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Minnesota Football: Spring Position Preview - Quarterback

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Let the wild rumpus start!

NCAA Football: Minnesota at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

I say, “SPRING,” you say, “POSITION PREVIEWS!”

I say, “SPRING,” you say, “POSITION PREVIEWS!”

That’s right. The hiatus is over. Football is back! Well, the spring version of football, at least. And in the weeks leading up to the Minnesota Golden Gophers’ spring game at 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 13, at TCF Bank Stadium, we’ll be breaking down each position group.

Key Departure(s): None
Key Returner(s): Zack Annexstad and Tanner Morgan
Early Enrollee(s): Jacob Clark and Cole Kramer

Zack is back! Annexstad returns after starting the first seven games of his true freshman season. Before he was sidelined with a bad ankle and an internal midsection injury, Annexstad was something of a mixed bag under center, completing nearly 52 percent of his passes for 1,277 passing yards, nine touchdowns, and seven interceptions. He was also sacked 16 times due to an offensive line that had yet to be blessed with the mammoth presence of Daniel Faalele, which obviously had an adverse affect on Annexstad’s health and performance.

Can Annexstad learn from the freshman mistakes of last season and re-claim the starting position now that he is healthy again? He’ll also need to prove that he can play how he practices. It was clear from fall camp last year that Annexstad had outperformed Tanner Morgan on the practice field, but the aspects of his game that were exemplary in practice — his accuracy on deep passes, in particular — left much to be desired when translated to game action.

Morgan will be his chief competition after starting the final six games of the season and leading the Gophers to a 4-2 record over that stretch, including dominant victories over Purdue, Wisconsin, and Georgia Tech. The redshirt freshman was an effective game manager, completing nearly 59 percent of his passes for 1,401 passing yards, nine touchdowns, and six interceptions. He was solid but not spectacular, not that the Gophers needed him to be as redshirt freshman running back Mohamed Ibrahim became the driving force on offense.

But don’t count out true freshmen Jacob Clark and Cole Kramer.

Clark is 6’5’’, making him the tallest quarterback on the roster, so he certainly has the size. But he has also been praised for his arm strength and ability to throw a variety of different passes, adjusting the touch and velocity as needed. Kramer has a similar skill set, but without the benefit of a prototypical frame. He is an accurate passer with excellent ball placement, both on short and intermediate passes and down the field. Kramer seems to have more mobility than Clark.

With four scholarship quarterbacks vying for the starting spot, all eyes will be on this competition throughout the spring and into fall camp.

Next: Running Back