Tanner Morgan has started 45 consecutive games for the Gophers, a streak that dates to the eighth game of the 2018 season and one that's lengthy for a position that takes a lot of punishment. Whether Morgan's streak reaches 46 will play out this week.

Morgan took a hit to the head during the fourth quarter of the Gophers' 26-14 loss at Illinois and left the game after being tended to on the field. Coach P.J. Fleck said after the game that Morgan was taken to a local hospital for evaluation but did not know more specifics on the injury, saying it was upper body.

A team spokesman said Morgan flew back to Minnesota with the team after being cleared by personnel at the hospital.

"He's in really good care. He's alert,'' Fleck said, adding that Morgan's wife Sarah, mother Pat and Gophers athletic director Mark Coyle accompanied Morgan to the hospital. "… They took him in there to get reassurance and to look at all of the injury. … We just don't know the extent of it yet.''

The injury happened with the Gophers trailing Illinois 23-14 early in the fourth quarter. Facing third-and-7 from the Illinois 44, Morgan was flushed from the pocket and turned upfield. He dived in attempt to gain the first down, and Illini linebacker Gabe Jacas, converging on the play, struck Morgan's helmet with his right fist. No penalty was called on the play.

Trainers tended to Morgan on the field before he walked to the sideline and went into the medical tent. Later, he was taken by cart to the locker room, sitting upright with a towel over his head.

"Tanner's a tough kid,'' Fleck said. "… When you kind of get your hands pinned down and you're driven into the turf, it's hard.'' Fleck added that he didn't notice Morgan having any issues earlier in the game.

Before the injury, Morgan endured tough afternoon, completing only four of 12 passes for 21 yards — his fewest as a starter. He threw a first-quarter interception and was sacked once. He also had a 9-yard touchdown run in the second quarter among his six carries for 23 yards.

Redshirt freshman Athan Kaliakmanis replaced Morgan and immediately converted a fourth-and-1 situation with a 4-yard gain after initially bobbling the shotgun snap. Kaliakmanis was sacked for a 10-yard loss on his second play, then threw back-to-back incompletions, which forced the Gophers to punt. He played two more series, both ending in interceptions. Kaliakmanis finished 2-for-6 for 17 yards.

Fleck said sophomore QB Cole Kramer was dealing with an injury this week, so he didn't play.

"Athan has an opportunity,'' Fleck said. "It's hard for a redshirt freshman to be put in that environment, that situation, but he's only going to continue to get better from that. We'll get him ready, keep preparing him. I know he'll bounce back and be ready to go if that's what it takes.''


  • Gophers safety Tyler Nubin was injured on the game's first series but returned to the game, finishing with a team-high 13 tackles.
  • Gophers running back Mohamed Ibrahim rushed for 127 yards, extending his streak of 100-yard games to 14. That's the longest active streak in FBS.
  • Freshman running back Zach Evans, who suffered a foot injury during training camp, dressed for a game for the first time this season.
  • Illinois tackle Alex Palczewski made his 59th career start, tying the Big Ten record set last year by former Gophers offensive lineman Conner Olson.

The Star Tribune did not send the writer of this article to the game. This was written using a broadcast, interviews and other material.