Early look at Michigan’s first opponent, Minnesota: PJ Fleck shy about COVID-19 team numbers
Jim Harbaugh said on Monday that The Michigan football team currently has no positive cases of COVID-19, but we don’t know if the same can be said of his Week 1 opponent.
Minnesota head coach PJ Fleck was asked on Monday if any of his players would be out on Saturday against the Wolverines (7:30 p.m., ABC), but was timid in his response.
“I mean I don’t have an estimate because I know that number, but I’m just not going to tell you,” Fleck said in a video press conference. “There are a lot of reasons for this, but this is how it will play out all year round, and there are no excuses. We have to be able to find a way. Our team has known this since day one in March. We said the same thing before anyone came out. Whether it’s through opt-out, injury or COVID, we’ve said the same thing. Whoever finds a way to do it better for longer. We’re going to need the whole football team.
Staff and players are tested daily in the Big Ten and must test negative the day before and the day of a game. Any player who tests positive must be absent from competition for at least 21 days, according to Big Ten protocols.
“Is it sometimes a little scary to know who’s going to play, who isn’t playing, who you’re giving the reps to, and then all of a sudden you find out Thursday or Friday that they can’t play for two or three? week? Yes it can be a little scary but you respond, “said Fleck.” You put your oar back in the water and you respond you do everything proactively to prepare and educate your team, the best you can can, that it is not, if it comes, is when it comes, I have to be ready. And if everyone adheres to it, you will have a chance to really succeed.
“Again, I don’t want you all to think we have 65 ‘released’ players right now. This is not what I am saying. I’m saying, overall, what might happen now, what might happen then, what might happen in six weeks.
If they’re 100 percent, the 21st-ranked Golden Gophers should be one of the Big Ten’s best teams again in 2020.
They fire quarterback Tanner Morgan, wide receiver Rashod Bateman, a scheduled 2021 first-round pick, and the five starting offensive linemen for last year’s squad that finished 11-2.
However, the offense could look different this season with a new offensive coordinator in Mike Sanford, coming from Utah State this season.
“Our attack is not exactly the same as last year,” said Fleck. “We are constantly evolving and constantly finding ways to improve it. Mike Sanford was really good for Tanner because Mike played the quarterback at a very high level (Boise State 2000-04). And when you play the position, you can coach the position. The fundamentals, the techniques, the little built-in parts of the quarterback and I think that really took Tanner to the next level.
Defensively, Minnesota have lost seven of their eight best tackles of 2019, but come back with Honorable Mention cornerback Benjamin St. Juste, a former Wolverine.
While Michigan struggled on the road against opponents ranked under Harbaugh, they have won the last 16 games against the Gophers in Minnesota.
The Wolverines have won eight of the last nine meetings, the last of which was in 2017 – Fleck’s first season in Minnesota.
“It’s a huge challenge for our football team and the first game played against defense like Don Brown and obviously a blueblood like University of Michigan, but that’s what makes it really fun and exciting too,” he said. said Fleck.
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