(KMSP) - The first year intro of PJ Fleck is over and so is the implementation process.
“Year one all you’re doing is learning, everything is brand new,” Gophers head coach said. “Year two, now it’s about doing the culture.”
Now it’s about picking up the pace in Fleck’s second season at Minnesota, and that started with spring camp on Tuesday.
Fleck is fired up for another year at the helm of Rowing the Boat at the U, but his optimism is countered by crushing news before the Gophers even get on the practice field.
The Gophers coach announced that star running back Shannon Brooks will not play again until 2019 after suffering a lower leg injury. Brooks’ loss adds to the challenge of 2018, but Fleck said it could open up opportunity for others on offense.
“Because one door closes doesn’t mean that it is the only door,” Fleck said. “We sit there and look during the season and say 'if that never happened then we would’ve never found out about this person.'”
The running back group is one question, and the Gophers still need an answer at quarterback.
Minnesota has a familiar name at QB in Seth Green, a successful transfer in Vic Viramontes and a talented freshman in Tanner Morgan, but none has NCAA Division I starting experience.
The unknown could make some anxious, but that’s not the case for Fleck.
“Whoever plays for us in the fall, that will be their first pass ever. That’s exciting to me,” Fleck said. “Everybody is going to have a shot.”
Yes, there are things to figure out for the fall with a young team. Almost 72 percent of the roster this season is comprised of sophomores and freshmen.
However, there will be no sitting around and waiting as the Gophers get going in spring drills.
“We have to want to play 12 games and want to play at this incredible level, and not think that we are ‘just freshmen’ and label ourselves that way,” Fleck said. “That’s going to have to be the theme of the whole year.”