COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Putting the ‘catastrophic’ behind them, Gophers quickly move on to Wisconsin rivalry game
MINNEAPOLIS -- The University of Minnesota football team worked quickly to move on from Saturday’s 13-10 loss to Iowa, holding a brief five-minute team meeting Sunday.
“They know,” head coach P.J. Fleck said of his players. “When you have such an emotional game like that and it comes down to that, you want to move on as fast as possible. So that is exactly what we did.”
Minnesota (7-4, 4-4 Big Ten) moves on to another rivalry game this week, against Wisconsin (6-5, 4-4) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium.
Fleck lamented the “catastrophic” mistakes in the fourth quarter against Iowa: running back Mo Ibrahim’s fumble, quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis’ interception and cornerback Terell Smith’s dropped pick.
Wisconsin’s next move?
The Badgers fired coach Paul Chryst in early October and promoted defensive coordinator Jim Leonard to interim head coach. The coaching search led by Athletics Director Chris McIntosh hasn’t made any clear movement.
Leonard, who is 4-2 at his alma mater in his interim role, is a bit restless.
“I think, hopefully, within the near future there’s an answer,” Leonard was quoted by the Wisconsin State Journal, “because the longer it takes, the harder it gets to ask people to be patient because there’s huge deadlines coming up with our current roster and decision they have to make. …
“The longer it takes, the harder it becomes to ask for that patience.”
Ibrahim was named Big Ten offensive player of the week on Monday for his career-high 263 rushing yards on 39 carries in the Iowa loss. He nearly carried Minnesota to a late win before a fourth-quarter fumble.
Ibrahim is second in the nation with 1,524 rushing yards and first in the country with 19 rushing touchdowns. He leads the nation with 152 yards per game.
The NCAA transfer portal opens Dec. 5, and Fleck continues to anticipate the “wildest” period of player movement since it opened in 2018.
The NCAA no longer limits the number of signed players in each recruiting class at 25. The Gophers had 16 players participate in Senior Day on Saturday, and they currently have 17 high school players lined up to make it official in the early signing period on Dec. 21.
Fleck said he wouldn’t know how much Minnesota might exceed 25 newcomers until after he conducts individual meetings with current players after the Wisconsin game.
Gophers add Texas prep defensive lineman
The Gophers football program received a commitment Sunday from defensive tackle Theo Randle, a three-star, 6-foot-1, 280-pound prospect from Pearland, Texas.
Randle de-committed from Washington State on Oct. 27 and had a collection of other offers, but no Power Five Conference schools. He had a visit to Minnesota this fall.
Randle, also an edge rusher, has 52 tackles and eight sacks as a junior at Shadow Creek, a Class 6A high school south of Houston.
Minnesota has 17 commitments in the 2023 class, with the early signing period starting Dec. 21. The U’s other defensive tackle pledge is Martin Owusu of Prior Lake.
Wisconsin star running back Braylon Allen exited the 15-14 win over Nebraska on Saturday with an ankle injury. He has also had arm/shoulder injuries this year. The sophomore is 18th in the nation with an average of 102 yards per game in 11 games. … Fleck was hopeful quarterback Tanner Morgan can return to practice this week. The sixth-year senior has missed the past two and a half games with an upper-body injury. … The Badgers are a 3.5-point favorite for Saturday’s game, which will air on ESPN.
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