• Gophers football coach P.J. Fleck on which players could surprise heading into the season opener Thursday against South Dakota State: “I would probably say Keonte Schad, one of our 3 techniques [defensive linemen] has really emerged. Noah Hickcox has had a really good camp on the D-line. I think the D-line in general has really improved.”


• Twins Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey on center fielder Byron Buxton’s rehab: “Each and every day that he does a progression in our training room with our doctors and our athletic training folk and strength coaches, they keep saying he’s getting stronger and stronger and not feeling much pain.”


• Washington State football will be featured this season on a new show on HBO, so look for former Gophers coach Tracy Claeys to get a lot of screen time as Cougars defensive coordinator.


• The Gophers men’s basketball team will face Nebraska at home this season, which means former Timberwolves player and executive Fred Hoiberg will be back in the Twin Cities in his first season as Cornhuskers coach. Hoiberg’s 2019 recruiting class ranks fifth in the Big Ten after Nebraska ranked last in 2018. He has three offers out to 2020 players from Minnesota: Dawson Garcia of Prior Lake, Ben Carlson of East Ridge and Kerwin Walton of Hopkins.


• ESPN basketball reporter Kevin Pelton picked the Wolves 10th in the Western Conference writing, “The Timberwolves might be a bit underrated because of the return of forward Robert Covington, who missed the final 45 games of last season.”


• One pitcher to keep an eye on in the Twins farm system is Bailey Ober at Class AA Pensacola. The Twins drafted the 24-year-old righthander in the 12th round in 2017 out of the College of Charleston. In 68⅔ innings this season spanning three levels, he is 7-0 with a 0.79 ERA, 86 strikeouts and only eight walks.