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Minnesota Football shut out in AP Poll, plus other news and notes

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Gophers look to eclipse expectations this season

NCAA Football: Holiday Bowl-Minnesota vs Washington State Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

News

The total eclipse was a bit of a disappointment in Minnesota yesterday, as heavy cloud cover masked the moon's big moment. So it is with Minnesota football. The Golden Gophers didn't pick up a single vote in 2017's inaugural AP Top 25 poll (Judd Zulgad, ESPN1500).

For Blake Cashman, 2016 was a party of sorts. He ended the season with a stellar bowl game performance against Washington State (12 tackles) and the title of defensive MVP. In 2017, Cashman had shoulder surgery and missed spring practice, but so far, he’s shown enough flexibility that he could play either linebacker or defensive back (Joe Christensen, Minneapolis Star Tribune).

Leidner Island lives on! Former Minnesota quarterback Mitch Leidner was working for Bite Squad where he sometimes delivered food to Andrew Sendejo. Now he might be playing with Sendejo after the Minnesota Vikings signed Moose on Sunday (Chris Tomasson, St Paul Pioneer Press).

Being PJ

Wake up, Gophers! But this might be the silver lining for Minnesota. The team won nine games last year, but expectations for PJ Fleck's first season are low, and that's just how Fleck likes it. In his view, the Gophers are college football’s sleeping giant and he hopes to win big here (A.J. Perez, USA Today).

Is he for real? As sports fans in Minnesota, we’re conditioned by long years of disappointment to be wary of “the next big thing.” But Fleck’s energy and positive message have made it easy for players and members of the community to embrace him and his rhetoric, even if the rest of the college football world remains skeptical (Myron Medcalf, ESPN).

A can of Redbull in a Gopher hoodie: this may be the most apt description of Fleck to date, but it comes in an article that likens him to Jim Harbaugh, and therefore, meh (Alex Kirshner, SB Nation

Bottom line: has Fleck’s arrival in Minneapolis fattened the U’s bank accounts? Yes, but only with goodwill and viral interest, not so much with actual cash. The Gophers have only sold 1,430 new season tickets since Fleck was hired. That may not have met expectations, but it’s more than the 600 new tickets purchased in the 2016 season (JoeC, STrib).

And now for something different...

For Gopher Sarah Potomak, hockey is a family affair. The junior has four brothers who play hockey, and also a sister, Amy, 18, who plays for the JWHL’s Steelers. Sarah and Amy are currently both vying for a spot on Canada’s Olympics squad. If they both make the team, they will be the first ever sisters to play for Team Canada at the Olympics (Donne Spencer, Canadian Press).