It’s a tale as old as time: the Minnesota fan base calling for a replacement QB.
The old joke is that the most popular player on a Minnesota football team is the backup QB.
Gopher fans, Viking fans, I’m guessing Minnesota State Mavericks (is that what they’re called?) and UMD Bulldog fans are all about the same in this regard.
Last season we heard constant refrains of wanting to see Demry Croft on the field when Mitch Leidner was performing below standards. And this season, when Connor Rhoda was the lone QB under center for three games as Demry Croft served some sort of suspension, the entire fanbase pined for a change.
And it really doesn’t much matter who the change would bring. Get Demry off of suspension? Great. Seth Green? Bring it on. Tanner Morgan? Sure, why the hell not?!?! Heck, let’s throw Mark Williams out there while we’re at it.
The screaming for a QB change in 2017 proves two very important things:
1) The QB cupboard was pretty lacking when Fleck and Company came to Minneapolis.
2) As a fanbase we are NOT big picture thinkers.
But, all the same, halfway through a rainy Michigan State game which saw the Gophers unable to do anything meaningful on offense, sometime between me wishing I had worn rain pants and heading to the beer tent to try to continue the numbing process of my wet derriere, Demry Croft took the ball from Connor Rhoda.
What happened was magical.
Down 23-6, Demry lead three scoring drives where he threw three TD passes to Tyler Johnson and brought the Gophers to within a FG of perhaps one of the greatest comebacks in Gopher history.
But what people seem to forget is what happened before those 3 TD passes. Demry came in and, while he completed his first two passes, he threw an INT on his first possession under center in that game. And in his following two possessions he completed just 1 of 4 passes, and lead the Gophers to two 3-and-outs.
The offense looked effectively no different under Croft to start out than it did under Rhoda. But given some time, he figured some things out.
I think, and I hope, the same can be said of Croft’s full tenure as Gopher QB.
Keep in mind, Demry Croft has played in a total of seven football games as a Gopher. He had 17 pass attempts as a true freshmen in 2015, and he played in zero games last season.
As a Gopher QB, Demry Croft has played exactly ONE full game where he didn’t share time with another QB, which was last week against Illinois.
Is Demry Croft going to be an all-time great Gopher QB? Chances are he won’t. In fact, it’s possible that Demry Croft doesn’t play beyond this season.
But what is undeniable is that in at least four TD drives this season, the offense has shown a glimmer of what it can be under Demry Croft, and has shown a dimension that was never seen in any drive that Connor Rhoda lead.
Between that fact, and a quick look at the other QB’s on the roster and what they can bring to the table right now, maybe it would be okay to slow down and give Demry a chance to develop his game this year.