PJ Fleck and Tanner Morgan Expect Gopher Football to “Grow Higher” in 2020

Gopher Football is expecting to “grow higher” (like bamboo) in 2020. At least, that’s the new mantra the team has adopted for the upcoming season. You can listen to PJ Fleck’s breakdown on how it fits, below. Essentially, bamboo takes a few years to fester underground, at which time, it quickly blasts through the surface, into 100 ft of one of the strongest natural material on earth.

I’ll let you put that puzzle together. The question on 2020’s mantra was posed at the 03:45 mark of PJ’s video, directly below. Some other takeaways are mentioned underneath that, along with Tanner Morgan’s press conference video.

After some jokes to start the presser, about new Australian punter Mark Crawford, PJ’s first question was about the starting QB position and whether or not he considered Tanner Morgan his starter.

PJ answered it flawlessly, reminding us that he doesn’t name starters in the spring…. but that Tanner Morgan was set to get all of the 1st-team reps. This was mostly a given, but Zack Annexstad was favored to win the job last year out of camp, before injury took that away.

First of all, I think Tanner Morgan has earned the 1st-team reps, period… in terms of spring. I think if you asked Tanner, Zack, Cole or Jacob… they all want an opportunity, and everyone is going to get an opportunity. I think that’s what this program is about…

But, I think when you look at what Tanner has done and the body of work over a period of time…. what he’s done for this institution, what he’s done for this football program… what he does with the leadership role he has, he’s earned those 1st-team reps in the spring.

If you ask Tanner Morgan, as humble of a kid as he is, ‘are you the starter’, he’s gonna say ‘I’ve got to go earn it and I wouldn’t have it any other way.’

It’s gonna be a very competitive spring and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

PJ Fleck – Press Conference video embedded above

Tanner Morgan answers this question himself in his portion of this press conference but it surprises nobody, that Tanner is expected to be the starter, unless something crazy happens. If that wasn’t the case, he probably isn’t the only guy PJ brings with him for this press conference.

After more explanation for this season’s mantra, PJ got into his new coaching hires which includes a new OC (Mike Sanford), new DL coach (Chad Wilt), DB coach (Paul Haines).

He went in-depth on how much control of the offense Sanford will have and also how blown away he and Joe Rossi were by Chad Wilt’s interview. PJ finished this segment off by saying that this is the best coaching room he has ever had, which some from Penn State could take offense too, if they are as sensitive as we Gopher fans are…

I think this is the best staff I’ve had and I told them that.

PJ Fleck – Press Conference video embedded above

New names to look for:

When asked about how the Gophers will look on defense, after the departure of so many key guys. PJ touches on a few different guys to look for, and who look different to him in many facets, now that they will be relied upon more.

Lastly, PJ is asked about how last year’s winning season has benefitted recruiting. He took this opportunity to tell everyone that winning gives them a better chance of getting into some doors and keep guys committed, but that winning isn’t going to change the type of people the Gophers recruit and eventually bring in.

You have to be a boat-rower to play football at the University of Minnesota, no matter how good at football you are. Otherwise, you will want to blow your brains out before your first game… if you ever touch the field.

Tanner Morgan Takes the Podium:

Tanner is a PJ Fleck clone… with less energy for the media. He says the same things and he looks the same too. He might look even older than Fleck.

When asked about his new OC, Mike Sanford, Tanner talked a lot about how much they’ve been working to improve his footwork in the pocket. He made it seem like Sanford found some of his pocket presence last season downright sloppy.

I think one really big thing, is just cleaning up my feet. A lot of times, I was really sloppy, just kind of moving around a lot. There’s a lot of ways I can get better and that progresses to pocket movement.

There was a lot of times where I walked into sacks where maybe I could have gotten out, if I stepped here or I created false pressure… so that’s one area that we’ve really been working at or we noticed when we watched the film

Tanner Morgan – Press Conference video above

Tanner also talked about Chris Autman-Bell emerging this year and how much confidence Chris has in himself. He’s been waiting for this opportunity and I expect a monster year out of the redshirt junior.

He stanned for Tyler Johnson too, as he goes through his offseason, getting ready for the draft.

Personally, I’ll be interested to see how this team looks as things get rolling. They have a lot of returning pieces but they’ve lost many important guys too. As the team grows up early on, we might need to pray they are able to keep it together for the non-conference schedule like they did last year, before they find their footing for the main conference schedule.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan