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Randy Johnson

Reporter | Gophers football
Phone: 612-673-7664
Location: Minneapolis
Other languages: None

Randy Johnson is a sports reporter for the Star Tribune. He is the beat writer for University of Minnesota football and hockey, along with other college sports. Football and hockey at all levels are his main areas of interest.

Johnson also spent 17 years as sports copy editor/layout editor at the Star Tribune after five years in a similar role with the St. Paul Pioneer Press. From 1991 through 1995, he was assistant sports editor and Penn State football beat writer for the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pa.
Recent content from Randy Johnson
Second-year coach P.J. Fleck has a chance to lead the Gophers to a winning season in their return to the Quick Lane Bowl.

'It's the next right step.' Gophers face Georgia Tech in Quick Lane Bowl

The Gophers will face a unique challenge on defense and a coach who will be on the sidelines for the final time as their reward for making a bowl game in P.J. Fleck's second season.
TaQuon Marshall, one of the signal-callers in Georgia Tech’s two-quarterback attack, has accounted for more than 1,700 yards of offense and 11 touch

About Georgia Tech, Gophers' opponent in Quick Lane Bowl

The Yellow Jackets won their opener before losing three games in a row. But they won six of their next seven games to secure bowl eligibility before losing their regular-season finale, 45-21 at Georgia.
After 15 years the Gophers took back the Paul Bunyan Axe after they defeated Wisconsin 37-15 at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.

The Axe is back: Gophers end long losing streak to Wisconsin

With Saturday's 37-15 victory by the bowl-eligible Gophers, Paul Bunyan's Axe is going back to Minneapolis for the first time since 2003.

Rossi earns job as Gophers full-time defensive coordinator

Joe Rossi was named interim defensive coordinator after Fleck fired Robb Smith following the 55-31 loss at Illinois on Nov. 3, and the defense responded.
“It’s not very difficult to tell our players a little bit about this week and what it means,” Gophers coach P.J. Fleck said.

Rivalry game vs. Wisconsin more about opportunity for Gophers

Saturday's game might be Minnesota's only chance for nearly a full calendar year to impress that noncommittal bloc known as casual fans in this sports-saturated market.
The Gophers football team lifted up Paul Bunyan's Axe in 2003 after Rhys Lloyd's field goal.

Tradition worth breaking? Calling hero from last time U won the Axe

It's Gophers-Wisconsin week, and that means Rhys Lloyd is getting an annual chance to reminisce about a career kicking highlight.
Coach P. J. Fleck laments that the Gophers have a minus-9 turnover margin, which ranks 13th among the 14 Big Ten teams, entering Saturday’s regular-

Fleck says Gophers need to reduce turnovers

Minnesota is minus-11 in turnovers in Big Ten play, heading into the regular-season finale at Wisconsin.
Jonathan Taylor ran in for a touchdown vs. Rutgers, one of seven TDs the Wisconsin star has scored in three games this month.

Gophers seek a way to slow down Badgers' Taylor

The Wisconsin star running back is nearing 2,000 rushing yards.
Minnesota linebacker Kamal Martin interfered with a a pass intended for Northwestern's wide receiver Trey Pugh in the end zone during the first quarte

Northwestern finds offense late, leaves Gophers tough road to bowl bid

The Gophers couldn't get that sixth win Saturday because Big Ten West Division-champion Northwestern played mostly error-free football and owned the key situations in a 24-14 victory.
Blake Cashman celebrated after he sacked Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson

Gophers' senior Cashman makes 20 tackles in final home game

"We're going to miss that young man one day,'' Gophers coach P.J. Fleck said. "He's an incredible player.''
The Gophers last went to a bowl game in 2016, when Minnesota wide receiver Drew Wolitarsky held the Holiday Bowl trophy alongside the team after they

Can the Gophers get to a bowl? If so, where will they go?

College Football Insider: Big Ten bowl guesses start at the top with two national playoff possibilities. The Gophers need to win one of their last two games to get to a postseason game.
Northwestern running back Isaiah Bowser runs up field during a 34-yard touchdown run in the second half vs. Iowa.

Northwestern to take 'championship approach' vs. Gophers

Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said even though the Wildcats are assured a spot in the Big Ten title game the final two weeks of the regular season will be played with a "championship approach."
Gophers linebacker Blake Cashman recovered a fumble and ran 40 yards for a touchdown against Purdue at TCF Bank Stadium last Saturday. Cashman also ha

Will it continue? Linebackers were energy source in U's upset of Purdue

New defensive coordinator Joe Rossi said the team's linebackers were big in beating the Boilermakers. One more victory will make the Gophers eligible for a bowl game.
Gophers wide receiver Phillip Howard, who played several positions in high school, might be tried at cornerback.

