Thank you for reading Football Across Minnesota (FAM), my weekly column that tours football topics in our state from preps to pros. You can find all the previous FAM columns right here. — Chip
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Michael Floyd brings his cleats with him to work every day, and he still runs routes. He says he's still in shape if any NFL team wants to give him a call.
"If they don't, I have no hard feelings," he said. "I'm in a good place."
The former Cretin-Derham Hall star and seven-year NFL wide receiver is trying his hands, some of the best in Minnesota pass-catching history, in a new venture, however. He's coaching wide receivers at Concordia (St. Paul) to determine if this is a career path he might want to pursue in his next stage of life.
Mike Harris, another former Vikings player, is on that same road. The former offensive lineman is an assistant coach at Macalester trying to decide his next career move.
"I'm keeping all options open," Harris said.
Floyd's NFL career ended in the Baltimore Ravens training camp in 2019. He had a connection to Concordia through the school's strength and conditioning coach, Eric Overland, who worked at Notre Dame when Floyd played for the Fighting Irish.
Floyd figured he might give coaching a shot someday, so he accepted the opportunity. He enjoys the teaching aspect of coaching: breaking down intricacies of route running and showing his receivers how to identify a cornerback's tendencies when studying film.
"The kids really pay attention to what I've got to say because I've been in their shoes and I succeeded to the next level," he said. "It's a great time and I love the kids that are there."
Coaching football requires long hours away from family, though. Floyd isn't sure yet if he's ready to make that sacrifice. He is married with two young children and a third on the way.
"That's a big commitment being a full-time coach," he said. "I'm going to take it step by step and see where it goes."
Harris sees attractive options when he looks at his future. He might stick with coaching, or move into scouting. Or maybe pursue a front-office career.
He's just happy to be back around football after having his career cut short by a rare brain condition.
"It was hard saying goodbye to the game," he said.
Harris started every game for the Vikings at right guard in 2015. Three months after signing a one-year, $2 million extension, he was diagnosed with a brain arteriovenous malformation (AVM) in June 2016 and underwent a procedure at Mayo Clinic.
The risk of head trauma forced him to retire.
"It was a hard pill to swallow, still to this day," he said. "I was at the height of my career. I was feeling good about playing many more seasons. … It's still hard to talk about, but at this point in my life, I'm just grateful to be alive."
His outlook about football changed after he took a volunteer position at Hopkins High a few years ago.
"Ever since I got involved with working with those student-athletes, my love for the game came back to me," he said. "I'm not going to lie, for a while I was a little bitter, as anyone would be when they lose something they love. Once I got into coaching, my love came back."
Harris participated in the NFL's Nunn-Wooten Scouting Fellowship before this season. He spent a week with the Vikings at training camp, learning different facets of the operation, from scouting to managing the salary cap.
"That opened my eyes to the business of the game," he said.
As a player, Harris maintained a singular focus on his job, not how an NFL organization operates day to day.
"I was just worried about how I was going to block [Rams star defensive tackle] Aaron Donald," he said, laughing.
The Nunn-Wooten internship sparked an interest in the construction and management of a football team. He also loves coaching and working with Macalester's offensive linemen.
"It's very rewarding being in a role where I can impact them and share my experiences of playing at the top level," he said.
Harris, who got married last year, intends to stay in football in some capacity. He's undecided on which area he will choose.
"I know the best is yet to come," he said. "I'll always treasure my playing career, but just be grateful for what you have."
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FOR THE LOVE OF THE GAME
An explosive offense ... in Minnesota?
Bemidji State quarterback Brandon Alt had a typical performance in a victory Saturday: 376 yards passing and four touchdowns.
Typical as in, This guy is on fire.
Alt, a fifth-year sophomore from Park of Cottage Grove, is rewriting the school's record book in guiding the Beavers to an 8-2 record and share of the NSIC North Division title.
Alt has set single-season records in completions (226), passing yards (3,221) and touchdown passes (38).
He ranks second in Division II in touchdown passes and fourth in passing yards.
"The whole offense is just exploding right now," Alt said.
The Beavers run a spread, no-huddle, fast-tempo offense. They rank third nationally in plays per game, an average of 78. Alt makes it all hum. He has thrown the third-most passes (416) among all D-II quarterbacks.
"It's a fun offense," he said. "And It's pretty explosive when we make plays."
Alt is quick to share credit with his receivers, running backs and offensive linemen, noting their wide-open offense requires all parts functioning at an optimum level. The quarterback is happy to finally be healthy enough to serve as the conductor.
Alt's career has been filled with stops and starts. He redshirted as a freshman in 2017. He won the starting job the following season but suffered a torn ACL in Week 2. He rehabbed and returned in 2019, then re-injured the same ACL in the opener and missed the rest of the season. COVID wiped out last season.
Now he's setting passing records in his sophomore season, his fifth year on campus.
"I missed it, let's just say that," he said.
Alt has two seasons of eligibility remaining after this one, and he plans on using them.
"Oh yeah, I'm playing all my years," he said. "I love it. It's hard to walk away from playing sports. Through the injuries, I just knew that I could still be that guy. It's exciting that the hard work is starting to pay off."
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Baseball player making new football fans
Randon Dauman had no personal connection to Minnesota when he joined the Gophers baseball team this year. The pitcher from a small Wisconsin town has earned some new fans in the big city, though: The Phelps Falcons youth football players and their families.
Dauman donated through his non-profit $1,500 to buy kids in the Phelps program new football pants, footballs and mouth guards this season. He also purchased more than 30 pairs of new cleats for a Minneapolis youth baseball program this past summer.
Dauman said he never had to worry about having adequate sports equipment as a kid in his hometown of Columbus, Wis. He gained a different perspective playing junior college baseball in Chicago. On his daily commute to campus, he often noticed kids playing basketball on dilapidated courts with worn-out balls.
"That was hard for me to see," he said.
He saw and heard similar stories when he transferred to Saint Louis University for one season.
"It got to a point where I thought I have the capability of making a change with all my connections with sports and people I know," he said.
Dauman contacted a lawyer who helped him establish a nonprofit that he named "Next Of Can," which he runs with help from his mom. Dauman's mission is to provide underserved kids in Minneapolis with new sports and music equipment. He makes daily calls to Twin Cities companies and organizations seeking donations.
Bauman is a business finance major and sophomore on the baseball team. He visited a Falcons practice this season to meet the kids wearing new pants thanks to his effort.
"Something like this doesn't work without people being generous," he said.
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- Mankato West defense: Every player on that side gets a game ball after recording the eighth shutout of the season in the section championship vs. Chaska. The Scarlets have posted five consecutive shutouts and only allowed 33 points all season.
- Jarrett Bennett: St. Michael-Albertville senior rushed for 137 yards and four touchdowns, including the game-winner with 1:36 left in a 38-35 victory over Centennial in the second round of the Class 6A playoffs.
- Garrett Olson: Minnesota Duluth quarterback passed for 171 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 76 yards and another score in a 41-15 upset of Augustana.
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He said what?!
"Obviously, the product isn't showing on the field. We're losing these really tight games over and over, but at some point, it's going to turn. We battle every day, we come into work on Wednesday, and we study our opponent. We practice hard. We care for one another in the locker room, and it's just unfortunate that this keeps happening, because we do care about the fans, and we do care about winning. But we've got to start putting it all together." — Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks.
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Numbers to know
- 9: Passes targeted for Vikings star Justin Jefferson the past two games combined, which is not anywhere close to being enough.
- 98: Snaps played by four Vikings defensive players — linebackers Kendricks and Anthony Barr, and safeties Xavier Woods and Camryn Bynum — in the OT loss to Baltimore
- 175: Pass attempts for the Gophers this season, which ranks only ahead of the three service academies for fewest passes thrown among 130 FBS teams. The Gophers are also fourth from the bottom in completions.
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The Vikings led 14-3 when Bynum intercepted Lamar Jackson and returned it to the Baltimore 16-yard line with 1:41 left in the first half. A 21-3 lead at halftime would have sent the Vikings to the locker room feeling good about their chances.
Instead, they made a mess of the favorable situation. Dalvin Cook lost 1 yard on a first-down run and then Kirk Cousins misfired on back-to-back passes, forcing the Vikings to settle for a field goal. Not only that, the series lasted only 16 seconds, which left the Ravens enough time to drive for a touchdown to make the deficit only 17-10 at halftime.
And that's how a team loses so many close games.
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Grab your popcorn
St. John's at Bethel, Saturday, 1 p.m. The winner gets the MIAC's automatic bid to the Division III playoffs. St. John's, ranked No. 5 nationally, won the first meeting 31-25 at home, the only loss for 14th-ranked Bethel.
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An important 48 hours for …
Mike Sanford Jr. and Klint Kubiak. The two offensive coordinators — the Gophers' Sanford and the Vikings' Kubiak — are coming off games in which their offenses struggled. Fans and media are not happy with either. Important games for both loom this weekend: Gophers at Iowa on Saturday, and Vikings at Chargers on Sunday. Their offenses need to show more creativity and aggressiveness in the passing game.
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A FAM FINAL WORD
The Gophers and Vikings squandered opportunities in critical situations this weekend. The Gophers botched an offensive possession at the end of the first half, trailing 14-0. The Vikings botched a possession at the end of the first half and again in overtime. Their failure to capitalize in those moments played a huge role in both teams walking off the field in defeat.
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Thank you for reading Football Across Minnesota. I'll publish this each Monday night on startribune.com, timed to kickoff of "Monday Night Football." And you can also join me on Twitter during the first quarter of MNF as I chat with readers about what I wrote each week.
Chip (@chipscoggins on Twitter)