Andy Greder / St. Paul Pioneer Press
MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota United's Christian Ramirez and Brent Kallman had some of their best home-game memories when they weren't playing. On a warm Aug. 5, Ramirez had a hood covering his head to try and remain inconspicuous while sitting among fans when the Loons played the Seattle Sounders at TCF Bank Stadium. Out with a hamstring injury, the California native and Minnesota's leading scorer watched as the energy from the diehard supporters groups — the Dark Clouds and True North Elite — built behind the east goal during a 4-0 rout by the defending MLS Cup champions.
MINNEAPOLIS — Former Chicago Bears defensive tackle William Perry will forever be known as the "Fridge." Current Gophers defensive tackle Steven Richardson is earning a name as the "Stove." These monikers based on durable metal appliances fit. Perry, a star on the 1985 Super Bowl champions, was 6 feet 2 and 330 pounds. Richardson, a Minnesota senior leader and NFL prospect, is 292 pounds while generously listed at 6 feet tall.
MINNEAPOLIS – Demry Croft has returned from a three-game suspension, but coach P.J. Fleck said Tuesday, Oct. 3, that the sophomore reserve quarterback still has a lot to prove. Croft, who battled Conor Rhoda for the starting job for the first two weeks of the season, was suspended for undisclosed reasons after a 48-14 win at Oregon State on Sept. 9. Rhoda has started the past two games, with Seth Green elevated to backup.
MINNEAPOLIS — The beginning of the Gophers' Big Ten schedule this season appeared to be front-loaded with winnable games considered necessary to reach bowl eligibility. The foes — Maryland, Purdue, Michigan State and Illinois — went a combined 15-34 in 2016, with expectations this season to be middling at best. The back half of the slate looked more daunting with Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, Northwestern and Wisconsin.
MINNEAPOLIS—When asked about the absence of starting safety Duke McGhee on Saturday, Sept. 30, Minnesota head football coach P.J. Fleck repeated a statement he's used when some other players have been gone this season. "Again, if you don't do the right things, you are not going to play," Fleck said after Minnesota's 31-24 loss to Maryland at TCF Bank Stadium. "...I'm not going to sacrifice a win on the field with depth, just so our guys say, 'Well, we don't have to do the right things, and I can still play.' That's not true."
MINNEAPOLIS—Running back Ty Johnson's 34-yard touchdown run with 1:10 remaining gave Maryland a 31-24 victory over Minnesota on Saturday, Sept. 23, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Third-string quarterback Max Bortenschlager, pressed into action after Tyrrell Pigrome and Kasim Hill sustained season-ending ACL injuries earlier this year, finished 18 of 28 for 154 yards and two touchdown passes for the Terrapins (3-1, 1-0 Big Ten). Johnson gained 130 yards on 18 carries.
MINNEAPOLIS—Don't scoff at Minnesota United's playoff hopes. Minuscule on paper, they're meaningful on other levels. Although an index from fivethirtyeight.com has the Loons pegged at a less than 1 percent chance to make Major League Soccer's playoffs, coach Adrian Heath said there is "everything" to play for in the final five games.
MINNEAPOLIS — After Mike Ditka and before Darrelle Revis helped solidify Pennsylvania steel town Aliquippa as a football factory, Tom Sakal was a local kid looking for someplace to play linebacker in college. On Sakal's visit to Minnesota, Gophers coach Murray Warmath sat him in the film room on a Saturday morning to watch the 1960 Iowa game. Sakal's jaw dropped while watching Tom Brown destroy the Hawkeyes, part of a season that netted him the Outland Trophy and ended in the Rose Bowl.
MINNEAPOLIS — P.J. Fleck wants one standout quarterback in each recruiting class. For 2019, the Gophers coach and his staff have focused in on two of the highest-rated quarterbacks in the nation, and the scholarship offer is open to one of them on a first-come, first-serve basis. Hank Bachmeier, of Murrieta (Calif.) Valley, is the fourth-rated pro-style QB and 140th-best player in the nation, according to 247sports.com's composite lists. He plans to visit Minnesota for the Big Ten opener against Maryland on Saturday, Sept. 23, at TCF Bank Stadium.
MINNEAPOLIS — When Conor Rhoda made his first collegiate start last season against Maryland, the Gophers quarterback hadn't really been hit since his senior year at Cretin-Derham Hall in 2012. After being a backup and scout-team member, the Eagan native was looking to feel like a real football player again. Now with three more starts this season, Rhoda feels like he's grown in many areas heading into Saturday's Big Ten opener against Maryland.