Gophers wide receiver Howard might get a chance at cornerback

At Cooper High School, Phillip Howard was a jack of all trades, playing quarterback, receiver, defensive back and return specialist.
Gophers head coach P.J. Fleck

U cuts ties with top football recruit after domestic battery charge

Once the top-rated player in the Gophers football recruiting class of 2019, Jason Bargy faces charges in Illinois and is no longer in Minnesota's plans.
Linebacker Blake Cashman put some distance between the Gophers and Purdue on Saturday when he returned a fumble 40 yards for a touchdown.

U's defensive revival: 'We tackled well, we rallied to the ball'

P.J. Fleck had a thought about why the Gophers defense rebounded in his team's lopsided victory over Purdue. And was Blake Cashman robbed of an honor he deserved?
Minnesota linebacker Blake Cashman celebrated after sacking Purdue quarterback David Blough during the second quarter Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium.

New voice, new result: Gophers shine on defense to crush Purdue

In Joe Rossi's first game as interim defensive coordinator, the Gophers limited the Boilermakers to just 233 total yards and won 41-10 at cold, snowy TCF Bank Stadium.
Gophers running back Mohamed Ibrahim ran with the ball despite pressure from Purdue safety Navon Mosley during the third quarter Saturday at TCF Bank

Ibrahim's effort sets tone for Gophers offense

Operating behind an offensive line that won one-on-one battles throughout Saturday's game, the 5-10, 205-pound Mohamed Ibrahim got better as the game went on.
Gophers wide receiver Rashod Bateman (13) has caught 42 passes for 578 yards and six TDs.

Bateman finds his form after standing firm to Gophers

Rashod Bateman is on a historic pace as a Gophers freshman wide receiver.
The Gophers have allowed more than 43 points per game in Big Ten play, including 55 at Illinois on Saturday.

Gophers hoping Rossi's new voice will spark better defense

The defensive problems facing the Gophers, to put it bluntly, are massive. Enter Joe Rossi, the team's interim defensive coordinator.
Gophers true freshman defensive tackle Jamaal Teague (52) had hoped to play in four games and still retain a redshirt year, but injuries might force c

Redshirt blues: Fleck showing how plans change under new rules

The reality of this season means that coach P.J. Fleck is asking more from one of his freshman that he wanted. "He's not ready to play, but he's going to play."
Former defensive coordinator Robb Smith during football practice at the University of Minnesota in 2017.

Fleck on firing Smith: 'Sooner or later you have to make a choice'

"This is not about one specific game or one specific issue," P.J. Fleck said, explaining his decision to fire his defensive coordinator, a longtime friend and colleague.
Former Minnesota defensive coordinator Robb Smith

Fleck fires defensive coordinator Smith after Illinois scores 55 points

Coach P.J. Fleck fired defensive coordinator Robb Smith on Sunday. The Gophers have given up at least 30 points in all seven of their 2018 Big Ten games.
Illinois quarterback AJ Bush Jr. runs for yards in the red zone during the fourth quarter

A forgettable Gophers rewind in 55-31 loss to Illinois

The host Illini racked up 646 yards of offense - 430 alone of the ground - with most of it in coming in sizable chunks. Illinois scored four times from 67 yards or longer.
Shannon Brooks

Season over for Gophers running back Shannon Brooks

Gophers coach P.J. Fleck said after Saturday's 55-31 loss at Illinois that Shannon Brooks, a senior running back, will miss the rest of the season because of a knee injury suffered in last week's victory over Indiana.
By studying and observing diligently as a Gophers backup, redshirt freshman Tanner Morgan was ready when called to start.

Gophers QB Morgan was prepared, confident when he took the reins

Tanner Morgan, a redshirt freshman, led three TD drives in the second half of a loss at Nebraska, then passed for 302 yards and three TDs in a win last week. Morgan will start again Saturday at Illinois.
Running back Shannon Brooks will not face charges for an alleged assault.

Gophers' Brooks will not face charges in alleged assault

Injured Gophers senior running back Shannon Brooks was arrested Oct. 14 and released the next day.
Virginia wide receiver Chuck Davis.

Randy Johnson's Five Spot: Surprising division leaders

With a month left in the regular season, some conference races have interesting division leaders.
Pat Fitzgerald’s Northwestern team looked like a non-factor in the Big Ten West after a 1-3 start to the season with home losses to Duke and Akron.

