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Joe Christensen

Gophers football reporter | Gophers, Big Ten
phone: 612-673-7844
Joe Christensen covered Major League Baseball for 15 years, including three at the Baltimore Sun and eight at the Star Tribune, before switching to the college football beat. He's a Faribault, Minn., native who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1996. He covered Jim Wacker's Gophers for the Minnesota Daily and also wrote about USC, UCLA and the Rose Bowl for the Riverside Press-Enterprise before getting this chance to cover football again.
Recent content from Joe Christensen
Stopping Penn State's Barkley is tall order for Richardson, Gophers

Stopping Penn State's Barkley is tall order for Richardson, Gophers

Key for the Gophers in keeping the sophomore running back contained will be the play of undersized tackle Steven Richardson.
Building the buzz: Gophers getting started on pivotal stretch

Building the buzz: Gophers getting started on pivotal stretch

The next 10 days — with games at Penn State and home against Iowa — could set the tone for the Gophers fan base for the rest of the season.
Suspensions, injury tests Gophers secondary depth

Suspensions, injury tests Gophers secondary depth

The Gophers remain shorthanded at cornerback heading into Saturday's game at Penn State, with KiAnte Hardin and Ray Buford still suspended, and freshman Coney Durr out because of an unspecified injury.
Gophers freshman DE Devers forces third fumble

Gophers freshman DE Devers forces third fumble

Tai'yon Devers made another big hit to force another fumble Saturday, but the Gophers freshman sensation suffered a left ankle injury later in the game and didn't return.
Potent run game propels Gophers past Colorado State

Potent run game propels Gophers past Colorado State

With Shannon Brooks healthy, Rodney Smith continuing his roll and Mitch Leidner moving better than he has in two years, the Gophers used a potent running attack to defeat Colorado State 31-24 on Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium.
Gophers' need to finish September strong before eyeing October hunt

Gophers' need to finish September strong before eyeing October hunt

Next week, the Gophers open Big Ten play before 106,000 fans at Penn State. But first: a rematch with the Colorado State team that took Minnesota to overtime last fall.
Wisconsin-Michigan State: model programs battle in Big Ten's opening weekend

Wisconsin-Michigan State: model programs battle in Big Ten's opening weekend

The defending Big Ten champions open league play against the Badgers.
Gophers freshman receiver Johnson an inspiration to Minneapolis North

Gophers freshman receiver Johnson an inspiration to Minneapolis North

Tyler Johnson was a standout quarterback, defensive back and basketball guard at once-troubled Minneapolis North. He's made a seamless transition to receiver for the Gophers.
Four suspended Gophers football players involved in police investigation

Four suspended Gophers football players involved in police investigation

Gophers coach Tracy Claeys said he suspended KiAnte Hardin, Ray Buford, Dior Johnson and Tamarion Johnson for a violation of team rules. All four are part of a Minneapolis Police investigation.
Leidner, Gophers show Indiana State who's boss in 30-point victory

Leidner, Gophers show Indiana State who's boss in 30-point victory

Alleged pregame trash talk by Indiana State players and coaches inspired the Gophers to flex their Power 5 muscles in a big victory at TCF Bank Stadium.
Claeys overlooks lineman Wright's prep pedigree

Claeys overlooks lineman Wright's prep pedigree

Gophers left tackle Garrison Wright went to high school at one of Tracy Claeys' old rivals.
Targeting rule tough to define but Gophers aiming lower after ejections

Targeting rule tough to define but Gophers aiming lower after ejections

The Gophers had three players ejected for targeting in their season opener. Minnesota had only two targeting calls the previous four years, both overturned by replay.
Citing momentum, Claeys defends going for two vs. Oregon St.

Citing momentum, Claeys defends going for two vs. Oregon St.

