Andy Greder / St. Paul Pioneer Press
MINNEAPOLIS — Backup quarterback Demry Croft will be away from the Gophers football team for Saturday's game against Middle Tennessee State at TCF Bank Stadium, coach P.J. Fleck said Tuesday, Sept. 12. "He is dealing with some personal issues that are way, way more important than football, so it's my job as a head football coach to get him what he needs," Fleck said. "We are going to help him any way we can. I'm not going to get into that, in respect to his privacy and his personal life."
MINNEAPOLIS — Middle Tennessee State wants to spoil a pair of Gophers seasons in 2017. After the 12th-seeded Blue Raiders toppled No. 5 Minnesota in the first round of the NCAA men's basketball tournament in March, the Conference USA program again wants to take down the Big Ten school in a nonconference football game at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium.
MINNEAPOLIS — Gophers coach P.J. Fleck named Conor Rhoda the starting quarterback after his performance in Saturday night's 48-14 victory over Oregon State. "He's earned that," Fleck said Monday, Sept. 11. Rhoda, a senior from Cretin-Derham Hall, shared snaps with Demry Croft, a sophomore from Rockford, Ill., in the first six quarters of the season. But after Croft fumbled and lost the ball after not falling on it before halftime of Saturday's game in Corvallis, Ore., Rhoda took the majority of the reps in the second half against the Beavers.
CORVALLIS, Ore.—Minnesota Gophers football coach P.J. Fleck has been prodding and clamoring for either quarterback Conor Rhoda or Demry Croft to assert ownership of the team since spring practices began in March. While the Gophers relied heavily on the run in their 48-14 win over Oregon State on Saturday night, Sept. 9—58 rushes to eight passes—one quarterback took the reins in Reser Stadium. "(Saturday) was the first time I watched Conor Rhoda control a football team," Fleck said.
CORVALLIS, Ore.—The Minnesota defense forced and recovered three Oregon State fumbles, leading to 17 points in a 48-14 romp over the Beavers late Saturday night, Sept. 9, at Reser Stadium. As the Gophers improved to 2-0 and provided coach P.J. Fleck his first road win, defenders Duke McGhee, Thomas Barber and Gary Moore forced the fumbles, and Jon Celestin, Kamal Martin and Kiondre Thomas recovered them. After being even on turnover margin in the narrow win over Buffalo, the Gophers surged ahead with a plus-two in the blowout of the Beavers (1-2).
CORVALLIS, Ore.—A pair of hardcover copies of an influential book on P.J. Fleck's coaching philosophy rested on a high shelf in the upstairs Purple Room in the enormous Powell's City of Books in downtown Portland. As Minnesota played Oregon State about 85 miles to the south on Saturday night, Sept. 9 (the game was not complete at presstime), the book "It's Your Ship" has insights and parallels to the culture Fleck's instilling in the Gophers during his debut season.
MINNEAPOLIS—One of Minneapolis North coach Charles Adams' favorite memories of Tyler Johnson is commemorated in a photo in his school office. It doesn't depict Johnson scoring one of his many dazzling touchdowns at North, nor does it portray the celebration after a big win during the Polars' rise from two-win team in 2012 to consecutive state tournament appearances in 2014-15.
MINNEAPOLIS — Tennessee players dunked footballs into a tailored plastic garbage can after takeaways in their double-overtime win over Georgia Tech on Monday, while Miami (Fla.) started a new tradition by presenting players who force turnovers with a thick, 10-karat gold chain on the sideline in their victory over Bethune-Cookman on Saturday.
MINNEAPOLIS — After missing the Holiday Bowl because of a suspension, Gophers safety Antoine Winfield Jr. relished his return to the field during Minnesota's season-opening victory last week. "I'm enjoying it so much more now," Winfield said Wednesday, Sept. 6. "I just love being out there with my brothers and just being able to compete, especially here for Minnesota."
MINNEAPOLIS — When the Gophers travel to play Oregon State of the Pac-12 on Saturday, Sept. 9, it will be their last nonconference football game against a top-tier program until 2020. For the time being, an upcoming slate against programs mostly from mid-major conferences seems just fine with first-year coach P.J. Fleck, who has yet to put his stamp on future Minnesota schedules.