After today, Nebraska will already by 20% done with fall camp. Monday's practice, the first with media availability, is the Huskers' fourth since the players reported for camp last Thursday. Overall Nebraska will practice 20 times in 24 days and we'll spend most of the next month charting the ups and downs of those practices.
The one "down" you hope you don't have to chart is news of a major injury. That goes for any team. While college football can get heated between rival fan bases, nobody wants to learn of players getting injured.
Minnesota was not so lucky. Sophomore quarterback Zack Annexstad injured his foot during the Gophers' first practice last Friday and is out indefinitely.
"Towards the end of practice yesterday, Zack suffered a non-contact injury," Fleck told reporters on Saturday. "Zack threw the ball and felt a pop in his foot. The timeline is indefinitely because there's a time frame he could fit in that he could come back, wherever it is in the year, somehow someway. So I can't sit there and say he's out for the year, and I can't sit there and say he'll come back. We're still gaining a lot of information, and it's a serious injury."
Annexstad was the perhaps the favorite in a two-man quarterback race with redshirt sophomore Tanner Morgan. Annexstad started Minnesota's first seven games last season. His gophersports.com bio reads that he was "believed to be the second walk-on true freshman quarterback to start a season opener, joining Baker Mayfield who started his first game at Texas Tech in 2013 after walking on." The Gophers started 3-0 under Annexstad before dropping four straight games. An injury limited Annexstad over the second half of the season as Morgan stepped in as the starter and led Minnesota to a 4-2 record.
That's the good news here. Minnesota has a second quarterback with starting experience. Morgan's numbers in 2018 were even a little bit better than Annexstad's, but the QB race was far from over. It had just entered the final stretch.
"They're both starters, but it makes the decision a little bit easier," Fleck said.
I guess that's a positive. Offseason buzz was building around the Gophers and while it's too early to know if this injury will have a lasting impact on Minnesota's season, you hate to see a season start like this.
Here are a few other early fall camp updates from teams on Nebraska's schedule:
COLORADO: Sophomore offensive lineman Jake Moretti decided to medically retire from football. That's a disappointing end to a promising career. A former 4-star recruit, Moretti was committed to Ohio State before injuring his knee at a Buckeyes camp, an injury that forced him to miss his senior season. He ended up signing with Colorado and appeared in seven games for the Buffs last season.
NORTHERN ILLINOIS: NIU should be in pretty good shape at the skill positions with a starting quarterback and all-conference running back returning for 2019. Keep an eye, however, on true freshman Michael Love. Listed as a wide receiver, he could help the Huskies in multiple spots on offense, including in the backfield.
ILLINOIS: The Illini have a quarterback battle going on. Brandon Peters, a Michigan transfer, was brought in to offer some stability and experience to the group, and might have the inside track, but hyped 4-star freshman Isaiah Williams impressed over the weekend. This will be an interesting one to watch as Illinois has a difficult choice to make: Go with the veteran who has won in the Big Ten before, or go with the high-upside (and perhaps higher risk) of Williams. I'm getting strong notes of Nebraska's 2010 QB race here.
INDIANA: The Hoosiers are holding a three-man race for snaps this August. Junior Peyton Ramsey has already won two of these battles before, completing 65.8% of his passes over two seasons as the starter, yet his job always seems to be up for grabs.
PURDUE: This is probably pretty minor in the grand scheme of things, but it was notable enough to make the Purdue practice recaps––true freshman wide receiver David Bell missed the first practice with a hamstring injury. The Boilermakers need to replace seven starters on offense, and Bell is part of those plans. Defensive tackle Lorenzo Neal might not be ready to go for another week or so as recovers from offseason knee surgery, a recovery that Brohm said is "taking a little longer than we thought." Neal, a senior, was named a team captain before the start of camp.
MARYLAND: The Terrapins are losing cornerback Ken Montgomery Jr. to transfer. He was part of a crowded field in the secondary and probably dent the Terps’ depth immediately, but as a former 4-star recruit he came to Maryland with high expectations.
The Grab Bag
- Nebraska has struggled to find prototypical nose tackles since switching to the 3-4, but it might have two here at the start of the 2019 season.
- Two weekend stories from Derek Peterson: the difference between Year 1 and Year 2 at Nebraska, and a look at the Huskers’ secondary.
- Nebraska basketball is in Italy and the trip represents a big opportunity for Dachon Burke Jr. writes Jacob Padilla.
- Young players finding the field early is the new norm in college football writes Greg Smith.
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