Good afternoon, football fans. I’m checking in from the TCF Bank Stadium press box on this overcast, muggy afternoon. Looking forward to a good nonconference matchup with Middle Tennessee’s quick, explosive offense challenging the Gophers’ stingy defense.
One area of intrigue today is the health of Middle Tennessee quarterback Brent Stockstill, who injured his left (throwing) shoulder last week in the win over Syracuse. He has been listed as questionable this week, although Gophers coach P.J. Fleck, raving about Stockstill’s toughness, expects him to play.
Blue Raiders coach Rick Stockstill, Brent’s father, told the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal on Wednesday that it could be a game-day decision whether the QB plays.
If Stockstill can’t play, sophomore John Urzua is listed as the backup. But another option is versatile wide receiver Richie James. Last year against Florida Atlantic, James went under center and rushed 22 times for 207 yards and three touchdowns in the Blue Raiders’ 77-56 victory.
For the Gophers, will see Conor Rhoda make his first start with the No. 1 quarterback job as his alone. He’ll try to build off a 7-for-8 passing effort against Oregon State last week.
Also, with Demry Croft away from the team, Seth Green becomes the backup QB.
Some other odds and ends:
** The Gophers will try to improve to 3-0 all-time against Middle Tennessee. And they’ll try to stretch their nonconference winning streak to seven games.
** Gophers coach P.J. Fleck is 22-3 in his past 25 games. Entering Saturday, only Alabama’s Nick Saban (24-1) and Clemson’s Dabo Swinney (23-2) were better in their past 25. San Diego State’s Rocky Long also was 23-2.
** Fleck was seeking a 3-0 start as Gophers coach. The last Minnesota coach to do that was Murray Warmath, who won his first four games in his debut season of 1954.
** The Gophers entered Saturday with a 6-0 record with running backs Rodney Smith and Shannon Brooks score in the same game.
** Smith entered Saturday with 19 career rushing touchdowns, tied for 16th in school history. He needed two to move into the top 10. Minnesota’s career leader in rushing TDs is Darrell Thompson with 40.