Athan Kaliakmanis Expected to Start vs Northwestern
The Minnesota Gophers are 6-3 and fresh off a win vs Rutgers last week. A victory that would not have been feasible without backup redshirt Freshman QB, Athan Kaliakmanis, taking over in the 2nd half, after Tanner Morgan left the game with an upper-body injury.
Entering Saturday’s afternoon matchup vs the (1-8) Northwestern Wildcats, the biggest questions of the week surround who will play quarterback for the Gophers. Will PJ pass the QB torch to his highly-touted 2021 recruit? Or, will he go back to what he’s used to and ride Tanner Morgan out for the final few games of his college career?
Athan Kaliakmanis Expected to Start
Well according to Ryan Burns (GopherIllustrated.com), Fleck won’t have to make that decision. That’s because the expected ailment for Morgan is another concussion, which would be his 2nd in three weeks.
If true, it’d be impossible for him to clear protocol in time to play in Evanston (03:25 mark — transcribed below). On Mackey and Judd, Thursday, Darren Wolfson (KSTP, SKOR North) reported essentially the same thing. That Kaliakmanis will be the guy.
“From what I’ve heard from Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday practice, we are going to be operating this episode as if Athan Kaliakmanis is starting this game… …Fleck has not confirmed it’s a concussion. He continues to say it’s an upper-body injury. I will say this: I’d be absolutely gobsmacked if it’s not a concussion and that would be his second concussion in three weeks. So, different parts of the [concussion] protocol, then. I’m just hoping he’s ok, at this point. But I think everybody is going to get their wish, to see their favorite player, which is the backup quarterback.”Ryan Burns (GopherIllustrated.com) – Gopher Gridiron Podcast
Another concussion for Tanner Morgan would be a scary prospect, especially given his struggles with head injuries in the past. But as Burns pointed out, the fanbase was ready to see Athan Kaliakmanis take the helm as Minnesota Gophers starting QB.
Injury or not, it’s Athan’s time
He proved vs Rutgers that he is ready and clearly looked like the better player, after Morgan struggled to move the offense at all in the first half. This isn’t the way we wanted to see the torch passed. But oftentimes in football, injury is what forces a coach’s hand.
It’ll be good to get Athan another start under his belt, before the the Gophers face Iowa and Wisconsin to close the season. Remember, a 10-win season is still a possibility, if the Gophers can find a way to win out.
Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan