The Gophers will play their first road game of the season Saturday at Michigan State, and coach P.J. Fleck wants to make sure his players' eyes and ears are prepared for it.
"If you would have come to practice today, you'd be sitting here exhausted, ready to drink a few beers, just to settle down,'' Fleck joked on his KFXN-FM radio show. "It was one of the most chaotic practices — organized chaos. The sights, the sounds, everything was going on to create distractions. [It was] loud as can be. They've got to perform under that type of pressure.''
The Gophers already have high-tempo practices with music blaring throughout. This week, Fleck has turned the volume dial to 11 with some Spartans-specific noise.
"We've got a lot of respect for Michigan State, their tradition, their fans and the environment they create,'' Fleck added. "We do everything we can to simulate the sights and sounds they'll hear — whether it's Michigan State's fight song, whether it's boos, whether it's … different Spartan-type clips from the movie '300' that are coming over the speaker.''
Quarterback Tanner Morgan, who'll be barking out the signals for the Gophers amid the din of 75,000 at Spartan Stadium, believes the simulation helps his team.
"It definitely gets you prepared. It is very loud,'' he said. "And you have to be super locked into the details of what period it is, what's going on. You have to over-communicate like crazy.''
Fleck knows his players will hear what's said and yelled from the Spartans fans, but he doesn't want them to listen to it.
"They're right on top of you. Nobody wants you to do anything good. They're not saying anything good. And you're constantly hearing that negativity,'' he said. "… It's just got to be white noise in the background. That's what we hopefully train our players to do for any road game.''
- Aside from wide receiver Chris Autman-Bell's season-ending lower leg injury, Fleck on his radio show said his team is healthy heading into Saturday's game.
- The weather.com forecast in East Lansing calls for a mostly cloudy Saturday with a high temperature of 66 degrees and a 16% chance of rain.
- This will be one of two games the Gophers play on a natural grass surface in the regular season, with the other being Oct. 22 at Penn State.
- The Gophers' total of 149 points through the first three games of the season is the fourth most in program history. The 1904 team scored 259 against Twin Cities Central High School, South Dakota and Shattuck. A year later, the Gophers scored 170 against Twin Cities Central, Pillsbury/Shattuck and St. Thomas. The 1916 team had 169 points in wins over South Dakota State, North Dakota and South Dakota.