Andy Greder / St. Paul Pioneer Press
MINNEAPOLIS — It's necessary — cathartic, even — to turn the page to next year after the Gophers were outscored by a combined 70-0 against Northwestern and Wisconsin to squash this season. After the Saturday, Nov. 25, 31-0 loss to the No. 5 Badgers, Minnesota (5-7, 2-7 Big Ten) missed out on a bowl game for the first time since 2012.
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—P.J. Fleck was in peak form with one comment about the stellar performances his defense has produced in the Gophers' 3-0 run through nonconference play. The Minnesota coach first praised them for their pursuit to the ball during the third consecutive second-half shutout in the 34-3 win Saturday, Sept. 16, over Middle Tennessee State at TCF Bank Stadium.
MINNEAPOLIS—Minnesota running backs Rodney Smith and Kobe McCrary each rushed for 107 yards, which was more than the 46 rushing yards Middle Tennessee State gained as a team, in the Golden Gophers' 34-3 win Saturday, Sept. 16, at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Kobe McCrary scored three touchdowns for the Golden Gophers, who outgained Middle Tennessee State 221-46 on the ground.
MINNEAPOLIS — Throughout preseason camp and the opening two games of the season, the competition between quarterbacks Conor Rhoda and Demry Croft was perhaps the top storyline of coach P.J. Fleck's first season as coach. But with Rhoda named the outright starter Monday, Sept.11, and Fleck announcing Tuesday, Sept. 12, that Croft will be away from the team — possibly for the foreseeable future — Seth Green enters the picture as Rhoda's backup for Saturday afternoon's game against Middle Tennessee State at TCF Bank Stadium.
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).
MINNEAPOLIS — It was Gophers' coach P.J. Fleck's decision to hold defensive end Tai'yon Devers out of last Thursday's 17-7 season-opening victory over Buffalo at TCF Bank Stadium, the coach said Monday, Sept. 4. Devers, who made a splash with a pair of strip sacks in last year's opener, did not suit up to play versus the Bulls but, was on the sideline. "I just held him out," Fleck said Monday. "He's not ready yet. He's got some things that I feel like — we are going to wait another week and bring him back after that."
MINNEAPOLIS—Minnesota United will be without two of its top three goalkeepers for Saturday's game against the Colorado Rapids, the latest in an already long list of defensive issues for the Loons. Two games into its inaugural Major League Soccer season, United (0-2-0) is minus-9 in goal differential. Starting goalkeeper John Alvbage is out after suffering a gash on his left knee in a 6-1 loss to Atlanta United on Sunday, while third-string goalkeeper Patrick McLain is in the concussion protocol.
ST. PAUL — Sports Illustrated senior soccer writer Grant Wahl joked that he was sitting at home in his boxer shorts when he riled up Minnesota United supporters in October. Wahl, an SI writer since 1996, was asked by a reader to place an over/under projection on how many wins the Loons will have during their inaugural Major League Soccer season, which starts Friday at Portland. "I gave five, which is probably harsh, and I understand why fans of the team might not be happy with that," Wahl told the Pioneer Press on Wednesday.