Everyone is chasing Northwestern in the Big Ten West

Colllege Football Insider: Only a late-season collapse can keep the Wildcats from reaching Indy.
Minnesota's linebacker Blake Cashman (38) celebrated a safety in the second quarter Minnesota took on Miami (Ohio), Saturday, September 15, 2018 in Mi

Walk-on wonderful: Linebacker Cashman making big plays for U

The former Eden Prairie star has been nominated for a national honor given to the most outstanding player who began his career as a walk-on.
Gophers running back Mohamed Ibrahim, left, is expected back from an undisclosed injury to play against Illinois on Saturday. Shannon Brooks, right, w

Next back up: Ibrahim gets Saturday's start in Gophers backfield

The Gophers have needed their depth at running back in a season that has been marked by injuries to players at that position.
Tanner Morgan (2) will start again for the Gophers on Saturday at Illinois, but it’s not clear if the team will have Shannon Brooks (4) available af

Morgan will start for U at quarterback against Illinois

The redshirt freshman quarterback was named Big Ten co-freshman of the week on Monday after leading the Gophers over Indiana.
Gophers receiver Tyler Johnson fell into the end zone for his second touchdown of the night against the Hoosiers.

Gophers' Johnson continuing to prove quite receptive

Gophers junior Tyler Johnson caught five passes for 102 yards and touchdowns of 8 and 18 yards Friday night. It's his sixth 100-yard receiving game of the season.
Gophers wide receiver Rashod Bateman (13) celebrated with Seth Green (17) and wide receiver Chris Autman-Bell after Bateman’s decisive TD catch Frid

Long TD allows Gophers to escape with a win over Indiana after late blunders

The Hoosiers rallied from 22 points down to tie the Gophers, but a long touchdown pass sealed Minnesota's first Big Ten win of the season
Gophers coach P. J. Fleck looked for answers last week at Nebraska

Don't count Fleck among those 'shocked' at Gophers' struggles

P.J. Fleck this week reiterated that he expected a difficult season and that patience will be required with the Gophers football team. They have not won a Big Ten game this season.
Nebraska wide receiver Stanley Morgan Jr. (8) makes a catch and runs for a touchdown in front of Minnesota defensive back Jordan Howden (23) during th

After defensive collapse, Gophers football team goes back to basics

With the season in a downward spiral and Friday night's game against Indiana at TCF Bank Stadium quickly approaching, the Gophers need an answer for a reeling defense.
Zack Annexstad

Availability of Gophers QB Annexstad still uncertain

Zack Annexstad suffered an internal midsection injury late in the first half at Nebraska on Saturday and Gophers coach P.J. Fleck said Tuesday, "I'm not sure yet" if Annexstad will play Friday night vs. Indiana.
Minnesota's quarterback Tanner Morgan ran for a first down during the third quarter as Minnesota took on Nebraska at Memorial Stadium, Saturday, Octob

Injury could force quarterback switch for Gophers against Indiana

Tanner Morgan replaced Zack Annexstad in the second half at Nebraska and led a pair of touchdown drives at the start of the third quarter.
Zack Annexstad warmed up before Minnesota took on Nebraska on Saturday.

Gophers QB Annexstad sent to hospital with injury

Zack Annexstad did not play in the second half of Saturday's game at Nebraska because of a midsection injury suffered shortly before halftime. He was sent to a hospital but was expected to be released.
Nebraska defensive back Lamar Jackson stopped Minnesota receiver Rashod Bateman from making a grab during the second quarter

'We didn't come close': Gophers trounced by previously winless Nebraska

The Cornhuskers went ahead by four touchdowns in the second quarter, and racked up 659 yards for the game in their 53-28 victory sending the Gophers to their fourth consecutive loss.
Gophers running back Mohamed Ibrahim (24) was named Big Ten freshman of the week after he had 157 rushing yards and two TDs at Ohio State.

Redshirt freshmen Ibrahim, Andries power Gophers ground game

On Saturday at Nebraska, running back Mohamed Ibrahim and lineman Blaise Andries, among many others, hope to build on last week's performance at Ohio State in which the Gophers ran for 178 yards.
Minnesota defensive back Antonio Shenault ran with the ball after an interception during the third quarter against Miami (Ohio). But in three Big Ten

Gophers defense is after the big prize — turnovers

While some teams celebrate fumbles and picks with chains, backpacks and robes the Gophers need to start taking the ball away from opponents to make any turnover prop worthwhile.
Nebraska head coach Scott Frost

Stumbling, winless Huskers face Gophers stuck in agonizing slump

Nebraska is off to an 0-6 start with several close losses under new coach Scott Frost, the quarterback on Nebraska's last national championship team in 1997.
Shannon Brooks, recovering from a knee injury, was on track to play Saturday.

