Unconventional ending highlights U spring football game
Faced with an encroaching deadline, the Gophers football coach PJ Fleck took an unusual route to deciding a winner in Saturday’s spring game: a kick-off. But not a kickoff in the usual sense.
The brown team won the match 19-16 on kicker by Matthew Trickett second straight 52-yard field goal. At this point, Trickett and fellow kicker Dragan Kesich tied the game, scoring two baskets apiece in an overtime that looked like an NHL shootout. Kesich missed his third attempt, from 52 yards, before Trickett nailed the match winner.
The two kickers were surrounded by players from both sides, who had come together knowing the outcome depended on the kicking battle.
Moved to the grounds of the Football Performance Center in Athletes Village due to weather on Saturday, the match, which was televised by the Big Ten Network, was tied 10-10 at the end of regulation. Fleck said the network told him the game had to end by 3 p.m.
“TV production could be in my future,” joked Fleck. “They told me I had until 2:58 to do this thing. It was around 2:10 when they told me that. I’m not sure what we would have done if Dragan had kicked that. They would probably cut us in. The TV waits for no one.
It was a first for Trickett.
“I’ve been in a similar situation, but nothing to bring it all home,” Trickett said. “They say kicking is 90% mental and 10% physical. It’s just about training your mind and trusting your form.”
Brown-Stephens has a big day
Junior wide receiver Michael Brown Stephens showed his versatility. Brown-Stephens, who started nine games in 2021 and had 23 catches, caught four passes for 50 yards, ran four times for 26 yards and even threw a pass, which fell just out of the first receiver’s reach. Ike White year.
“Yeah, I guess I’m a QB too,” he joked.
Brown-Stephens’ younger brother, Anthony, a popular recruit from Springfield, Ohio, was originally committed to the Gophers but backed out of that commitment in February. Anthony was at the game on Saturday to support his older brother and, many hoped, would be inspired enough to re-engage. But Michael said Anthony came away less than impressed with his brother’s performance.
“He did great things in high school, so he thinks I should do the same,” Brown-Stephens said. “But we’re competitive. I was like, ‘you want me to match you, now you’re going to match me.’ “
A look at the QBs
Strategist Tanner Morganentering his sixth season with the team, played just two series for the maroon team, completing just one of four passes for 12 yards before being pulled for Cole Kramer. Kramer was 9-for-19 for 112 yards and a touchdown on a rollout pass to redshirt second running back Kendall Moore in the second trimester.
Real Freshman Athan Kaliakmanis was White’s quarterback the entire game and showed the skills that won over impressed watchers this spring. Strong-armed Kaliakmanis, a native of Antioch, Ill., was 10-for-22 for 143 yards and a touchdown, a 27-yard strike to receiver Larry Wright to cap off a nine-game 80-yard drive.
Both quarterbacks threw interceptions. defensive back Miles Fleming skipped a side throw by Kaliakmanis in the second quarter. linebacker Captain Derik took Kramer down a passing road in the third quarter.
- A few 2021 regulars played very little or were kept out of tight end Brevin Spann Fordcenter Jean-Michel Schmitzdefensive backs Terrell Smith and Justin Wally. None of their three injured running backs in 2021 have played: Mo Ibrahim, Trey Pott neither Bryce Williams.
True Freshman Rookie Zach Evans rushed 11 times for 51 yards for the White team and one-handedly caught a Kaliakmanis pass that was thrown behind him, turning it into a 10-yard gain. Redshirt freshman running back Jordan Nubin rushed for 44 yards for the Maroon.
- Fleck shed light on the common narrative that, until Saturday, the Gophers hadn’t had an offensive lineman drafted since 2006. Daniel Faalele was selected by Baltimore in the fourth round, pick 110. Fleck breathed an exaggerated sigh of relief, smiled and said, “Finally. Finally.”
- A number of former top players wandered the sidelines – there were no seats on the pitch – including Anthony Winfield Jr., Carter Coughlin, Rashod Bateman and recently drafted defensive end Boye Mafe.