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Getting to know Minnesota: Harbaugh, Fleck have mutual respect


NCAA Football: Illinois at Minnesota Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a new era for the Minnesota Golden Gophers football team. A new type of competitiveness, all because of a new coach, P.J. Fleck.

Fleck has proven to be a winner, improving Western Michigan from 1-11 in his first year (2013) to 13-1 last season (the lone loss was a 24-16 Wisconsin victory in the Cotton Bowl). Fleck took Minnesota’s job looking to do the same, turn this team into a Big Ten juggernaut.

No program is built overnight, Minnesota is 4-4 on the year, but that record is deceiving, as three losses were by a touchdown or less. This team could be 7-1.

While Michigan is favored to win, factoring in the type of coach Fleck is, and it will have that night-time kick-off electricity in the air could prove to be a worthy challenge for Michigan. Minnesota cannot be taken lightly.

It isn’t every week a coach gives a genuine reply about the opposing coach for the given week, but Harbaugh and Fleck both showed they think highly of one another.

Fleck on Harbaugh

"He's a trailblazer and pioneer of making sure that you can be yourself, in all areas. Recruiting-wise. How you run a program. The media. You can be the real person that you are, and he's had a ton of success everywhere he's been."

"To watch Jim Harbaugh do it, it brings validation to all the things I was taught," Fleck said. You don't have to be anybody but yourself. You don't have to impress anybody. Just be you, and that's all you can continue to do."

Harbaugh on Fleck

"Always been impressed. Been around him in-person and watching his teams, watching the Western Michigan team. And now mostly impressed with the Minnesota team.”

Notable Stats

  • Passing offense- 116th
  • Rushing offense- 48th
  • Third down conversions- 96th (35.7%)
  • Offensive efficiency- 99th
  • Receiving offense- 116th
  • Passing defense- 25th
  • Rushing defense- 35th
  • Sacks- 98th (12)
  • Interceptions- 40th (8)
  • Defensive efficiency- 37th
  • Receiver Tyler Johnson is the man to watch- 31 receptions for 591 yards and 7 touchdowns