Gophers football coach Tracy Claeys weighed the reward of icing Thursday night's game against the slim chance of the call backfiring.
Gophers notebook: Claeys explains late two-point try

Gophers notebook: Claeys explains late two-point try

Claeys said he was trying to avoid a scenario where Oregon State got the ball back with a chance to tie the score and force overtime.
Gophers eventually settle in, use late push to defeat Oregon State

Gophers eventually settle in, use late push to defeat Oregon State

The Gophers overcame upset-minded Oregon State - and three ejections - to win their season opener Thursday night despite trailing by six late in the third quarter.
Leidner seeking stronger finish than other Gophers senior QBs

Leidner seeking stronger finish than other Gophers senior QBs

Lakeville's Mitch Leidner opens his senior season Thursday night against Oregon State with a chance to shape a much grander ending to his Gophers career than quarterbacks before him.
Claeys lavishes praise on North High's Tyler Johnson

Claeys lavishes praise on North High's Tyler Johnson

Johnson was a standout quarterback and defensive back in high school, but he's been moved to wide receiver for the Gophers and will play right away as a freshman.
With favorable schedule, Iowa looks to finally write happy ending

With favorable schedule, Iowa looks to finally write happy ending

There's no such thing as a bad trip to the Rose Bowl, but Iowa's first visit since 1991 was humbling for the Hawkeyes and the entire Big Ten West.
Where will 'easier' schedule take 2016 Gophers?

Where will 'easier' schedule take 2016 Gophers?

There's no Ohio State or Michigan on the Gophers' football schedule. With the same quarterback, most top skill-position players and a similar defense, this theoretically should mean more wins.
Gophers schedule appears easier on paper

Gophers schedule appears easier on paper

On paper, the Gophers have a softer schedule, but careful of that finish
Lingen looks to get back in action, extend Gophers' tight end lineage

Lingen looks to get back in action, extend Gophers' tight end lineage

He's only a junior, but if Brandon Lingen can stay healthy, he looks ready to follow in the footsteps of former Gophers tight ends Maxx Williams, Matt Spaeth and Ben Utecht.
University, J Robinson reach impasse over negotiations

University, J Robinson reach impasse over negotiations

The sources said the university's internal investigation into Robinson's handling of the alleged use and sale of the prescription sedative Xanax by Gophers wrestlers is complete, with a report on the matter expected soon.
Gophers look to junior college transfers to fill some big holes

Gophers look to junior college transfers to fill some big holes

A mixed history with junior college transfers doesn't stop the U football team from leaning on them.
Tracy Claeys mum on Gophers' QB depth chart

Tracy Claeys mum on Gophers' QB depth chart

Mitch Leidner is the undisputed starting quarterback for the Gophers, but the backup spot remains a question nine days before the season opener.
Jerry Kill chronicles Gophers years with soft edge in upcoming book

Jerry Kill chronicles Gophers years with soft edge in upcoming book

Kill takes the high road in "Chasing Dreams: Living My Life One Yard at a Time," a book co-authored by Jim Bruton. The book will be released next month.
Still learning: Fun-loving sophomore could become Gophers' top wide receiver

Still learning: Fun-loving sophomore could become Gophers' top wide receiver

Rashad Still didn't start playing football until midway through high school, and sometimes for the Gophers receiver, this all still looks like a lark

With Sherels ailing, Claeys names acting Gophers LB coach

Tracy Claeys took the delicate but necessary step Thursday of naming an acting linebackers coach, choosing Keith Jordan.
Gophers take long look at No. 3 running back McCrary

Gophers take long look at No. 3 running back McCrary

With Shannon Brooks injured and Rodney Smith resting, Kobe McCrary impressed coaches Saturday.
Gophers rallying around assistant coach Mike Sherels

Gophers rallying around assistant coach Mike Sherels

The team and family are keeping details of Mike Sherels' medical condition private. Players press forward, determined to honor their beloved assistant coach.
Gophers cancel 2017 'scholarship seating' football ticket hike

