And the winner of the Gophers’ quarterback battle is …
Gophers coach P.J. Fleck on his Sunday morning WCCO Radio appearance said that both Demry Croft and Conor Rhoda “did a lot of really good things’’ during Saturday’s scrimmage, but neither has won the starting job as the Aug. 31 season opener against Buffalo approaches.
“There still hasn’t been that one guy who’s said, ‘This is my job. I do this way better than the other guy,’ ’’ Fleck said.
“The decision is getting tougher because they are both improving,’’ Fleck added. “… Hopefully we’ll be able to make that decision in a reasonable time coming up.’’
Saturday’s scrimmage, which was closed to the public and media, ran about 130 plays. “We had to be able to get our young kids reps,’’ Fleck said “We had to put our quarterbacks in a lot of tough situations.’’
Fleck emphasized that being decisive and avoiding turnovers will be key for whichever quarterback wins the starting job. “The teams that usually are at the top of their divisions, they win the turnover margin,’’ he said. “… Whenever the quarterback touches [the ball] every single play, the decisions he makes, decisively, end up being the difference of the season.’’
Overall, Fleck was pleased with the scrimmage.
“I’m really proud of the progress we’ve made,’’ he said. “Does it mean we’re fifth-year seniors across the board and we have depth everywhere? No. But we’ve gotten better since the beginning of training camp to now.’’
** Fleck lauded true freshman receiver Demetrius Douglas for his performance in the scrimmage. “He has been outstanding,’’ Fleck said. “… Incredible leader. It looks like he’s been here three years.’’
** Fleck liked what he saw from true freshman Rey Estes at cornerback and expects the former quarterback to provide needed depth in the secondary. The coach also said Justus Harris, another true freshman, could help at nickelback.
** Fleck on true freshman offensive tackle Blaise Andries: “If we can play him, and he’s going to play [extensively], we’ll play him. You never want to play a kid to kind of be a backup and he plays the ninth game one rep.’’
Fleck sees Andries improving while taking his lumps. “He’s gotta get used to getting his butt kicked at times but also knowing to look at it from the positive side,’’ he said.