There isn’t a sole starter at quarterback for Minnesota. Yet.
Gophers’ coach P.J. Fleck said Thursday that he’ll have two quarterbacks he can call the “starter” for the team’s game vs. Buffalo on Aug. 31. Both Demry Croft and Conor Rhoda will see significant playing time.
“We’re gonna play ’em both. That’s my decision,” Fleck said via the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “In terms of a starter, they’re both the starter.”
The two quarterbacks are vying for the right to replace Mitch Leidner. Unless Fleck becomes a college football revolutionary and puts two quarterbacks on the field at the same time, it stands to reason that Croft and Rhoda will alternate in some capacity.
Croft is a sophomore while Rhoda is a senior and served as Leidner’s primary backup in 2017. He was 8-16 passing for 88 yards and a touchdown. Croft was a three-star recruit in the class of 2016 and was the No. 28 dual-threat quarterback in the class according to Rivals.
Thursday was the final open practice of Minnesota’s preseason preparations. Here’s an analysis of how the quarterbacks looked from Rivals’ GopherIllustrated.com:
Both Rhoda and Croft had solid days today. In the team live drills, Croft shined. He led multiple scoring drives, and just looks more sharp, and makes better decision when there is 11 guys on defense playing against him. Doesn’t really make sense, but he’s actually more accurate in game type situations than he is in drills, it seems. Rhoda had another solid day. He hits some check downs and was very solid going over the middle as well.
Minnesota travels to Oregon State and hosts Middle Tennessee before conference play begins. We’d assume that one of the two QBs will emerge as the starter quite quickly; perhaps even against the Bulls. Dragging out a quarterback decision through the first three weeks of the season doesn’t seem ideal, especially for a team aiming for a top-three finish in the Big Ten West.
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