The four Gophers football players who were suspended for a violation of team rules before the Sept. 10 Indiana State game had yet to be reinstated for Tuesday’s practice.
But when asked if he had definitely ruled them out for this Saturday’s game against Colorado State, coach Tracy Claeys said, “I don’t know. Violation of team policy, and playing day-by-day.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, the Minneapolis Police Department still listed the four players — KiAnte Hardin, Ray Buford, Dior Johnson and Tamarion Johnson — as part of an “active investigation.” No arrests have been made as part of the case.
The police would need to clear the players, and so would athletic director Mark Coyle, before they’d be allowed to even practice with the team.
Hardin is a starting cornerback, and Buford is the team’s top backup cornerback option. With those two out, sophomore Antonio Shenault started at cornerback against Indiana State, opposite Jalen Myrick.
On this week’s depth chart, the Gophers list Shenault and Myrick as the starting cornerbacks, with true freshman Coney Durr and junior college transfer Eric Amoako as the second stringers.
“We’re good to go there,” Claeys said. “We’ve just got to get some experience. In the secondary when you’re young and playing, there’s some hard lessons to learn. That’s what the nonconference is for.”
As the Gophers address their own issues with false start penalties — three on the first drive alone against Indiana State — they also want the officials to monitor the defense more closely.
Defenses aren’t allowed to call out cadences, or clap, or do things that can trick offensive players into thinking the play has begun. The Gophers felt that was an issue against Indiana State.
“We put a lot of emphasis on it in Sunday’s practice,” quarterback Mitch Leidner said. “We had a whole period of the scout team just clapping and saying our cadence the entire time.”
Officials usually will warn a defense to stop. The Gophers received a warning for clapping on one key play at Nebraska two years ago, Claeys told KFAN (100.3-FM). So the Gophers have been in touch with the Big Ten office.
But Claeys and offensive coordinator Jay Johnson said it still comes back to their own players’ pre-snap focus.
“I also think sometimes that comes down to the quarterbacks a little bit,” Johnson said. “They need to understand what issues we may be having and how they could manage that because I give them that freedom to handle those settings.”
Cautious with Brooks
Running back Shannon Brooks, who broke a bone in his right foot five weeks ago and had a pin inserted to fix it, has been full-go in practice since Sunday.
“He’s been cleared, but we’ll see how he gets through practice, too,” Claeys said. “If he’s sore, we won’t take a chance on him this week [against Colorado State].”