P.J. Fleck is making it sound like redshirt senior Conor Rhoda is the early frontrunner to start at quarterback for the Gophers.
"You look at Conor Rhoda's doing a tremendous job of picking everything up. Is he where he’s going to be? No way," Fleck said after the third spring practice Wednesday. "We are so far away from being an elite football team right now. But he’s picking up the offense. He has command of the offense. He’s learning how to be a leader on the offense, how to be an elite quarterback, in terms of running the offense the way he needs to run it."
Fleck said Demry Croft and Tanner Morgan are "doing a nice job." Less than a month ago Fleck said Morgan, a true freshman from Kentucky, will have a chance to start, according to the Pioneer Press.
Fleck did not mention the four others on the roster: Seth Green, Ray Estes, Neil McLaurin and Samuel Pickerign.
Green stands out because it wasn't too long ago that he was a five-star recruit headed to Oregon. That all fell apart when he was a backup quarterback during his senior season of high school in Texas and he ultimately flipped his commitment to Minnesota.
QBs will separate with time
It's too early to name a starter and only 25 percent of the offense has been installed, Fleck said. Now he wants to see some separation.
"Football’s a game of situations. It’s not just plays. It’s not just practice. Now you’ve got to play the game," Fleck said. "We’ve already played a few times. You saw the last two periods of us getting off the field, guys going out there and playing it. We have to do that a lot more. Especially with a lot of quarterbacks without much experience."
Gophers like local QBs
Rhoda, a Cretin-Derham Hall alum, was the backup to Mitch Leidner last season. His only collegiate start came early last season in a 31-10 win over Maryland. Rhoda went 7 for 15 for 82 yards and a touchdown.
If Rhoda is the guy, he'll be the most recent in what's becoming a pretty long list of Minnesota high school graduates to start for the Gophers.
- 2007-2010: Adam Weber, Mounds View
- 2012-2013: Phillip Nelson, Mankato West
- 2014-2016: Mitch Leidner, Lakeville North
The only year in the last decade the Gophers didn't have a local guy start at quarterback was MarQueis Gray in 2011. Max Shortell also got a few starts in 2012, but Nelson was the primary option that year.
If Rhoda is the starter, you can bet Fleck's "Row the Boat" catchphrase will become "Rho-da boat." Hat tip The Daily Gopher for that one.