Gophers cancel 2017 'scholarship seating' football ticket hike

With Gophers football season ticket sales slumping, Athletic Director Mark Coyle has pulled the plug on a scheduled "scholarship seating" price increase for 2017.
Wolitarsky rewrites his own story as a Gophers leader

Wolitarsky rewrites his own story as a Gophers leader

Drew Wolitarsky was born and raised in Southern California, but his father's side of the family has deep Minnesota roots.
Gophers top rusher from 2015 will miss 3-5 weeks because of foot injury

Gophers top rusher from 2015 will miss 3-5 weeks because of foot injury

Gophers running back Shannon Brooks will be out three to five weeks because of a foot injury, meaning he might miss the start of…
Santoso gets a kick out of just being Gophers punter

Santoso gets a kick out of just being Gophers punter

The Gophers have one of the top field-goal kickers in the Big Ten, and they are shifting him to punter.
Gophers rushing leader Shannon Brooks dealing with injured foot

Gophers rushing leader Shannon Brooks dealing with injured foot

Brooks missed practice because of a foot injury and was being re-evaluated. He made a brief appearance near the sideline and then continued receiving treatment.
Gophers tackle Pirsig enters senior season leaner and meaner

Gophers tackle Pirsig enters senior season leaner and meaner

The senior right tackle from Blue Earth entered Gophers training camp ready to raise his stock for the NFL draft -- and on board with a new team culture.
Gophers quarterback Mitch Leidner looks healthy in team drills

Gophers quarterback Mitch Leidner looks healthy in team drills

Gophers linebacker Cody Poock intercepted Mitch Leidner's pass and returned it 26 yards for a touchdown on the very first play of Saturday's full team drill. But things got better.
Odd couple: Gophers get defensive advice from former Badgers assistant

Odd couple: Gophers get defensive advice from former Badgers assistant

Dave Aranda flummoxed the Gophers with his deceptive blitzing strategies for three years as Wisconsin's defensive coordinator. But after taking a new job, he was open to helping a former rival.
Season of high expectations begins now for Gophers

Season of high expectations begins now for Gophers

Improvements in five categories will help determine whether the team meets the lofty goals espoused by coach Tracy Claeys, who is starting his first full season as head coach.
At home in Kansas, Tracy Claeys is a homebody -- and a hero

At home in Kansas, Tracy Claeys is a homebody -- and a hero

Amid his offseason preparation, Gophers football coach Tracy Claeys knew one sure way to stay centered. He returned to the place where he grew up as a quiet, industrious kid from a family that worked tirelessly to survive financially.
Gophers' rivals Wisconsin and Iowa talk about challenges ahead

Gophers' rivals Wisconsin and Iowa talk about challenges ahead

One day after the Gophers took their turn at Big Ten Media Days, their two border rivals were in the spotlight Tuesday, explaining their strengths and weaknesses.
Quarterback Leidner is confident after strong offseason

Quarterback Leidner is confident after strong offseason

Mitch Leidner remembers being in the weight room when he first heard he'd been projected as a first-round pick in a "Way-too-early 2017 NFL Mock Draft" by an ESPN analyst.

Former Gophers punter Mortell mourns loss of cohorts

CHICAGO – The deaths of Nebraska punter Sam Foltz and former Michigan State punter Mike Sadler hit especially hard for former Gopher Peter Mortell.This…
Big Ten football — talking about it, anyway — starts Monday

Big Ten football — talking about it, anyway — starts Monday

Big Ten media days start Monday in Chicago, and there will be heavy hearts after Nebraska punter Sam Foltz and former Michigan State punter Mike Sadler were killed in a car crash Saturday.
Gophers picked to finish near bottom of Big Ten West by media

Gophers picked to finish near bottom of Big Ten West by media

"Easier" schedule fails to inspire confidence: team picked to finish 5th in West in preseason poll.
Gophers' Beth Goetz leaving Minnesota for job at UConn

