Good afternoon from Iowa City, where it’s 38 degrees with a wind of about 15 mph. The forecast calls for the wind to decrease to 6 mph by 6 p.m. and the temperatures to drop a few degrees.
I can tell by the feistiness of some of the questions that it’s a rivalry week, with the Gophers and Iowa knocking heads for the right to hoist the Floyd of Rosedale trophy. I was even asked about a certain porcine odor, but I’ll leave that one alone. With that said, here are some of the best questions sent to me today on Twitter:
Q: What do you expect the carry split/philosophy to be between the 3 rbs? -- @steelydwill
A: I think this all depends on the health of all three running backs. Shannon Brooks didn’t play last week, and Rodney Smith was injured late in the game, but coach P.J. Fleck said earlier in the week that both would play. With Kobe McCrary coming off a monster game, I would expect that Fleck, offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca and running backs coach Kenni Burns would go with whichever back is working best. I’d expect to see a Smith/McCrary combo most of the time, with Brooks being worked in. McCrary brings that physical style, and I could see him being featured the most in a grind-it-out game.
Q: What is the likelihood of Winfield getting a medical RS approved? – homer_mn
A: Fleck is confident that Winfield, who reinjured his left hamstring during the first quarter of the Sept. 30 game against Maryland, would qualify for a medical redshirt if they chose that route. The key word there is “if.’’ NCAA rules say that a player can apply for medical hardship waiver and gain an extra year of eligibility if the season-ending injury occurs before the second half of the season, and the player hasn’t played in more than three games or 30 percent of the schedule, whichever is greater. Winfield has played in 13 quarters, or 27 percent of the Gophers’ 48 quarters this season. So, he is under that 30 percent mark. … What’s interesting is that the Gophers have continued to list Winfield as a starter on the weekly two-deep lineups, which are subject to change. I’d say that’s a case of subterfuge. Fleck’s philosophy of “don’t sacrifice something you want now for something you really want later’’ would seem to apply to Winfield.
Q: Any more redshirts pulled? -- @JackGinther
A: That will depend on injuries. The Gophers have been successful in keeping the redshirt on freshman offensive tackle Blaise Andries, who is listed as backup at both left and right tackle. That means he could be the next to lose a redshirt if there are injuries at that position. The next candidate on defense to lose a redshirt could be cornerback Rey Estes, with that position very thin.
Q: What’s @thomas_barber41’s ceiling? Instinctive, aggressive, getting better every week. Fun to watch. -- @MattHigg51
A: I’d say that Thomas Barber could end being just like the guy he’s learning from, Jonathan Celestin, and maybe even better. Barber is developing into a very solid linebacker, and he has double figures in tackles in the Gophers’ four Big Ten games. Celestin raves about Barber’s growth in the mental side of the game, such as film study. He’s got a great future ahead of him.
Q: If Demry struggles again is it back to Rhoda? Or will we see a new QB? -- @seid0056
A: I’d say it’s doubtful the Gophers would turn to a third QB, barring their top two getting hurt. But you never know. P.J. could surprise us.
Q: Can we expect any offensive trickery? 3 RB’s, misdirection, reverses, etc. I don’t recall a trick play yet this season. -- @kimballhal
A: The Gophers have kept the offense quite vanilla this season, in large part because Fleck says that’s what the players can handle. But it is tough to keep a defense honest if it only has to account for a few select plays. With three solid running backs expected to be available, maybe there are some options to open things up today.
Q: Which Gophers player will get to Floyd first? -- @VonGopher
A: If that happens, the most fitting would be senior linebacker Jonathan Celestin and senior defensive tackle Steven Richardson. Those two have been impressive all year.