A big milestone was passed Saturday at Minnesota Sports Fan LLC and MinnesotaSportsFan.com. I attended my first sporting event as a member of the media. Standing across from PJ Fleck as he addressed a room of 10 media members, that included me, was a pretty surreal experience, especially when it’s a milestone I’ve looked forward to since creating this .com a little over two years ago…
Anyway, let’s act like we’ve been there and get on with it…
The first 3-4 drives were pretty fucking boring, to be honest. Everything seemed to be thrown off a bit by the move inside. But after a few series, Annexstad found his footing and his tight end, Bryce Witham, for the game’s first touchdown. It was the maroon team that would find the end-zone second too.
This time, the 400 lb Sophomore offensive tackle, Danielle Faalele, was given the rock and a mission to find the goaline. I think Carter Coughlin said it best in the postgame press conference:
Question to Carter Coughlin: ”how many guys would it take to tackle Faalele?”— Minnesota Sports Fan (@realmnsportsfan) April 13, 2019
”He’s like as big as 3 guys so... at least 3..”
Sideline Views: Faalele Touchdown Edition pic.twitter.com/jnPSwz5bra— Minnesota Football (@GopherFootball) April 13, 2019
As far as the game, itself? It wasn’t very good, as far as being close and competitive. The early trend continued and it ended with a blowout victory for the maroon team. There were definitely some things and guys that stuck out, though.
The size of this offensive line continues to grow, on a team that looks bigger every year, too. We didn’t see our two starting running backs in either Shannon Brooks or Rodney Smith, who continue to recover from injuries. I’m pretty sure they’ll both be 33-years-old when the season starts. Even in their absence, just like for most of last season, the running backs consistently gouged the defense for big chunks. Depth at RB and a good OL are staples to Big Ten success. The Minnesota RB depth is near the top of the NCAA and that OL continues to improve.
There were plenty of big plays made on defense too, including an interception returned for a touchdown by Minnesota’s own, Thomas Rush. Thomas won a half of the MVP award on the day but he stuck out to me before that big bastard started making plays. At one point, I turned to GopherIllustrated.com‘s Ryan Burns and told him how shocked I was at the size of Rush. #8 in maroon stuck out so much, I had to check the media guide to make sure I was seeing his name right from long distance…
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I don’t want this post about a Spring Game to get too long so here are a few other bullet points to wrap this up:
- Zack Annexstad will be the starter. Everytime I see this team, he looks more comfortable and has twice the arm strength of Tanner Morgan. (Fleck disagrees and said, in his postgame presser, that they are neck-and-neck)
- Freshman, Jacob Clark throws a very pretty deep ball and he’s tall as fuck. He looked promising, especially once he grows into that 6-5 frame a bit.
- Antoine Winfield Jr (recovering from season-ending injury) played the entire first half and is clearly at full speed. Rodney Smith probably could have played but Fleck is taking that recovery at a snail’s pace to be extra cautious.
- Carter Coughlin (Senior) and Boye Mafe (RS Sophomore) are going to be animals this season. Both guys jumped out nearly everytime they were on the field.
Fleck Gets 2020 WR Commitment
Justin Bellido seems like your classic slot WR. He’s super shifty and quick. Fleck has brought in a lot of talent into the outside WR positions so I like this commitment. While you can never have too much talent at that position, I like this fit even more.
The newest commitment to the 2020 class pushes the Gophers up the 247Sports rankings to the #16 early recruiting class, nationally (#4 Big Ten).
The 2020 and 2021 classes are huge for PJ Fleck because those are the years that he promised a step-up in both recruiting and play on the field. With the highest-rated QB in recent history already committed for 2021, that class is off to a great start.
I’m so jacked up for football season already that I might be crazy enough to fast-forward through the summer if given the opportunity. Hopefully, you’ll be able to find me in the TCF Bank press box…
Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan
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