Gophers Insider Expects PJ Fleck to Air it Out Like Never Before with New QB

NCAA Football: Quick Lane Bowl-Bowling Green at Minnesota
Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota Gophers head coach PJ Fleck has faced criticism in recent seasons for his heavy reliance on the running game, often not trusting his quarterback. While this strategy has had its moments of success, I think PJ Fleck knows the need for a more modern approach moving forward.

With transfer quarterback Max Brosmer joining from New Hampshire, where passing the ball up to 35-40… even 50 times in a game was commonplace, Fleck seems to have finally realized that the Minnesota offense needs to adapt in this ever-changing college football landscape.

Minnesota Gophers to increase passing in 2024 with Max Brosmer?

Gopher football insider and recruiting expert, Ryan Burns (247Sports), projected on his “Gopher Gridiron” podcast (26:40 mark) that the Gophers offense will pass more with Brosmer under center than they ever have before, with PJ Fleck as head coach… and that means far more than the Kill/Claeys regime before him too. — quote transcribed below

“I think in what is it, year eight now, with the PJ Fleck era, this Max Brosmer-led offense is going to throw more times this year than any other year in the Fleck era.”… “If you want to hope and dream on something, I do truly believe that this Gopher football offense will throw more in 2024 than any other year in the Fleck era. Now, it’s not saying a whole lot, but if they just throw 25-27 times a game, it’s a whole heck of a lot more than we’ve seen in other years.”

Ryan Burns – Gopher Gridiron

Max Brosmer threw the football a total of 459 times last season at New Hampshire. When you divide that by 11 games played (A+ math student), it averages out to 41.7 passes per game. He even hit 60 vs Rhode Island.

at Stonehill1925076.0%284569
at Central Michigan3251162.7%493480
at Delaware3559059.3%404256
at Stony Brook2839071.8%335457
at Rhode Island4160068.3%430236
at Monmouth2845162.2%239236
UNH Wildcats Football

In 2023, the Gophers threw it 40 or more times just twice. They threw it UNDER 20 times in SIX games, something Brosmer never did once last season. As a redshirt sophomore in 2022, he passed 32.3 times per game, nowhere near his 42 last year, but still far more than what’s been taking place in Dinkytown.

The numbers above that would be unprecedented in a PJ Fleck offense, where the Gophers peaked at 26.6 passes per game WAAAAY back in 2018. You might recall the memorable 2019 season, easily the best season of Fleck’s tenure and probably the best season in modern Minnesota Gophers football history.

Former QB Tanner Morgan broke all sorts of school passing records that year, in what felt like an air raid offense, compared to what we have seen of late, back when Minnesota had Rashod Bateman and Tyler Johnson out wide. Yeah, they only passed 24.8 times per game that season.

Minnesota Gophers passes per game under PJ Fleck

  • 2017 – 19.4
  • 2018 – 26.6
  • 2019 – 24.8
  • 2020 – 26.3
  • 2021 – 19.8
  • 2022 – 21.6
  • 2023 – 24.0

Sports Reference

So… something has to give, right? When Max Brosmer, who is accustomed to slinging the ball all over the place, lands in an offense that hates slinging the ball? Well, kind of. Sometimes, it’s more about the “why” than it is the “how”.

First, it’s important to note that a PJ Fleck offense will never be an air-raid style. He likes to run the ball and control the clock. He learned it from Jim Tressel at Ohio State and it’s built into who he is as a football coach.

Related: Hometown Former Gophers Basketball Player is Going Pro… in Boxing

But you couple that with a lack of talent at the QB position, since he arrived, and it’s a recipe for a non-passing disaster. Athan Kaliakmanis was supposed to be the quarterback who changed all that and he was a massive failure, whoever’s fault it was.

How can you throw throw throw when your QB only throws it at a 53% clip? That’s how a quarterback start 12 games in a 2024 college football season and only throw for 1800 yards. By only completing half your passes, and throwing nearly as many interceptions (9) as touchdowns (14).

So answer me this… would you trust that QB to throw the ball 30 or 40 times? Exactly, so PJ Fleck sure as hell wasn’t going to. But that’s where Brosmer brings a fresh dynamic to the Gophers’ offense. Not only is he prolific, but he is accurate and makes smart decisions.

Burns’ podcast partner, in between his quotes above, noted that Brosmer looked like a “checkdown artist” during the one practice he saw. I take that as a good thing, especially with PJ Fleck paying close attention. Brosmer will only be here for one season and he needs to quickly prove that he should have the full green light to throw the ball, when times get tough.

Related: Gopher Football 2024 Recruiting Class Breaks into National Top-10

That means proving that he will make the right decision under pressure, a trust that very few QBs have earned. But there is no doubt Fleck and his staff know, in order to keep up in this new Big Ten, which includes historically high powered offenses like Oregon and USC, his offense needs to throw the ball more and score more points.

Along with that will have to come a new willingness to air it out. There’s really no QB better to transition Fleck to a new mindset than Max Brosmer, a hyper accurate veteran QB best known for his good decision making skills. Now, it’s just about time to see if that’s how reality actually unfolds.

Mentioned in this article:

More About: