BEYOND THE SPORTS DESK: Andries quickly gaining confidence for Gophers

After redshirting a season ago, Blaise Andries was immediately inserted into the starting lineup at right guard. The Marshall native has started every game for the Gophers, who currently have a 4-5 record with three games remaining.

With every game started comes more confidence for Andries.

“Blaise Andries is getting bigger and stronger, and he’s playing a lot better,” Minnesota coach PJ Fleck said before the Illinois game a week ago. “He’s playing with way more confidence. Blaise is way more confident today than he was the day he walked in here. I think that’s the biggest change he’s made.”

According to Minnesota offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca, two of Andries’ best games of the season came against the University of Iowa and Ohio State University.

A big part of Andries’ development has been his work with offensive line coach Brian Callahan, who is in his first year at the position after coaching tight ends last season.

“Coach Callahan has been a great, great influence on me,” Andries said on Wednesday. “He really hammers home the technique. Even the smallest mistakes, he will correct it. He won’t just get on you to correct it, but he’ll tell you how to correct it. It’s definitely helpful to have him there.”

The coaching staff has repeatedly lauded the intelligence of Andries, often referencing that the offensive lineman is a Pre-Actuarial Science major.

For Andries to continue growing in confidence, Fleck wants him to just keep things simple.

“You know, (Blaise) over-analyzes everything, which is a good thing,” Fleck said earlier this season. “He’s one of the smartest people we’ve had on our team. But at times, he might overthink something and sit there and say, well, and you’re looking at him like, man, I never even thought of that. You shouldn’t be thinking of that; just do this. But he’s a really special player, and he’s going to be a really great player as we continue to go forward for our Gopher football team.”

Notes

-The Marshall Tigers have become very familiar with the volleyball state tournament over the years, and 2018 will be no different as the Tigers will participate in their 28th state tournament in program history. According to Minnesota State High School League media specialist John Millea, that’s a state record.

-Only one football team within the Marshall Independent footprint is playing in the state tournament in 2018. That is the lowest total since 2012 and down from four teams each of the past two seasons. Last time we had no area representatives in the state football tournament was 2008.

-I believe that Section 3A North volleyball is essentially the Section 5A football equivalent, both in geography and talent level. I’m already aware of at least three area kids from that subsection who have committed to play volleyball in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference beginning next season. Lydia Sussner of Minneota will play volleyball at Southwest Minnesota State University, while Madison Guetter of Wabasso will suit up for Augustana University and Canby’s Morgan Cleveland has committed to Minnesota State University-Moorhead.

-Speaking of Section 5A football, sometimes I wonder if we don’t give enough credit to the teams that don’t come out of that section. Take Dawson-Boyd for example. One of my Twitter followers Jason Boike gave me a heads up that Dawson-Boyd has gone 16-4 over the past two seasons. All four losses were to Minneota, but the Blackjacks won their 16 games by an average margin of victory of 38.8 points per game, including a 42.3-point margin this season.

-Two weekends ago, Morningside College’s Connor Niles hauled in the 60th touchdown reception of his career on Saturday. That milestone moved him past Southwest State’s Alvin Ashley as the career scoring reception leader for the NAIA.

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