Besides adjusting to a whole new coaching staff this spring, the Gophers are looking for a new starting quarterback to replace Mitch Leidner. It'll be an ongoing story, and every word the coaches speak will be parsed. The good thing about a blog is there's plenty of space. So let's go, verbatim, to P.J. Fleck's answer during Tuesday's media scrum:
Question: What’s your early assessment of your quarterback spot?
Fleck: "It took seven questions to get to that one. I thought that would be the first. I will say this: I’m proud of all the guys. To be able to come in to a brand-new situation. It’s not very similar to what they had. It’s brand new. Terminology's new. And to have all the guys commit the way they have, I’m very proud of that process.
"I think the guys that are really kind of showing a lot: You look at Conor [Rhoda's] doing a tremendous job of picking everything up. Is he where he’s going to be? No way. We are so far away from being an elite football team right now. But he’s picking up the offense. He has command of the offense. He’s learning how to be a leader on the offense, how to be an elite quarterback, in terms of running the offense the way he needs to run it.
"And Demry Croft is doing a nice job. Tanner Morgan’s doing a nice job. But you see them all progressing more and more throughout the course of each day. Now, we’ve had two installs over the course of three practices. Now, four, five and six are one-install-per-practice. Now we’re going to start going. But the nuts and the bolts and the base, 25 percent of the offense, is in. But now it’s going to start picking up situational football, and that’s where I really want to see how they handle themselves.
"Football’s a game of situations. It’s not just plays. It’s not just practice. Now you’ve got to play the game. We’ve already played a few times. You saw the last two periods of us getting off the field, guys going out there and playing it. We have to do that a lot more. Especially with a lot of quarterbacks without much experience."
The takeaway: Yes, it's notable that Fleck didn't mention the other QBs in camp, such as Seth Green, who redshirted last fall and was named the Gophers Offensive Work Team Player of the Year. Fleck actually gave a similar answer to KFAN (100.3-FM) one day earlier, so this wasn't a one-time omission. That said, it's very early in this process. Green should get plenty of chances to impress in coming weeks, along with Mark Williams and walk-on Samuel Pickering.