Gophers' Beth Goetz leaving Minnesota for job at UConn

She will be chief operating officer for Huskies athletics.
Lucia happy for AD who 'actually knows where Mariucci is'

Lucia happy for AD who 'actually knows where Mariucci is'

Speaking to supporters on the Gopher Road Trip, Don Lucia took a jab at former AD Norwood Teague, who was seldom seen at Mariucci Arena.
Catcher/cleanup hitter leads Gophers baseball comeback

Catcher/cleanup hitter leads Gophers baseball comeback

Junior Austin Athmann helped power Minnesota to a surprising season, and a spot in the NCAA regionals.
New Gophers AD tells Robinson: 'You are not to be on campus'

New Gophers AD tells Robinson: 'You are not to be on campus'

New athletic director Mark Coyle placed wrestling coach J Robinson on paid leave during the school's investigation into his team's alleged drug abuse.
Road trip: New AD Coyle has a first day on the job to remember

Road trip: New AD Coyle has a first day on the job to remember

On his first official day on the job, fans in Hutchinson greeted new Gophers athletic director Mark Coyle with concerns and optimism. "It's really tough staying loyal," one fan said.
Robinson's agent says U hiding truth; second probe to begin

Robinson's agent says U hiding truth; second probe to begin

The drug abuse controversy that started one week ago within the University of Minnesota wrestling team escalated again Tuesday.
Agent: Gophers wrestling coach notified AD of drug suspicions

Agent: Gophers wrestling coach notified AD of drug suspicions

J Robinson's agent disputed allegations that the Gophers wrestling coach covered up a prescription drug issue within the team, saying Robinson informed interim athletic director Beth Goetz of the situation.
Gophers baseball team back in NCAA tournament for first time since 2010

Gophers baseball team back in NCAA tournament for first time since 2010

Four days after their longtime pitching coach's death from leukemia, the Gophers arrived at their clubhouse Monday, unsure they'd get another chance to don the maroon and gold.
New Gophers AD Coyle arrives to a full agenda when he starts this week

New Gophers AD Coyle arrives to a full agenda when he starts this week

Allegations of drug abuse by wrestlers add to the new Gophers AD's long to-do list.
Robinson's Gophers wrestling coaching career could be in jeopardy

Robinson's Gophers wrestling coaching career could be in jeopardy

J Robinson, the longtime, title-winning Gophers wrestling coach, is under investigation in a drug case involving members of his team.
Gophers pitching coach Oakes remembered for values, leadership

Gophers pitching coach Oakes remembered for values, leadership

Todd Oakes, who spent 18 years as Gophers pitching coach, mentoring Twins closer Glen Perkins and others, died Thursday after a four-year battle with acute myeloid leukemia, his family confirmed. He was 55.
Gophers coach tried to handle Xanax abuse internally, source says

Gophers coach tried to handle Xanax abuse internally, source says

Minnesota wrestling coach J Robinson offered "amnesty" to any athlete who cooperated and declined to provide information to police, a wrestler says.
After fastball to the face, Gophers star Motl revels in first place

After fastball to the face, Gophers star Motl revels in first place

Thirteen months after taking an 86-miles-per-hour fastball to the face, Dan Motl is among the leaders of a team that enters the Big Ten baseball tournament Wednesday as the No. 1 seed.
Gophers baseball aims to bolster NCAA case in Big Ten tournament

Gophers baseball aims to bolster NCAA case in Big Ten tournament

Big Ten champs drop regular-season finale but enter conference tournament with lofty aspirations.
Grieving Gophers hope to honor pitching coach with Big Ten title

Grieving Gophers hope to honor pitching coach with Big Ten title

The Gophers baseball team has heavy hearts as they try to win a Big Ten championship this weekend. Pitching coach Todd Oakes this week was placed in home hospice care.
Taylor LeMay has caught on well with Gophers softball

