Gophers' PJ Fleck parting ways with offensive coordinator Mike Sanford Jr.
MINNEAPOLIS - The University of Minnesota football team finished the regular season 8-4 after a 23-13 win over rival Wisconsin on Saturday, and it appears they’ll have a new offensive coordinator for the 2022 season.
As the Gophers await their bowl destination, Fox 9 has confirmed that PJ Fleck is parting ways with Mike Sanford Jr. after the season. Football Scoop was the first to report the decision. Sanford's contract was set to expire in January, and it will not be renewed. Fleck hired Sanford two years ago, after Kirk Ciarocca was hired to be the offensive coordinator at Penn State.
Sanford shared offensive coordinator duties this season with wide receivers coach Matt Simon, but Sanford called the plays. Simon was the signal-caller back in 2019 in Minnesota's win over Auburn in the Outback Bowl.
The Gophers scored at least 30 points in four of their first six games this season, and finished the season averaging 26 points per game. But Minnesota also scored just six points in a loss to Illinois, and 10 points in a stunning Homecoming loss to Bowling Green.
After a historic 2019 season, quarterback Tanner Morgan has had his ups downs the past two seasons. In 2020, he threw for 1,374 yards with seven touchdowns and five interceptions as the Gophers dealt with injuries and COVID-19 issues.
In 12 games this season, Morgan has 1,935 passing yards, 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Minnesota’s offense had challenges in 2021 due to injuries at skill positions. Running backs Mo Ibrahim, Trey Potts and Bryce Williams all suffered season-ending injuries. The Gophers were also without receivers Chris Autman-Bell, Dylan Wright and Daniel Jackson at times this season.
Minnesota's offense ranked No. 98 nationally in 12 regular season games, and 84th in scoring offense. The passing offense ranked 115th in the country this season, averaging about 166 yards per game. Morgan attempted 237 passes in 12 games this season. Only Army, Navy and Air Force, all service academies that focus on the triple option, threw fewer passes than the Gophers this season.
Morgan is reportedly returning for the 2022 season, his sixth and final year of eligibility. Ibrahim announced last week he is coming back next season.
The next offensive coordinator will be Fleck's third in six seasons at Minnesota.