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BIG 10 FOOTBALL MEDIA DAY: A year later, Nebraska coach Scott Frost skips past Gophers rivalry

Per the schedule, Frost went to the dais before Gophers coach PJ Fleck on Tuesday, and Frost didn’t offer any opening statement, going straight to questions from reporters.

NCAA Football: Big Ten Media Days
Nebraska head coach Scott Frost talks to the media during Big 10 football media days Tuesday, July 26, 2022, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Robert Goddin / USA Today Sports
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INDIANAPOLIS — A seed of rivalry was planted when Nebraska coach Scott Frost followed University of Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck at the podium at Big Ten Media Days in July 2021.

“I’m not into sloganeering,” Frost said at Lucas Oil Stadium, an apparent shot at Fleck’s “Row The Boat” mantra.

That seed germinated after Minnesota’s 30-24 victory over Nebraska at Huntington Bank Stadium, when Fleck seemed to retort to Frost: “That was truly culture versus skill.”

No fertilizer was added at this year’s Big Ten Media Days on Tuesday.

Per the schedule, Frost went to the dais before Fleck, and Frost didn’t offer any opening statement, going straight to questions from reporters.

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Two key position battles

The Gophers linebacker spot next to Mariano Sori-Marin and the U’s right offensive tackle position will be two of the “big competitions of camp,” Fleck said.

At linebacker, Fleck mentioned Braelen Oliver, Josh Aune and Cody Lindenberg as candidates. At tackle, Fleck said Martes Lewis “did a great job in spring for us” and mentioned Notre Dame transfer Quinn Carroll and JJ Guedet at that spot.

“It will be a great competition among those three,” Fleck said.

Wright’s ability

Gophers receiver Dylan Wright has done the offseason work to build on his 18-reception, 365-yard, two-touchdown season in 2021, Fleck shared.

“I’ve watched him work,” Fleck said. “I’ve known he’s done all the un-required stuff to do it. … He’s embracing the process of growth.”

MORE MINNESOTA GOPHERS COVERAGE:
Minnesota showed in Saturday’s 34-7 rout at Michigan State that even if the early schedule was soft, the team is not. The outcome of the Gophers’ Big Ten opener in East Lansing has more outsiders taking notice.
Victory marked first time Minnesota won in East Lansing since 2009
The 27-point win over the Spartans was Minnesota's closest game this season.
Minnesota travels to Michigan State to open up Big Ten play on Saturday
Minnesota is collecting data on how much players are exerting on the field and when they might be on the verge of an injury
Minnesota (3-0) heads into the Big Ten opener against Michigan State (2-1) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Mich.
Autman-Bell accounted for 23% of the Gophers’ targets through 3 weeks
Geary will be part of a group of wideouts asked to step up as No. 1 pass-catching target Chris Autman-Bell was lost to a season-ending leg injury against the Buffaloes.
In the first half of Saturday’s 49-7 victory over Colorado, Autman-Bell landed awkwardly after trying to adjust to an off-target throw from Tanner Morgan. Visibly distraught, Autman-Bell needed assistance to leave the field and went to a hospital for further tests.
Minnesota has been all business against three incredibly weak programs: arguably the worst Division I outfit in New Mexico State, a rebuilding FCS team in Western Illinois and possibly the worst Power Five program in Pac-12 member Colorado. Those three teams are a combined 0-10 this season.

During one spring practice, Wright made an incredible catch that fired up Fleck and confused Wright, thinking his head coach might be mad at him. “I was talking very firmly about how good he can be and why doesn’t this happen all the time,” Fleck said.

The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Texas A&M transfer is “one of the most pure, athletic guys I’ve coached at that position,” said Fleck, who has had elite receivers Rashod Bateman, Corey Davis and Tyler Johnson under his wing.

Hungry for a quote

A Madison-based reporter asked Gophers center John Michael Schmitz: “What’s the first thing that pops into your head when you hear the word Wisconsin?”

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“Culver’s,” the 6-foot-2, 300-pound lineman responded.

At the Wisconsin-headquartered fast food joint, Schmitz said he switches his order between chicken tenders or a burger, “always gets the cheese curds” and a concrete mixer, a version of a thick ice cream shake.

Briefly

No Minnesota players are expected to be out with injuries as preseason camp opens in Dinkytown next Monday, Fleck said. Receiver Lemeke Brockington will be limited, and the university will be “careful” with Guedet, who missed most of spring ball with an undisclosed injury. … The university’s kids football camp has grown to more than 340 participants this year, up from 60 in Fleck’s first year as coach in 2017. … Minnesota Twins radio play-by-play broadcaster Cory Provus and former Gophers safety Brock Vereen are part of Big Ten Network’s roster of commentators for this season.

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