There were plenty of things that PJ Fleck did on Saturday night, in a loss to Iowa, that deserves scrutiny. Just grabbing from the top of my head, I can point out his penalty for running onto the field, after Tyler Johnson got laid out, or his lack of discipline regarding his timeouts in both halves (which cost him, at the least, multiple chances at a touchdown going into halftime instead of settling for a field goal on 1st and goal with just 4 seconds left…).
But after all of that went down, and while the game was on the line with less than 2 minutes left in the 4th quarter, PJ Fleck caught more heat from outsiders when his QB, Tanner Morgan, went to the ground after a big hit on a 2nd down sack. As time ticked away after that play, Tanner Morgan was trying to pull himself off the turf…. but it wasn’t going well. Rodney Smith was motioning to the Gopher sideline, that something was wrong with his QB. So Fleck told Tanner, from the sideline, to stay on the ground. Tanner didn’t want to, and the exchange that took place between him and Fleck, made some wonder if Fleck was trying to save some of the little time that was left on the clock, by forcing an injury timeout for Tanner.
We now know that Tanner was suffering from a concussion, due to the hit on 2nd down, but that didn’t stop the haters from yelling (per usual). PJ actually had to defend himself in Tuesday’s press conference because he was being accused of telling Tanner to stay down, for competetive reasons. Fleck points out how little sense that makes. First, he has two Freshman QB’s that he didn’t want to burn a redshirt game for NOR did he want to bring either of those Freshman in cold, to try and complete the biggest 3rd down of the season.
If you go back and watch everything unfold, you can see Tanner trying to tell Fleck he can go back in… but Fleck has none of it. You can tell he knew Tanner wasn’t right. Instead of this being another reason for haters to jump all over PJ Fleck, this should be a situation where people rally around him. He made the responsible call by making sure Tanner didn’t see the playing field, for another snap of that football game, even though it was the biggest moment, of the biggest drive, in the biggest game, of his coaching career.
Tanner Morgan now sits in concussion protocol, and if you watched all of PJ’s presser, you know that he is day-to-day on whether he will return for this weekend’s game @ Northwestern. If he isn’t ready, Fleck said the QB will be determined by which of his Freshman QB’s claim the job, by practicing the best this week. Those two freshman candidates are Texas-native Jacob Clark and Eden Prairie native Cole Kramer.
Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan
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