P.J. Fleck Show: 'Preparing for ghosts' vs. Nebraska in opener

It’s our favorite tradition of Day 1 of the Minnesota State Fair – a live taping of the P.J. Fleck Show at the FOX 9 booth with Coach Fleck, Ron Johnson, Justin Gaard and Pierre Noujaim.

Fleck: "I always love coming to the Fair because we don’t have any wins or losses right now, so everybody’s way happier. This is great!"

Watch the full episode in the player above. You will also be able to watch all episodes of the PJ Fleck Show on demand on FOX Local throughout the season, as well as all Gopher pregame coverage and postgame press conferences.

Tough schedule

"We have the second most opportunistic schedule in the country. Some would call it the most challenging and hardest schedule but this team has taken a completely different approach. They understand the position they’re in, they’ve really come together all the way since January when we through this word ‘poise’ out in front of them. We’ve got to be controlled, we’ve got to be balanced in terms of all the things that are thrown at us. These guys have worked incredibly hard. I haven’t been around a team that scientifically and in their own mind has worked harder than this team on paper. That doesn’t promise you a darn thing, but that gives you a chance."

Tanner Morgan to Athan Kaliakmanis

"Everybody brings a different skillset, and I think one of the things a coaching staff always has to do a really good job of  - you have to adapt your system based on what your quarterback can do. I thought our system fit Tanner Morgan very well. It fit him just like it fit Zach Terrell. I think our system fits Cole Kramer and Athan very well. I put them in a group because I haven’t had a quarterback and a backup quarterback work as hard collectively together and make each other truly better on a daily basis."

Gophers RBs

"That’s going to be the biggest change for everybody’s that watches us, especially our fans. We’ve always had that number one back, everyone knew who was going to be the number one back. This is going to be a little more about running back by committee. They all bring something completely different in their own dynamic way."

Gophers pass rush

"What we really want to be able to do is get there with four. You look at guys like Danny Striggow, and you like at guys like Kyler Baugh, Jalen Logan-Redding probably has had one of the best camps I’ve ever seen, Jah Joyner, and then you look at  a guy like Anthony Smith and everybody who comes to practice says ‘Who’s that guy?’…Zero just looks different."

PJ's State Fair food picks

"I highly recommend the pork chop on a stick. I’ve only been here about 30 minutes. I’ve had a pork chop on a stick, I’ve had the cheese curds – phenomenal, I’ve had the Cajun fried pickles – I love pickles, phenomenal, and then you have to have some Sweet Martha’s. The pork chop is pretty big. Careful of the bone though. The bone is pretty pick and it’s right on top and I took a big bite of the bone."

What fans are saying at the Fair

"It’s usually, ‘Beat Iowa’ and ‘why haven’t you.’"

Minnesota vs. Nebraska in season opener

"This is our third Nebraska coaching staff we’ve played against in our 6th going on 7th year. I’ve got a ton of respect for Matt Rhule – he’s a good friend of mine. He does it the right way. He’s a huge culture builder. He’s won everywhere he’s been in college football. He’;s going to produce some really tough challenges for us. We’re preparing for ghosts – we have no idea what we’re going to face.  That’s hard. We know the scheme they have but part of the scheme that they have is to produce organized chaos."

Note: The Gophers kick off the 2023 season on Thursday, Aug. 31 at home vs Nebraska. It’s a sell out game and a Gold Out! Pregame coverage starts at 4 p.m. with the Gopher Tailgate on FOX 9 and the FOX Local app for Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV and Android TV, followed by the Gopher Pregame Show at 5 p.m. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. on FOX 9. How to find FOX Local on your Connected TV.

Big Ten expansion

"I think it depends on what lens you look through. If you look at it through a negative lens, whatever we do – whether it’s NIL, the transfer portal, new people joining the conference, traditions of the past that probably are going to be blown up a little bit, you’ve probably going to be negative and sad about it. If you’re looking at how college football is changing over the years just naturally – that is our Big Ten or our college football today – you can see that change is inevitable and it’s going to be really healthy for the future of college football."

Offseason weight gain

Justin Gaard picked Jah Joyner as his player to watch in 2023.

Fleck: "I’ll say this about Jah Joyner, he’s gained about 15 pounds in the offseason."

Gaard: "Same."