Gophers defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman made his presence felt in last Thursday’s season opener with five tackles and a block of a field-goal attempt, which turned into a touchdown by Martez Shabazz.
But with UNLV quarterback Nick Sherry using a three-step drop and quick release, the Gophers managed just one sack. That came from sophomore Alex Keith, a reserve defensive end. Keith finished with three tackles, including two for a loss.
“I’ve been working so hard,” Keith said. “I mean, honestly I’ve just been trying to get on the field for one, trying to start, so to get that sack was really, really good.”
The 6-3, 237-pound Keith “isn’t a big guy, he’s a speed guy, a pass-rusher type guy,” Gophers coach Jerry Kill said. “When you play teams like we’re playing with the spread [offense] and all that stuff, having his athleticism, that’s like having a standup outside linebacker.”
• Running back Donnell Kirkwood (sprained ankle) ran around during practice, but he’s doubtful for Saturday’s game at New Mexico State. Still, the Gophers are encouraged with his progress less than a week after sustaining the injury.
• Running back Berkley Edwards (sprained ankle) is about as close to returning to game action as Kirkwood, said Kill, who compared Edwards’ injury to the one MarQueis Gray suffered last year. It took Gray about three weeks to come back from his injury.
• Derrick Wells (shoulder and hamstring injuries) has been practicing at full speed this week, but it’s uncertain how much he’ll play against New Mexico State.
Harbison still out
Wide receiver Jamel Harbison will miss his second consecutive game because of a discipline issue, Kill said.
“But he’ll be back here soon,” Kill said. “He’s doing a good job. He’s doing what he’s been asked to do and told to do. It’s no different than — I’m sure Rodrick [Williams] won’t be late to the team meeting this week. I don’t think he enjoyed missing the first half [against UNLV], so I think he’ll be the first one at the team meeting.”