Andy Greder / St. Paul Pioneer Press
COLLEGE PARK, Md. — As Gophers players and staff packed up gear and grabbed food for the long trip back to Minnesota on Saturday in College Park, Md., offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca stood outside the locker room with a blank look on his face. A 42-13 loss to Maryland will do that to you. Defensive coordinator Robb Smith wasn't visible in the moments after head coach P.J. Fleck assessed the 0-1 start to Big Ten play at Maryland Stadium, but he, too, was likely at a loss.
COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Gophers coach P.J. Fleck's eyes welled with tears when describing how his team tried to mourn the death of former player Nick Connelly only days before playing Maryland on Saturday, Sept. 22. "A lot of our guys never really had ..." Fleck said before pausing to collect his emotions. "A lot of our guys never had a chance to really say goodbye. And that is really difficult."
COLLEGE PARK, Md. — The Minnesota Gophers' offense had a sudden sign of life with a touchdown drive just before halftime of their Big Ten opener Saturday, Sept. 22, at Maryland Stadium. After throwing a precise back-shoulder pass to Rashod Bateman, true freshman quarterback Zack Annexstad came out after the break and lofted a ball that was intercepted Maryland's Tre Watson and returned for a touchdown.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota United returns to TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 22, the Loons' first home game since Aug. 4. That's about the only thing they have going for them headed into a 7 p.m. game against Portland. A seven-game winless streak since late July has all but eliminated Minnesota (9-16-3) from playoff contention in its second MLS season.
MINNEAPOLIS — P.J. Fleck will buzz around Gophers practices, checking in on different position groups during individual drills. But he often can be found with his eyes glued on the wide receivers, sharing details on the position's finer points. In daily staff meetings, sometimes 90 percent of the notes scribbled in Fleck's legal pad pertain to the wideouts.
When and where is the Gophers vs. Maryland game? 11 a.m. Saturday, Maryland Stadium Records: Minnesota (3-0), Maryland (2-1) What channel is the Gophers vs. Maryland game on? TV: BTN Radio: KFAN-FM 100.3 Who has the edge between Gophers and Maryland?
MINNEAPOLIS — Maryland's switch from head coach D.J. Durkin to interim coach Matt Canada has not thrown off the Gophers' preparations for their Big Ten opener Saturday, Sept. 22, in College Park, Md. If anything, it's created a deeper layer of familiarity. While Canada might have been hired as Maryland's first-year offensive coordinator in January — meaning he wasn't involved in the Terrapins' 31-24 win over Minnesota last September — he and Gophers head coach P.J. Fleck have know each other for nearly 20 years.
MINNEAPOLIS — It appears Zack Annexstad's left ankle injury won't keep him from playing in the Gophers' Big Ten opener against Maryland at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 22, in College Park. "It seems like he's going to be OK, according to what our people say, so (I'm) hopeful," head coach P.J. Fleck said Monday.
MINNEAPOLIS — The Gophers head into Big Ten play next week with a perfect 3-0 record after a thorough 26-3 win over winless Miami (Ohio) on a steamy Saturday, Sept. 15, at TCF Bank Stadium. There, however, was a dichotomy in their postgame reaction. On one hand, victory will be savored as five of the other six teams in the Big Ten West have suffered defeats already this season, including front-runner and sixth-ranked Wisconsin falling to Brigham Young on Saturday.
MINNEAPOLIS — With a team-high bench press max of 430 pounds, Gary Moore is one of strongest Gophers football players. He's also one of the most open about his vulnerabilities. Moore grew up in a poor section of Mobile, Ala., where "there was a lot of crime going in the area, drug dealers," he said. But his father was the neighborhood mechanic and worked to steer his namesake down the right path. "I think that was the best part: My dad was always there, up until high school," Moore said.