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Minnesota to open QB race this spring

Tim Brewster's denial of being a candidate for Kansas' head-coaching vacancy was the top news item coming from Minnesota's camp Wednesday, but another development caught my eye.

Golden Gophers backup quarterback MarQueis Gray will play both quarterback and wide receiver in the Insight Bowl against Iowa State, which seems like a smart decision given his size and athleticism, not to mention the continued absence of star wideout Eric Decker. But when spring practice rolls around, Gray will be very much in the mix at quarterback, as the starting job will be up for grabs.

Minnesota will have an open competition at quarterback despite boasting the Big Ten's most experienced signal-caller in junior Adam Weber. Weber, who is completing his third season as the starter and is the school's career passing leader, will have the chance to keep his job, but both Gray and Moses Alipate will be in the mix.

Brewster has been extremely loyal to Weber, calling him the clear-cut starter even after Gray turned in a good spring this year. But Weber struggled with the Gophers' new pro-style offense this fall, throwing more interceptions (14) than touchdowns (12) and completing just 51.6 percent of his passes. Weber performed much better in the spread offense under former coordinator Mike Dunbar. Last year, he led the Big Ten in completion percentage (62.2) and passed for 2,761 yards with 15 touchdowns and only eight interceptions.

Whether the pro-style system truly fits Weber -- or Gray, for that matter -- is certainly debatable. Some Gophers fans I've heard from point out that Alipate might be the best suited for the system, and now we'll find out.

Minnesota really had no choice here but to open things up. And Weber, a class act through and through, is handling things in stride.

"I believe every position -- especially the quarterback position -- should be open [for competition] at all times," Weber told local reporters Wednesday. "If you have a starter who, in practice and in games, is not producing, not helping the team win, you have to look at all your options. Every day, every meeting, every position has to bring it."

It should be an interesting spring in Minneapolis.