The Gophers football team clawed its way through the nonconference season, persisting to a 3-0 record.
The Gophers played FCS program South Dakota State and two Group of Five teams in Fresno State and Georgia Southern, beating them by an average of 4.33 points. And while the Gophers now luxuriate in a bye week — with a Big Ten opener at Purdue on the other end — they won’t be taking the break from a game as a vacation.
Coach P.J. Fleck said following Saturday’s 35-32 victory over Georgia Southern at TCF Bank Stadium that his team will focus on internal reflection in the next few days before turning attention to the conference slate. That’s needed, considering the main reason behind such close calls so far this season has been self-inflicted errors, like turnovers and penalties.
“We now have a body of work of what everybody can do. How people are going to defend us. We’re going to go back to self-scouting ourselves,” Fleck said. “We’re going to go back to fundamentals and details. … What are we doing well? What can we do better? What are the strengths of this football team, as they’ve proven in games, not in practice?”
Gophers senior receiver Tyler Johnson was named Big Ten co-offensive player of the week.
On Saturday, Johnson made 10 catches for 140 yards and three touchdowns, including a career-long 73-yard score. He now holds the school record with a trio of three-touchdown games.
The All-Big Ten first-team selection from last season has accumulated 95 catches for 1,408 yards and 15 touchdowns in the 16 games since the start of the 2018 season. But this was his first weekly honor from the conference.
Sophomore safety Antoine Winfield Jr. won defensive player of the week a week ago for his interception in the end zone at Fresno State that preserved a 38-35 double-overtime victory.
Purdue game time set
The Gophers will open Big Ten play at Purdue at 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 28. The game will be televised on ESPN or ESPN2.