MINNEAPOLIS A year ago, the Gophers began spring football practice to a very clear tune: This is Jerry Kill's team.
It was the beginning of the coach's second season in the Twin Cities. He'd recruited a class of players by that point, gotten that first 3-9 season and all the initial kinks of being new and turning a program around out of his system. And it was Jerry Kill's team, no question. Players knew what to expect, and coaches in turn, and there was a sense that things would get better.
They did. Minnesota won six games and made it to the Meineke Car Care Bowl, which resulted in a loss but a definite sense that the team was making a step toward the next level.
This season begins on a very different note, although it, too, is one of ownership: This is Philip Nelson's team.
Nelson, a sophomore next fall, assumed the team's quarterbacking duties against Wisconsin on Oct. 20, when he burned his redshirt. The freshman played in seven games, winning two, and he goes into the 2013...