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PJ Fleck hasn't decided on starting QB for upcoming Gopher season

Fall camp is underway and the QB battle has started again.

As much hype as there is about the 2019 Gopher football team, there still isn't a clear answer for who the starting quarterback will be. 

At a press conference Tuesday, head coach P.J. Fleck said the Gophers will again enter fall camp with Tanner Morgan and Zack Annexstad splitting first-team reps. But he also didn't rule out freshmen Cole Kramer (Eden Prairie) and Jacob Clarke (Texas) getting a chance to win the job. 

“To start, it’s 50/50,” Fleck said.“I even say 50/50 for the other quarterbacks, too. They’re going to get just as many reps as Tanner and Zack. So, everybody has an opportunity.”

Morgan and Annexstad split time as the starting QB a year ago. Morgan threw for 1,401 yards and nine touchdowns while Annexstad had 1,277 yards and nine touchdowns. 

Both played in nine games, with the Gophers winning four of six games started by Morgan and three of seven when Annexstad started. 

Whoever wins the job will have some big-time weapons as a supporting cast. All-Big Ten wide receiver Tyler Johnson returns for his senior season after finishing 2018 with 78 receptions for 1,169 yards and 12 touchdowns. 

They'll also get to throw to a bulked up sophomore wide receiver, Rashad Bateman. As a freshman, Bateman weighed 179 pounds and is now closer to 200 pounds. He finished last season with 51 catches for 704 yards and six touchdowns. 

There's also Chris Autman-Bell (28 catches, 449 yards) and Demetrius Douglas (9 catches, 87 yards), who is in his second year back after tearing his ACL as a freshman in 2017, not to mention dynamic running back depth with Rodney Smith, Mohamed Ibrahim, Shannon Brooks and Bryce Williams. 

Sporting News has picked the Gophers to finish sixth in the Big Ten West, but also calls them a sleeper to win the division. 

"The Gophers have the friendliest crossover schedule in the division, and P.J. Fleck built momentum last season by ending the 14-year losing streak against Wisconsin. Running back Mohamed Ibrahim and receiver Tyler Johnson are back. Now, Minnesota must show more consistency."

The media sees it the same way, with writers predicting Minnesota will finish sixth in the west: 

  1. Nebraska
  2. Iowa
  3. Wisconsin
  4. Northwestern
  5. Purdue
  6. Minnesota
  7. Illinois

The Gophers open the season Aug. 29 at home against South Dakota State. 

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