Andy Greder / St. Paul Pioneer Press
MINNEAPOLIS—While Minnesota head football coach P.J. Fleck didn't name Demry Croft the starting quarterback after his resurgent fourth-quarter performance against Michigan State on Saturday, Oc.t 14, Croft has become the clear-cut choice to make his first collegiate start next week against Illinois. That is, if the redshirt sophomore from Rockford, Ill., continues to rebuild the trust he damaged during a three-week, two-game suspension for undisclosed reasons.
MINNEAPOLIS — P.J. Fleck looks at the blueprints of former Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez and longtime Kansas State coach Bill Snyder as he begins building the Gophers in his image. While Alvarez and Snyder took their programs to some of the heights of college football, neither had immediate success. In Snyder's debut season in 1989, K-State went 0-10. In Alvarez's first season in 1990, the Badgers were 1-10 and 0-8 in the Big Ten.
MINNEAPOLIS — Brennan Armstrong accounted for nine touchdowns in a game at Shelby High School in 2014, yet the 14-year-old freshman quarterback didn't get much publicity for his performance. The local newspapers in north central Ohio and national outlets such as Deadspin, Fox Sports and the Sporting News all focused their coverage on the exorbitant final score — Tiffin Columbian 83, Shelby 82 — and how one of Armstrong's opposing running backs scored 10 touchdowns.
MINNEAPOLIS — Tom Sakal fought back tears when speaking to the Gophers football team last Saturday, Sept. 30. "I'm not an emotional person, but it really hit the core of me," said Sakal, the sole captain of the last Minnesota team to win a share of the Big Ten championship in 1967. Sakal addressed the Gophers as part of the team's Captains Breakfast, the first invitation he had received from the program in the 50 years since he played linebacker for co-conference champions.
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.