MINNEAPOLIS - Coronavirus may have the sports world shut down and most of us confined to our homes, but Tanner Morgan isn’t going to let it stop him from being a better quarterback.
The Covid-19 pandemic put an end to the NCAA spring season, which meant no more spring practice for the Gophers after about a week following a historic 11-2 season. It also meant no Spring Game.
Morgan views it as another opportunity to grow as a leader, and as a football player. It starts with a white board in the bedroom of his home in Union, Kentucky. He uses it to draw up plays and look at formations, much the same way he did with white boards at his home on campus and at the team facility. Quarterbacks teach the installs in practice, so Morgan needs to know every formation, every route.
“I love having that, I have one in my room on campus and I use the white boards all the time at the facility. That grease board has got a lot of use in the past week or two,” Morgan said Wednesday, talking with Minnesota media via Zoom.
Despite the gaudy numbers last season (66 percent on completions; 3,253 yards passing; 30 touchdowns; 6 interceptions), Morgan is in constant pursuit of perfection. He’s also emerging more as a leader, helping organize group video chats as part of the team’s leadership council, contacting players on the phone or through text messaging.
He continues to watch film for what he calls “mastery of our offense and defensive recognition.”
“We’re not just going to sit at home and be bored. We’re going to be able to find ways to get better throughout this time, doing it the right way, staying in shape. There’s a lot of opportunities for growth, especially mentally,” Morgan said.
Morgan admitted Wednesday he’s had to find some creative ways to stay in shape, with there not being spring football. He recalled taking a set of dumbbells out recently to an empty parking lot for a workout. He has access to a home gym where can safely exercise alone.
They’re motivated by their own coaching staff, led by P.J. Fleck, who put out his own video on Twitter last week of how coaches are getting creative with workouts.
“We’re finding ways to utilize and keep our strengths right. Even if it’s at-home workouts, but guys are find ways to get it done,” Morgan said.
His biggest adversity so far was learning he wouldn’t be coming back to Dinkytown from Spring Break. The University of Minnesota went exclusively to online classes following the time off, and the students that could were told to go home.
Morgan flew home to Kentucky, checked a bag and said he was able to get most of his essentials home with him. But he admits he forgot his laptop, so he’s using an iPad for what needs to be done.
“It was kind of a whirlwind because we thought we were coming back on Saturday from Spring Break, and the next day it was extended. It was kind of wild how it all went down,” Morgan said.
He says he’s a person driven by routines. He wakes up and goes to bed at a certain time, and tries to lay out a plan every day to avoid catching himself bored. When most of us are binge-watching Netflix, he’s reading or diving into his spirituality.
Like all of us, he also finds his own time to unwind. He has a fishing pond in his backyard, and makes time to play Madden football with his brother.
“You can’t allow yourself to get bored and I think it’s a great opportunity to grow,” Morgan said.
The Coronavirus pandemic is being felt across the globe, and it currently has sports shut down. There’s a very real chance it could delay the college football season, or worse. If players and teams can’t convene for fall camp, it’s going to be difficult to have a full season.
Morgan says there’s far greater things to worry about right now than having kickoffs on Saturdays in the fall.
“We can’t worry about what if. Really the most important thing is the health of our country right now. That’s a real possibility potentially, but that’s down the road and we’re going to work like we’re playing Sept. 3,” Morgan said. We have to control the controllables and prepare like we have the fall season. Whatever happens, happens, but that’s not up to us. First and foremost is the safety of everybody in our country and around the world.”