MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Gophers football coach P.J. Fleck has planted a seed of doubt for opposing teams this season: What is Seth Green?
Minnesota wants the 6-foot-4, 240-pound redshirt junior to be viewed a chameleon.
What the U doesn’t want is Green to be seen as just a wildcat quarterback, a role he had success in for the first time in 2018.
Minnesota doesn’t want Big Ten teams to easily adjust their defensive schemes to gear up to stop the bruising, downhill rusher, who lost yardage on only one of his 76 rushing attempts a year ago.
They want to steer opponents away from seeing Green’s No. 17 come onto the field and counter with different personnel to better stop the run or shift their alignment by putting another defender in the box.
“All of a sudden,” Fleck outlined, “He is playing quarterback one play and wideout the next play and tight end the next play. It’s hard to be able to say (No.) 17 is in and (go) to our wildcat check. It keeps people honest.”
Out of East Ridge High School — with a quick detour to Allen, Texas — Green came to Minnesota as a quarterback recruit. He played one game there in 2017, but just handed the ball off at the end of the blowout win over Middle Tennessee State.
He switched to tight end in spring practice 2018 and then receiver last fall, before the wildcat wrinkle was introduced in last year’s season-opening victory over New Mexico State.
But now that Zack Annexstad is set to have surgery on his right foot surgery Wednesday and possibly miss all of the 2019 regular season, Green has spent more time at quarterback.
That mean’s studying up in the U’s quarterback meeting room and practicing there on Tuesday. During the open-to-media portion of practice, Green was seen throwing passes with other traditional QBs during a goal-line drill. He then turned around and played receiver.
Fleck told Green that playing QB was like “riding a bike.”
“He kind of looked at me and was like, ‘Really? Riding a bike is a little bit easier than playing quarterback,’ ” Fleck said Tuesday. “He went back out there and made it look that easy. He has been playing wideout for the last six months and keeping the wildcat in his back pocket.”
The wildcat formation came out of the Gophers’ sleeve during the season opener against New Mexico State. Green rushed twice — and scored touchdowns both times.
Against Fresno State, Green had a season-high 11 rushes for 30 yards and two touchdowns, adding a two-point conversion pass to tight end Ko Kieft.
In the final nonconference game against Miami (Ohio), he rushed four times for 15 yards. And he completed a 7-yard touchdown pass — albeit without much zip — to Tyler Johnson. The threat of him throwing the ball had been planted going into Big Ten play.
While Green had 76 rushes across all 13 games, he had only five pass attempts. He threw an interception against Iowa and added a second touchdown versus Purdue. He added two receptions.
During the season, the U promoted the wildcat package as “The Green Line.”
“It was cool,” Green said of the nickname. “I enjoyed it. It was lots of fun.”
But the fact that the Gophers used the package as much as they did caught Green off guard.
“I thought it was definitely going to be a special-circumstance type of thing,” Green said. “I didn’t know it was going to be normal for most games. It was a blessing to be in that position, where I could help the team out in whatever way I could.”
While the disparity of run to pass grew as the The Green Line rolled along, Seth didn’t necessary advocate to throw the ball more.
“It was just getting the best play,” Green said. “If they were loading the box or something, and we had shown in a previous game or in film, I would definitely advocate to throw it because it’s open.”
Green was able to find openings for 282 rushing yards, 36 passing yards and 37 receiving yards last year. His 10 total touchdowns (eight rushing, two passing) was tied for second on the team.