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Minnesota Football: View PJ Fleck’s Preseason Press Conference

Coach Fleck gives injury updates and a look at fall camp

NCAA Football: Big Ten Media Days Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

In case you didn’t hear, yesterday was Fall Camp Media Day for Gopher Football. Gopher Head Coach PJ Fleck answered questions for his pre-fall camp press conference, and the media also heard from Rodney Smith, Steven Richardson, Blake Cashman, Jared Weyler, Jonathan Celestin, and Shannon Brooks.

Below is a recording of Coach Fleck’s press conference:

Here are some relevant tidbits from Fleck’s responses.

  • The QB battle is still wide open. Fleck did say he would not keep his decision a secret once he knows who will start the opener. As he so eloquently put it, “Secrets, secrets are no fun, secrets, secrets, hurt someone”
  • There will be a few players who are still a bit limited injury-wise as camp begins Tuesday. One of those is Blake Cashman who is recovering from off-season shoulder surgery. Another will be sophomore cornerback Coney Durr who is making a miraculous recovery from tearing his acl in the Holiday Bowl. Fleck did say both players should be ready to go for full contact by August 10th or so and should be ready to start the season.
  • Rashad Still and Tyler Johnson will be the #1 and #2 wide receivers to start the season, but the battle for the #3 spot is wide open. Fleck said any of the incoming freshmen will have as good a chance as any to win that job.
  • Fleck also said that the football program is using yoga a lot more for relaxation and for stretching and flexibility to attempt to prevent injuries.

The soundbites from the Gopher players were interesting as well:

  • Rodney Smith says he is up to 210 pounds and feels as good as he ever has coming into a season. He also let it slip that the majority of the Gopher offense will be run from the pistol and shotgun rather than with a quarterback under center.
  • Steven Richardson said that he really worked on his hands in the offseason. He looked at video and realized just how slow he was with his hands to shed off blocks. He said he is double teamed about 95% of the time and so he needs to take advantage of the times he is not and make plays.
  • Blake Cashman said his shoulders feel great, but he will slowly work into practice as he hasn’t hit since the Holiday Bowl. He said he does not know 100% where he will fit in the Gopher defense this fall, but some of what he is being asked to do looks familiar. He is still trying to catch up after missing spring practice.
  • Jared Weyler said he still does not know whether he will slot into center or guard when the season starts but will play wherever the coaching staff wants him to play. He says the coaches have said they will evaluate him beginning tomorrow and make a decision. he says he is 100% ready to go after off-season surgery.
  • Jon Celestin said he is ready to go. Looking forward to being a leader on the defense. He said incoming freshman Demetrius Douglass has really impressed several of the older players this summer with his effort and talent.
  • Shannon Brooks said he wants to try and get up to 2015 pounds and stay there during the season. He was excited that the Gophers will be a lot more aggressive in short yardage situations compared to a year ago.

The Gophers begin fall practice on Tuesday as they prepare to open the season against the Buffalo Bulls four weeks from Thursday.