Quarterback Demry Croft won’t play in Saturday’s game due to personal issues

Croft shared time with quarterback Conor Rhoda the first two games before Rhoda was named the starter Monday.

Quarterback Demry Croft hands the ball to running back Rodney Smith at TCF Bank Stadium on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017. The Gophers beat Buffalo 17-7.

Easton Green

Quarterback Demry Croft hands the ball to running back Rodney Smith at TCF Bank Stadium on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017. The Gophers beat Buffalo 17-7.

Jack Warrick

Demry Croft, one of the two Gophers starting quarterbacks in the first two games, is not suiting up for this week’s game, head coach P.J. Fleck said on Tuesday.

“Demry Croft will not be with us,” Fleck said. “He’s dealing with some personal issues that are way, way more important than football.”

To respect Croft’s privacy, Fleck didn’t say exactly what the personal issues were at the Tuesday press conference.

“This decision was made prior to this happening,” Fleck said. “This is not a reaction to what had happened [with Croft].”

Conor Rhoda was named the starter on Monday after Rhoda threw 7-8 in last weeks game and helped the Gophers go from a small lead of 17-14 at halftime to an overwhelming lead of 48-14 at the conclusion of the Oregon State game. The quarterback said it’s a great feeling to earn the starting position.

“Just really brings everything full circle, shows all the hard work I’ve put in,” Rhoda said.

Fleck said the team emphasized three things last week that led to a better performance — turnovers, the running game and being better on first and second down.

Fleck talked briefly on Minnesota’s next opponent, Middle Tennessee State. The best player on the Middle Tennessee’s team, Fleck said, is starting quarterback Brent Stockstill. Stockstill is the head coach’s son, and has the most touchdowns in Middle Tennessee State program history with 65. 

Fleck also named Middle Tennessee’s wide receiver Richie James and wide receiver Ty Lee as guys to watch on Middle Tennessee’s offense.

“They have playmakers all over the field,”  Fleck said. “You’re going to see these guys fly around, and you’re going to go, ‘wow.’”

Other notes

-Middle Tennessee State quarterback Brent Stockstill injured his throwing shoulder in the game against Syracuse last week. He had an MRI and the team is not sure if he will play against Minnesota. However, Stockstill had two passing touchdowns after the injury occurred, and he said himself on Monday he would be ready to play.

-Gophers wide receiver Tyler Johnson leads the Big Ten in receiving yards with 268 yards on 10 catches this season. He has opened the scoring for the Gophers in each of the first two games with 60+ yards receiving touchdowns, each from Rhoda.

-Fleck said he wasn’t certain who the backup quarterback will be yet, but he said he hopes to keep freshman Tanner Morgan’s redshirt intact.