Tanner Morgan Has To Be QB1 for 2020 Season

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With the Penn State game 12 days away, I’m trying to keep my erection from lasting nearly two weeks, because I’ve been told > 4 hours with a stiff board is a bad thing… so I’m occupying my time with a major hypothetical for the 2020 season (after we make a college football playoff appearance according to a KFAN caller today): Once Zack Annexstad is fully-healthy and he’s had the offseason to get back up to speed, is Tanner Morgan still a lock to start ahead of him?

Before you jump down my throat, on how I could even talk about someone else taking the helm at QB, for the Maroon and Gold, with Tanner still on the roster; let’s remember that we are only a few months out from Tanner being the consensus backup, behind Zack Annexstad. We’re also only a little over a year since Zack won the job, as a Freshman, in 2018 (before eventually losing it)

Going into August, PJ Fleck hadn’t picked his QB1 yet but before Zack got hurt, insiders all over Gopher Football had Tanner riding the pine behind Annexstad. I did. Ryan Burns did. Just about everyone who follows the team, had the QB battle tracking in Zack Annexstad’s favor. Then he went down, and Tanner took the ball and never looked back. The guy has been absolutely phenomenal. Nobody was overly worried about him taking over, because the race was so close before Zack’s injury occurred and because of how well he did when he took over last season.

Let’s take a look at Tanner Morgan, as a quarterback for our favorite UNDEFEATED college football team.

In his redshirt freshman season, Tanner was thrust into a blowout loss vs Nebraska and then inserted as the starting QB for the rest of the season. In those 6 games, he went 4-2 while leading the Gophers to a statement victory in Wisconsin and a bowl win vs Georgia Tech. Here were his stats for 2018 and then his comparative stats for this season (via sports-reference.com/cfb).

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Tanner Morgan 2018 Statistics: 89/152 | 58% | 1401 YDS | 9 TD | 6 INT | 157.6 PER

Tanner Morgan 2019 Statistics: 113/173| 65% | 1761 YDS | 18 TD | 4 INT | 180.5 PER

If you are looking for improvement, out of your quarterback, from year 1 to year 2… you can’t ask for much more than what Tanner Morgan has done. As you can see, he has improved his completion percentage by 7 points and with that, he has doubled his touchdowns and cut his interceptions down by 33.3%. That’s really fucking impressive. But those improved stats haven’t just shown themselves in the boxscores. They have also led the Gophers to an 8-0 start for the first time since 1941.¬†Want more “W” numbers? Tanner Morgan is 12-2 as the Gophers’ starting quarterback and that 12-2 record is the best stretch the team has had since 1947-1949, when the team won their last game in ’47, went 7-2 in ’48, and then won their first 4 games of the ’49 season.

So, I started this blog by giving Zack Annexstad the benefit of the doubt, since he was the favorite to win the job in 2019, before he got injured. But since then, I’ve done nothing but convince myself (and hopefully you) that there will be no QB battle next season (as long as nothing crazy happens with injuries or regression from Tanner). The job has to be Morgan’s entering camp. If Annexstad plays so well that he works his way into that conversation, then that can only mean good things for us, because I don’t see a major regression from Tanner. His mindset doesn’t seem to allow for that. He is an even-keeled, and week-to-week mind. He doesn’t get too high or too low, which he has already proven on both sides (after losing the QB job in 2018 and now rising to the sure-starter in 2019 –> FUTURE).

This is Tanner’s job unless somebody rips it away from him. Hopefully someone plays well enough to make that a conversation… but I doubt it. If Tanner continues to improve, the sky is his limit and that will be all PJ Fleck and Co. needs from him.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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