Gophers PJ Fleck on 3-game skid: 'Nobody is happy about the last 3 weeks'

The University of Minnesota football team is moving on from Saturday’s 45-17 loss at No. 16-ranked Penn State, now on a three-game losing streak with Rutgers coming to Minneapolis this week.

The Gophers look and feel like a completely different team than the one that started the Big Ten season with a dominating 34-7 win at Michigan State. They’re 4-3, 1-3 in the Big Ten and have five games left to make something of a highly-anticipated season.

At his weekly news conference on Monday, PJ Fleck said it’s about response and the team taking accountability.

"Nobody is happy about the performance, nobody is happy about the last three weeks. You can either stay where you’re at, or you can change your best. I think we have a very confident football team that needs to get back to playing confident," Fleck said Monday. "We're going to respond because it's all we can do."

After 45 straight starts, quarterback Tanner Morgan did not play Saturday due to being in the concussion protocol. Fleck said Monday he’s progressing, but it’s too early to tell if he’ll be back on Saturday against Rutgers.

"He’s definitely progressed. It’s not just the steps, but how do you feel during the step," Fleck said.

Without Morgan, redshirt freshman Athan Kaliakmanis made his first career start in a "White Out" at Beaver Stadium in front of nearly 110,000 fans. Kaliakmanis finished 9-of-22 for 175 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He also ran seven times for 46 yards.

"For a redshirt freshman to come in and play like he did with 110,000 people being his first start, I thought he looked poised, I thought he threw the ball really well, I thought he handled himself," Fleck said.

Whether Morgan returns, or Kaliakmanis gets his second start Saturday is still up in the air.

Fleck also said he expects wide receiver Dylan Wright to return this week. Wright did not travel with the Gophers to Penn State for disciplinary reasons. Wright was expected to step up with Chris Autman-Bell out for the season with a leg injury, but has seven catches for 112 yards and one touchdown in six games.

The Gophers host Rutgers at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Huntington Bank Stadium.