Taylor LeMay has caught on well with Gophers softball

Taylor LeMay has started all but three games at catcher for the Gophers the past three years and is a key part of their success heading into Friday's NCAA tournament opener against North Dakota State.
Gophers' ace Groenewegen beats teams in every way possible

Gophers' ace Groenewegen beats teams in every way possible

Sara Groenewegen's two-day Big Ten tournament totals: 24 innings pitched, six earned runs, 29 strikeouts ­— and 395 pitches. Oh, and a three-run home run.
'My new university': Kill takes associate AD job at Kansas State

'My new university': Kill takes associate AD job at Kansas State

"I know my coaching career's over, and I understand that," Jerry Kill said. "But I just can't sit around and look at a lake and roll my fingers. That'd be the worst health [decision] I could ever make."
Gophers move kicker Santoso to punter

Gophers move kicker Santoso to punter

Ryan Santoso will replace Peter Mortell as the Gophers punter this fall, giving up most of the team's placekicking duties, coach Tracy Claeys said Monday.
Another fine mess: Coyle takes on tough job at the U

Another fine mess: Coyle takes on tough job at the U

New Gophers athletic director Mark Coyle said that he hasn't purposely gone seeking difficult jobs. "That's just how it's played out," he said.

Mark Coyle officially approved to be Gophers AD

Coyle, 47, received a five-year contract with a base salary of $850,000 per year. He had previously served as the Syracuse AD, but left that post after less than 11 months on the job.
Coyle's hiring 'changes discussion' about Gophers athletics

Coyle's hiring 'changes discussion' about Gophers athletics

Mark Coyle barely had time to introduce himself to Gophers coaches as their new athletics director, yet his presence already could be felt around campus.
New Gophers AD Mark Coyle will come in with plenty to do

New Gophers AD Mark Coyle will come in with plenty to do

Eric Kaler hired Coyle to help restore the Gophers' integrity, luring the former U athletics official away from Syracuse University after only 11 months there.
Richard Pitino far overspent on private jet travel, U audit finds

Richard Pitino far overspent on private jet travel, U audit finds

Gophers men's basketball coach Richard Pitino has spent twice as much on private jet travel as his contract allows since arriving at Minnesota, according to an internal university audit obtained by the Star Tribune.
Tuesday: Gophers AD search down to final 4 candidates, sources say

Tuesday: Gophers AD search down to final 4 candidates, sources say

Interim AD Beth Goetz and three outside candidates are being interviewed this week. Two sources believe president Eric Kaler could have his preferred candidate picked within a few days.
No. 23 Gophers softball gearing up for season's final push

No. 23 Gophers softball gearing up for season's final push

The hard-hitting Gophers are second in the Big Ten as the regular season schedule wraps up this weekend with a three-game series at Iowa.
'Way-too-early' mock pegs Leidner as first-round pick

'Way-too-early' mock pegs Leidner as first-round pick

Gophers quarterback Mitch Leidner had been listed as a possible 2017 draft sleeper. On Thursday, the hype went to a new level.In his "Way-too-early 2017…
Najarian, Goetz, Frazier among 9 top candidates in U AD search

Najarian, Goetz, Frazier among 9 top candidates in U AD search

Sources say a group of top candidates, consisting of interim AD Beth Goetz and eight men with Upper Midwest ties, has emerged.
Gophers getting some attention for NFL draft

Gophers getting some attention for NFL draft

Four from the U were drafted in 2015, and three could be selected in middle to late rounds this year.
Illinois coaching hire shakes up spring in Big Ten

Illinois coaching hire shakes up spring in Big Ten

Lovie Smith's arrival could revitalize the Illini, which means trouble for the Gophers and other Big Ten teams.
U's athletic director job description indicates preference for experience

U's athletic director job description indicates preference for experience

At a time when some boosters are pushing for former Gophers who've succeeded outside the college sports realm, the job description shows those candidates could face an uphill climb.
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