Gophers football coach P.J. Fleck remained noncommittal Tuesday about his quarterback for Saturday’s homecoming game, and the depth chart lists Conor Rhoda “or” Demry Croft as the starter.
Croft positioned himself to take over the job by passing for three fourth-quarter touchdowns in last week’s 30-27 loss to Michigan State after replacing an ineffective Rhoda in the second quarter. Fleck, however, will wait to reveal his decision.
“I want to continue to watch them perform,’’ he said, “and hopefully by [Wednesday] I’m narrowing it down closer.’’
Fleck complimented Croft, who saw his first action against Michigan State after serving a two-game disciplinary suspension.
“He played really sharp,’’ Fleck said. “He did great job of keeping the play alive.’’
But Fleck also credited Rhoda, saying, “If we don’t have Conor Rhoda the first three games, we don’t win the first three games.’’
Whichever quarterback starts, Fleck wants both available.
“We’ll possibly continue to play both of them at some point throughout the year, so we have to get them both ready,’’ he said. “They know that, and they’re handling it in a very mature way.’’
Illinois coach Lovie Smith said Monday that he expects to see Croft.
“They’ve played a couple different quarterbacks and ended up with the guy that we’ll probably see, which is a little bit different than the starter they’ve been playing most of the year,’’ Smith said.
Focus not on bowl
At 3-3, the Gophers need three more victories to gain bowl eligibility. But that’s not something Fleck is worried about now.
“I don’t mention it until you’re bowl-eligible. And then I probably mention it for 10 seconds and you move on,’’ he said. “If that’s going to be our only focus here, that’s not why I came. I came for something way bigger.’’
Mum on injuries
Fleck wouldn’t say if any injured players would return for the Illinois game. Tight end Brandon Lingen (ankle) and guard Vincent Calhoun (leg) left the Michigan State game but did not return.
“I’m not going to get into a lot of injuries and depth chart [discussion] much longer throughout the entire year because I’ve got to make some decisions,” Fleck said. “I’ve got to be able to be creative.’’
Depth chart notes
• With injuries hitting the secondary hard, Fleck said true freshman cornerback Justus Harris “is playing for sure’’ against Illinois.
• Redshirt freshman Mark Williams is listed at starter at wide receiver ahead of the injured Phillip Howard. Williams caught two passes for 43 yards against Michigan State.