Brooks back with Gophers, but Fleck says player's status 'evolving'

Senior running back Shannon Brooks was on track to play his first game Saturday in Nebraska, but his weekend arrest could change that.
Ohio State running back Mike Weber

Big Ten office admits measurement needed before Ohio State awarded key first down

With the Gophers up 7-3 early Saturday, Ohio State faced fourth-and-2 from the Minnesota 44. Mike Weber was given credit for a 3-yard gain, though the ball was spotted ahead of where Weber was down
Minnesota's wide receiver Demetrius Douglas ran past Ohio State's defensive end Jashon Cornell and defensive back Alex Williams, right, during the fou

Ohio State benefited from extra yard on early fourth-down play vs. U

Rather than dwell on one call, coach P.J. Fleck took away some positives from a game in which the Gophers twice had the lead on a College Football Playoff contender.
Shannon Brooks (left)

Investigation continues into alleged assault by U football player Brooks

Shannon Brooks was released from the Hennepin County jail because 'further investigation is needed' in connection with an incident between Brooks and his roommate early Sunday.
Ohio State wide receiver Terry McLaurin caught a TD pass despite the defensive efforts from the Gophers' Coney Durr during the first quarter Saturday.

'Season Two.' Can Gophers win race to six wins and a bowl?

After dropping from 3-0 to 3-3, the Gophers begin the second half of their season on Saturday against shockingly winless Nebraska.
Shannon Brooks

U running back Brooks arrested, suspected of assaulting roommate

Brooks, who has been sidelined all season because of a knee injury, was booked into the Hennepin County jail about 2:40 a.m. Sunday, according to the jail log.
Ohio State’s wide receiver Terry McLaurin caught a pass for a touchdown despite defensive efforts from Minnesota’s defensive back Coney Durr durin

Gophers spook Ohio State before Buckeyes pull away 30-14

Too many mistakes, not enough breaks for the U allow the third-ranked Buckeyes to remain unbeaten.
Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins dropped back to pass during the second half against the Gophers on Saturday.

Gophers-Ohio State game recap

A quick look at Saturday's game.
Gophers defensive back Jacob Huff tipped up Ohio State running back Mike Weber during the fourth quarter Saturday.

Gophers run defense shines against Buckeyes

Ohio State ran for only 92 yards, but the Buckeyes were able to do damage in the air.
Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins leads an offense averaging 49 points per game. He has thrown 25 TD passes and completes nearly 72 percent of his

'He's a stud.' Gophers face huge challenge in Ohio State QB Haskins

The backup to J.T. Barrett last year, Dwayne Haskins has passed for a nation's-best 25 touchdowns this season and is averaging 319.8 passing yards per game.
Daniel Faalele (pictured with his mother, Ruth, and brother, Taylor), all 6-9 and 400 pounds of him, will start at right offensive tackle at Ohio Stat

400-pound freshman moves into starting spot on Gophers' offense

True freshman Daniel Faalele, all 6-9 and 400 pounds of him, will start at right offensive tackle against Ohio State on Saturday.
Minnesota quarterback Zack Annexstad was sacked by Iowa's Chauncey Golston during the second quarter

Protection problems: Annexstad sacked five times by Iowa

Doing most of the damage for the Hawkeyes was defensive end Anthony Nelson, who had three first-half sacks, including two on back-to-back plays in the second quarter.
Nate Stanley is in his second year as Iowa’s starting quarterback and, at 6-4 and 242 pounds, he’s tough to get on the ground.

Iowa QB Stanley a big fish in a Big Ten pond

Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley was a standout the Badgers let get away.
P. J. Fleck.

Fleck's salary isn't near the top among Big Ten coaches

USA Today released its annual study of college football head coaching salaries Wednesday.
Jordan Howden stopped Maryland’s Anthony McFarland on a third-quarter run last month in College Park, Md.

Gophers new safety Howden has past Winfield-like moments

Jordan Howden, a true freshman walk-on from Las Vegas, is part of the Gophers' plan to replace "one of the best" in injured Antoine Winfield Jr. Hodwen is described as "a diamond in the rough" by coaches.
Iowa defensive end Parker Hesse, left, tackled Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrook last month in Iowa City

Hawkeyes' front four poses big problems for Gophers football

Gophers coach P.J. Fleck is impressed by Iowa's large front wall and linebackers, calling the group "big, long, tall [and] rangy."
Maryland linebacker Tre Watson sacked quarterback Zack Annexstad during the Gophers’ Big Ten opener on Sept. 22.

