chart. But the powerful, elusive Gray, albeit not at full strength, will probably get his share of snaps.
Wildcats coach Pat Fitzgerald joked this week about Kill's coy answer to the question of how or if he'll use Gray -- "I wish I had a crystal ball," Kill said -- by referencing the pop tune "Call Me Maybe."
The Gophers, as a team, didn't appear ready to play two weeks ago against the rival Hawkeyes. This, then, will be a litmus test of their turnaround in Kill's second year, having already surpassed their victory total in each of the last two seasons.
Lose at home to a usually middle-of-the-pack squad, and 2012 will suddenly look a lot like the same old Gophers. Beat a team that was a few minutes away from having the only undefeated overall record in the Legends Division, and perhaps that impressive win over Syracuse on Sept. 22 was a harbinger for a return to credibility in the conference.
The Wildcats, too, are out to show they can capably bounce back.
"If I were to tell you in August, 'We're going to be in control of our destiny to win the Big Ten championship,' would you be happy?" Fitzgerald said. "That's what I said to the team. So that's where we sit right now. Unfortunately, we let one slip away."
Said senior defensive tackle Brian Arnfelt, a native of Stillwater, Minn., and one of the four team captains: "I think guys are more than ever hungry to get back at it, get back working. The ball didn't bounce our way this last week, but there's a lot of things we need to work on, a lot of things we can get better at."
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