College Football: Gophers waiting until after bowl game to announce coaching hires

MINNEAPOLIS -- Gophers football coach Tracy Claeys said Wednesday he is close to hiring an offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. But an announcement won't come until after Monday's Quick Lane Bowl."Shortly after the bowl, we'll have som...

MINNEAPOLIS - Gophers football coach Tracy Claeys said Wednesday he is close to hiring an offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. But an announcement won’t come until after Monday’s Quick Lane Bowl.
“Shortly after the bowl, we’ll have something to say about it,” Claeys said.
Claeys said he wants the focus on the Gophers (5-7) playing Central Michigan (7-5) in the bowl game at Ford Field in Detroit.
“We’ll get it done around the holidays, but I’m just not going to do anything right now to take away from the team and what we’re doing in the bowl game,” Claeys said.
Claeys alluded to the process already unfolding.
“After you identify someone, there are certain things you’ve got to do at the university (with) background checks and things like that,” Claeys said.
Claeys reiterated he would prefer an offensive coordinator who also serves as quarterbacks coach.
“I do believe most of the time they are good play-callers, but at the same time we have some guys on our staff that have coached the quarterbacks in the past,” Claeys said of running backs coach Pat Poore and tight ends coach Rob Reeves, who will serve as the acting offensive coordinator for the bowl.
“(Those coaches give) us a chance to hire the best person,” Claeys said. “My main thing is that whatever position they coach is they don’t have more than one or two people. So right there I’m telling you it needs to be tailbacks, quarterbacks or the tight ends.”
Claeys said the firing of offensive coordinator-offensive line coach Matt Limegrover on Nov. 29 was, in part, because he had multiple duties. Quarterbacks coach Jim Zebrowski also was let go a day after the regular-season finale, a 31-21 loss to Wisconsin.
Claeys said he likes about 80 percent of the Gophers’ offensive scheme and doesn’t envision making major changes to the style of play.
Leidner to be limited
After quarterback Mitch Leidner plays in the Quick Lane Bowl, he will have foot surgery that will limit his participation in spring practices in March and April.
“It’s a matter of getting him healthy,” Claeys said. “He’s a great competitor, and we’ve limited his practices to make sure that he’s as full speed as he can be. His body feels as good as it has in a long time. I think he will play well.”
Leidner missing spring practices will create opportunity for Demry Croft, Jacques Perra, Conor Rhoda and incoming freshman Seth Green, the former East Ridge quarterback who will enroll in January.

Maye on wait list
Receiver KJ Maye is still hoping to receive an invitation to the Senior Bowl in his hometown of Mobile, Ala.
“I haven’t heard anything yet,” Maye said. “My (high school) coach told me the (Senior Bowl) coordinator said I was on the wait list, so they’re all trying to see who is going to accept the invites, and playing in the bowl games and the playoff games and championship games and things can go different ways.”

Depth chart
Starting defensive tackles Steven Richardson (calf) and Scott Ekpe (undisclosed) were listed as questionable on Wednesday’s injury report.
“They practiced the last couple of days here a little bit,” Claeys said. “They’re getting better.”
Andrew Stelter and Yoshoub Timms were listed as starters.
Also, Jalen Myrick (rib, lung) was listed as a backup cornerback behind Briean Boddy-Calhoun. Myrick hasn’t played since the 28-14 loss to Ohio State on Nov. 7.

Ticket sales
The Gophers had sold 1,400 tickets for the Quick Lane Bowl as of Wednesday evening, according to Chris Werle, a university senior associate athletics director.
Last year, the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit drew an announced crowd of 23,876 for Rutgers-North Carolina. This year, with Central Michigan traveling about 150 miles to Ford Field, the bowl is expecting about 30,000 fans, bowl spokeswoman Ellen Trudell said.

The Pioneer Press is a Forum News Service media partner.

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