Healing Gophers eager to correct mistakes made in Maryland

Coming off a 42-13 loss to the Terrapins in the Big Ten opener on Sept. 22, the Gophers used the extra time to regroup, self-assess and prepare for an eight-week grind through the heart of the conference season.

To replace Antoine Winfield Jr., P.J. Fleck could be forced to rely on freshmen again

Two true freshmen are taking repetitions at safety.
Gophers defensive back Antoine Winfield Jr. wore a green sticker on his helmet in memory of Nick Connelly.

Gophers players honor former teammate Connelly following his death

The Gophers paid tribute to Nick Connelly, who died Wednesday, by wearing a helmet decal with his initials and lime-green wristbands, the color used to promote lymphoma awareness.
True freshman quarterback Zack Annexstad is one of the reasons for the Gophers’ greater optimism for 2018.

Despite striking similarities, Gophers say they're different from 2017

Another 3-0 start to the football season. Another opener vs. Maryland. Déjà vu? The Gophers think not.
Nick Connelly

'Fly high bro.' Gophers mourn death of former teammate Nick Connelly

Connelly, a star player at Red Wing, died Wednesday at age 22 after a three-month battle with cancer. He stopped playing football last season because of concussion issues.
From pupil to rival: Fleck had early fan in Maryland's interim coach

From pupil to rival: Fleck had early fan in Maryland's interim coach

It's a rare reunion of teacher and pupil, who mutually admire each other, and it comes with much on the line for P.J. Fleck's Gophers and Matt Canada's Terrapins.
Gophers kicker Emmit Carpenter, who celebrated after a field goal with teammate Payton Jordahl last week, is the most accurate in team history.

Lessons of success, failure keep Gophers kicker Emmit Carpenter on his toes

A student of his craft, the Green Bay native sympathized with Daniel Carlson's troubles that cost him his job with the Vikings.
Quarterback Zack Annexstad suffered an ankle injury early Saturday but went on to throw 20 passes and help lead the Gophers to victory.

Annexstad's ankle won't keep him out of Saturday's Big Ten opener

"Zack's performance was pretty gutsy. In terms of showing he's got guts, he can fight through being uncomfortable,'' coach P.J. Fleck said.
Minnesota's wide receiver Tyler Johnson plowed through Redhawks defensive back Joshua Allen for a touchdown

Nothing to sweat about: Gophers play through misses to beat Miami (Ohio)

Three touchdown catches by Tyler Johnson and a stingy defense masked some Gophers blemishes in a 26-3 victory over the RedHawks on a steamy afternoon at TCF Bank Stadium.

Gophers defense gets a boost from possessive offense

In the first half Saturday, the Gophers held the ball for 17:14 to Miami's 12:46 in building a 19-3 lead.
Coach P.J. Fleck greeted quarterback Zack Annexstad before the season-opener

Kids are all right: Gophers true freshmen thriving more than surviving so far

Together, four fresh faces of Gophers football — including quarterback Zack Annexstad and receiver Rashod Bateman — have made a positive impact in the season's early weeks.
Shannon Brooks, shown in a 2017 Gophers game, could be back on the field sooner rather than later.

Plot thickens as Gophers look to replace injured Smith in backfield

One of two freshman will start for Minnesota against Miami of Ohio on Saturday. But an unexpected name has made its way into the conversation for later this season.
Gophers' Winfield Jr., Carpenter win Big Ten weekly honors

Gophers' Winfield Jr., Carpenter win Big Ten weekly honors

Antoine Winfield Jr. was named the Big Ten co-defensive player of the week for his efforts in the Gophers' 21-14 victory over Fresno State, and was joined by Emmit Carpenter as special teams player of the week.
The Gophers made their way out onto the field through the tunnel before they took on Fresno State at TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday

Young Gophers making Coach Fleck proud

Gophers Insider: An emotional P.J. Fleck heaped praise on his young team's performance Saturday night in the face of adversity after senior Rodney Smith was injured.
Minnesota’s running back Rodney Smith is helped off the field after a first quarter injury as Minnesota took on Fresno State at TCF Bank Stadium, Sa

Gophers can be proud of their penalty-free ways

The Gophers cut down on the flags in their second game, committing three for 30 yards in their 21-14 victory over Fresno State on Saturday night.
Minnesota running back Rodney Smith

Gophers running back Smith injured early in game vs. Fresno State

Senior running back Rodney Smith injured his left knee three offensive plays into Saturday night's game, in which he took a screen pass 11 yards for a first down.
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