One big theme in Week 4 of the Big Ten football season was how many programs switched quarterbacks. Michigan, Nebraska, Michigan State, Penn State and Illinois each made moves Saturday.

Like those teams, the Gophers (1-3) have a losing record. But don’t expect head coach P.J. Fleck to make a change from Tanner Morgan.

Current backup Zack Annexstad beat out Morgan for the starting job in 2018, but Annexstad was injured midway though that season and again at the start of fall camp in 2019. Annexstad has served as Minnesota’s game captain this season but has not taken a snap from center.

“He’s become an ultimate teammate and he is ready for his opportunity,” Fleck said Monday. “Just like when he had his opportunity and then things outside of his control happened, then he got hurt again. He’s matured so much. I know this: When he has an opportunity to play, he is going to play well. … Zack is incredibly talented, and he is one play away.”

That last line is a reference to a change being an injury-prompted, not a coach’s decision.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

Morgan had an off game in last Friday’s 35-7 home loss to Iowa. He completed only 48% of his passes, which was dragged down by what Fleck counted as eight dropped passes. Morgan also threw two interceptions in a game for the first time in 18 starts.

“The two interceptions obviously is completely unacceptable and can never happen,” Morgan said Monday. “Either give our guys a chance or nobody a chance, so that’s obviously something that I definitely have learned from. I think there’s a lot of things that I obviously have to do better because everything runs through me. And so for us to be better, I have to be better, and I will be.”

Sori-Marin and trust

Since Friday’s game, Fleck repeatedly has pointed to six freshmen defenders being on the field at the same time and how that youth is a contributing reason for their season-long inability to regularly stop opponents.

But middle linebacker Mariano Sori-Marin, a junior, has been struggling more than his fair share.

“You’re surrounded by people with inexperience, you try and do their job too, and then you try to do too much, and I think that’s where Mariano’s falling into,” Fleck said. “I love that. That’s something you can fix. When someone’s doing less, that’s hard to fix, right? If someone doesn’t want to do something, that’s different. Now, he wants to do everything. … You’ve got to be able to trust the people around you.”

Maybe Moore

Purdue’s standout receiver Rondale Moore is closer to making his season debut against Minnesota on Friday night at TCF Bank Stadium.

“He’s done everything that we’ve asked and more and he’s worked had to get back on the field,” coach Jeff Brohm said to reporters Monday. “So we’re hopeful that will happen here soon.”

Moore reversed course and opted back in for the 2020 season but hasn’t played because of a reported lower-body injury. Moore was the Big Ten receiver of the year in 2018, with 114 receptions for 1,258 yards and 12 touchdowns.

He had 29 receptions for 387 yards and two TDs in 2019 before he was injured in the first quarter of Gophers’ 38-31 win in the Big Ten opener in West Lafayette, Ind., last September.

Without Moore this fall, David Bell has stepped up for Purdue, with 31 receptions for 321 yards and four touchdowns.

Briefly

Kickoff is set for the Battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe between Gophers and Badgers; it will be at 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 28 in Madison and will air on Big Ten Network, the conference said Monday.