MINNEAPOLIS - The University of Minnesota football team will host its annual Spring Game on Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium, putting a finish to a spring season that featured up to 14 practices.
The Gophers will field a Maroon team and a Gold team, with the winner taking Goldy’s Cup and one player being selected as the Sid Hartman Spring Game MVP. It will be the first Spring Game at TCF Bank Stadium since 2018. Last year’s event was canceled, as was the Gophers’ spring season, after three practices due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2019 game had to be moved to the team’s indoor facility due to snow and ice earlier in the week.
Here’s the details you need to know before Saturday’s game.
UP TO 10,000 FANS WILL BE AT TCF BANK STADIUM
The Gophers will have fans at Saturday’s Spring Game, in accordance with state COVID-19 guidelines as it pertains to outdoor events. Around 10,000 free tickets were recently released for the game, and they were claimed online in about two hours.
Not going to the game? You can still catch it on the radio, or on TV. The Spring Game will be broadcast live on KFAN Radio (100.3 FM), and live on Big Ten Network.
LINDSAY WHALEN, BEN JOHNSON ARE GUEST COACHES
P.J. Fleck leaning on a few of his head coaching colleagues to lead the Gophers’ sidelines on Saturday. Women’s basketball coach Lindsay Whalen will lead the Maroon team, and new men’s basketball coach Ben Johnson will lead the Gold team.
Whalen led the Gophers to their only Final Four in 2004, won four WNBA titles with the Minnesota Lynx and is an Olympic gold medalist. Johnson won two state championships at DeLaSalle, played three seasons with the Gophers and was an assistant coach for Richard Pitino before heading to Xavier. He was hired to replace Pitino on March 22.
Fleck said Whalen and Johnson will have several duties at the game, and each will deliver a pre-game speech to their team.
MAROON CAPTAINS ARE TANNER MORGAN, CONEY DURR
The Maroon team will be captained by a pair of veterans in quarterback Tanner Morgan and defensive back Coney Durr. Morgan will be entering his third season as a starter after throwing for 1,374 yards and seven touchdowns in seven games last season. Durr finished fourth on Minnesota’s defense last year with 29 tackles, including one tackle for a loss, one interception and five pass break-ups.
GOLD CAPTAINS ARE ZACK ANNEXSTAD, MO IBRAHIM, MARIANO SORI-MARIN
The Gold team is captained by Zack Annexstad, Mo Ibrahim and Mariano Sori-Marin. Annexstad played eight games in 2018 and threw for 1,277 yards with nine touchdowns. Ibrahim is back as the reigning Big Ten Running back of the Year after leading the conference in 2020 with 1,076 yards and 15 touchdowns. Sori-Marin led the Gophers’ defense with 54 tackles, 1.5 tackles for a loss, had three pass break-ups and forced one fumble in 2020.
MO IBRAHIM NOT EXPECTED TO PLAY
Don’t expect so Mo Ibrahim on the field Saturday. He’s been limited most of spring football, and is unlikely to play in the Spring Game as he is observing Ramadan, which requires fasting from sun up to sun down.
DONATE DIAPERS, BRING DECORATED OARS
Fans coming to TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday are encouraged to bring diapers, and decorated oars. The Gophers are hosting their annual diaper drive, and fans should bring a box of diapers that will be donated to a local family in need. Fans should also bring oars that will be placed in the tunnel between the Minnesota locker room and the field. They will be mounted on the wall and are the last thing Gophers players and coaches see before taking the field. Oars are dedicated to those battling cancer, or are a memorial to those that have died from disease.
The Gophers are coming off a 3-4 season in 2020, altered by the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, Minnesota had a historic 11-2 season, capped with a win over Auburn in the Outback Bowl.