Good morning, college football fans. I’ve collected questions about the Gophers on Twitter over the past couple of days, and now I’ll answer the most interesting submissions.
Q: What … did Croft do to get banished? @JohnSharkman
A: This, of course, is what everybody’s been wondering since Tuesday, when coach P.J. Fleck announced that Demry Croft wouldn’t be with the team for Saturday’s game against Middle Tennessee because of “personal reasons.’’
And my answer is I don’t know the specific reason for the discipline. If I did know, I would have reported it. But the reason must be pretty serious when a coach who has very little experience among his QBs makes this move with one who just a week ago was a co-starter.
How long will Croft be away from the team? It’s indefinite, and judging by Fleck’s words and demeanor at his news conference, it doesn’t sound short-term. What I also found telling is that offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca mentioned that the bye week will be very helpful for Seth Green, the new backup, to get increased practice reps. Those comments don’t make it sound as if the staff is preparing to have Croft back quickly.
Q: Why was Seth Green the favorite to start this year w Claeys regime and then 3rd string with Fleck? -- @Gopherated.
A: Quite simply, Fleck is the coach here now, not Tracy Claeys, and he’s going to do things his way. He evaluated the QB situation differently than Claeys – remember, Rhoda would not have been back under Claeys.
Fleck and his staff believed Rhoda and Croft performed better than Green during spring practice and training camp, and that’s why that pecking order was established.
Q: When are they going to throw to the tight end and how has Green looked in competitive practice situations? -- @TKnight23
A: I expected to see more passes to the tight ends by now, but the heavy use of the run game likely has squeezed the tight ends out a bit. I do think we’ll see more use of the tight ends as the season progresses and defenses adjust to covering Tyler Johnson.
As for how Green has looked in practice, there were six practices open to the public during training camp, and my observations of Green were that he didn’t do anything to move ahead of Rhoda or Croft. All practices have been closed since late August, so there’s been no chance to see how Green might be progressing.
Q: Depth chart is #RHODABOAT the starter, #GROWDABOAT (SG17) the backup. … Would that make #ROWMORBOAT (TM13) third? -- @seid0056
A: Very creative with those QB nicknames. Tanner Morgan (TM13) slots in at the No. 3 quarterback, but Fleck says he wants to redshirt the true freshman. I believe it would take a long-term injury or two for Fleck to pull that redshirt off Morgan.
Q: Is there still a chance Blaise Andries could redshirt? -- @Naimnacs
A: Fleck would like to redshirt EVERY freshman if he could. I’d say it’s likely that Andries will play sometime this year – there’s always injuries and attrition on the offensive line. But as the season goes along and if he hasn’t played, say, five or six games in, then the chance of him redshirting increases. Having a bigger, stronger Andries as a fifth-year senior would appeal to any coach.
Q: The D has been pretty good so far, especially in the 2nd half. Might we see Cashman at LB blitzing again? -- @GlanvillePeter
A: I would think that we will see Cashman used more than he has been so far, but the defense has been pretty successful. I believe his speed would come in handy on Saturday against that quick Middle Tennessee team on Saturday.
Q: Do Fleck or the Gophers plan on scheduling any exciting nonconference games in the future? -- @N0ELTHOMPSON
A: I would think they will try to get one Power Five nonconference opponent each year. They don’t have one of those in 2018 (New Mexico, Fresno State and Miami of Ohio) or 2019 (South Dakota State, at Fresno State, Georgia Southern). But they have future games with BYU (2020, 2025), Colorado (2021, 2022) and Mississippi State (2026, 2027). I would be extremely surprised if they scheduled two Power Five nonconference opponents in any year, especially with a nine-game Big Ten schedule.
Q: What bowl do most people say the Gophers will go to? -- @Began11egan
A: Well, they gotta get to six wins first, and a win Saturday would get them halfway there.
I’ve read projections of the Gophers going to the following:
** Foster Farms Bowl in Santa Clara, Calif., against either UCLA or Oregon
** Taxslayer Bowl in Jacksonville vs. Auburn
** Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium vs. Louisville
** Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit vs. Pitt, Georgia Tech or Wake Forest
** Music City Bowl in Nashville vs. Vanderbilt or Mississippi State
Thanks for the questions, everybody. I’ll be doing these Q&As occasionally during the season.