There is no question P.J. Fleck is building a juggernaut as head coach of the University of Minnesota football team. But something that may have caught the attention of non-Gopher fans is just how good he his alongside quarterback Tanner Morgan.
ESPN recently released their top quarterback-coach duos for the 2020 season. The Morgan-Fleck combo ranks 4th overall.
Kudos to PJ Fleck and the Gophers. Like many, I thought their run would end today. Instead they let it rip against No. 4 Penn State.
Tanner Morgan, my goodness. pic.twitter.com/nvwSR7tJBR— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) November 9, 2019
This wouldn’t surprise many Gopher fans, especially after their 11-2 season in 2019. Morgan and Fleck ranked behind only…
Definitely an ELITE list to be in the same discussion as.
BUILDING OFF 2019
As for Morgan and Fleck, the two are primed for another fantastic season to build upon their 2019 campaign. After climbing as high as 8th in the College Football Playoff poll and beating 12th-ranked Auburn in the Outback Bowl, hopes are rightfully high headed into 2020. Morgan is even garnering Heisman hype.
“You bet against PJ Fleck in a bowl game yesterday. Two weeks of PJ Fleck motivating those kids, there was no way those kids weren’t gonna go out there and buzz saw Auburn.” –@PatMcAfeeShow on @ToneDigz betting against @GopherFootball pic.twitter.com/eMyxU9RKWX— Pat McAfee Show Quotes (@Patmcafeequotes) January 2, 2020
ESPN credits the Gophers in part because: “Row the Boat transitioned into Throw the Ball.” This led to Morgan throwing for 3,253 yards with 30 TD to only 7 INT with a 66% completion percentage.
Add in not one, but TWO, 1,000 yard receivers in Tyler Johnson (1,318 yards, 13 TD) and Rashod Bateman (1,219 yards, 11 TD) and it was the perfect storm for the Gophers. Hell, Bateman and Morgan were even listed as two of the top-10 players in the Big Ten for 2020.
Yes, the team lost Johnson to the NFL this offseason. But with consistency at quarterback and coach, along with Bateman being named a preseason All-American, and there should not be a massive drop-off. With the potential addition of Nebraska-transfer J.D. Spielman, they could arguably be even better.
ROWING INTO 2020 AND BEYOND
With Fleck beginning to pull the Gophers into the upper ranks of recruiting, 2019 and 2020 shouldn’t be considered a flash in the pan. Sure, Fleck will likely lose both Morgan and Bateman to the NFL next year. Both are considered first round prospects by some pundits. But with his newfound excellence in recruiting and a weak Big Ten West, expect the program to continue to excel.
Even if the recruits do not pan out, 2020 should provide insight into how the program can be run. Fleck has been able to lift programs from the doldrums to success in a short span of time.
Expect an exciting 2020 from the Gophers. It could happen with or without fans and with or without a shortened season. They are poised to repeat their 2019 success with the Fleck-Morgan chemistry, and players are expected to make strides.
Let’s just say that this team is…ELITE!
Jack Kewitsch | Minnesota Sports Fan