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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
Gophers have four prep quarterbacks who'll fill holes for team elsewhere

Gophers have four prep quarterbacks who'll fill holes for team elsewhere

Four of Wednesday's signees played quarterback in high school but will move to other positions. "Most times that [quarterback] is the best player at a lot of places," Gophers coach Tracy Claeys said.
Claeys stamps his image on first Gophers recruiting class

Claeys stamps his image on first Gophers recruiting class

After getting 20 official commitments to play football for Minnesota next year, coach Tracy Claeys said he's looking for the Gophers to add "explosion, size, strength and attitude."
Will in-state talent save Gophers 2016 recruiting class?

Will in-state talent save Gophers 2016 recruiting class?

Minnesota produced 14 players this year who will sign scholarship agreements with Power Five conference schools. The Gophers nabbed eight of them.
Super Preps: Coughlin keeps it in the family with decision to play for Gophers football

Super Preps: Coughlin keeps it in the family with decision to play for Gophers football

Despite tempting football offers, Carter Coughlin chose to continue his clan's Gophers legacy
Despite defections, Gophers recruiting class still thought to be strong

Despite defections, Gophers recruiting class still thought to be strong

Nine recruits have decommitted from the Gophers football program since Jerry Kill retired in late October, but new coach Tracy Claeys has added several key commitments, too.
Jay Johnson brings successful résumé to Gophers as offensive coordinator

Jay Johnson brings successful résumé to Gophers as offensive coordinator

Jay Johnson's offenses set records at last two stops.

Gophers to make Jay Sawvel defensive coordinator

If they formed a band, they could call it "Tracy Claeys and the Two Jays."Claeys introduced Jay Johnson as the Gophers' new offensive coordinator…
Gophers third-string QB Jacques Perra to transfer

Gophers third-string QB Jacques Perra to transfer

The ex-Roseville prep star is unsure where he will go.
Once Wisconsin's savior, Bart Miller must now rescue Gophers' line

Once Wisconsin's savior, Bart Miller must now rescue Gophers' line

Tracy Claeys is hoping Bart Miller can work his coaching magic again.
Gophers QB Mitch Leidner will be limited until summer after foot surgery

Gophers QB Mitch Leidner will be limited until summer after foot surgery

Gophers quarterback Mitch Leidner had successful left foot surgery Wednesday and should take about four months to heal, the team announced."Mitch's surgery went well,"…
New boss of Gophers offense will keep 'em guessing

New boss of Gophers offense will keep 'em guessing

Jay Johnson's former QB expects balance and an easy transition for Gophers.
Three more players leave Gophers football program

Three more players leave Gophers football program

Craig James, Desmond Gant are transferring. Berkley Edwards might focus on track and field.
Leidner leads Gophers rally to win Quick Lane Bowl

Leidner leads Gophers rally to win Quick Lane Bowl

The junior quarterback scored a decisive fourth-quarter touchdown against Central Michigan, ending the program's seven-game bowl slide.
Claeys picks new offensive coordinator, fills out coaching staff

Claeys picks new offensive coordinator, fills out coaching staff

Gophers coach Tracy Claeys has picked Minnesota native Jay Johnson to be his next offensive coordinator, and former Wisconsin offensive line coach Bart Miller to hold that role with the program.
Bloated bowl season a bonus for Gophers' bank accounts

Bloated bowl season a bonus for Gophers' bank accounts

Big schools typically make money on bowl appearances, even in Detroit.
Leidner's pending surgery will limit him in spring practice

Leidner's pending surgery will limit him in spring practice

The Gophers quarterback has been playing with an injured left foot this season but hasn't missed a game.
Gophers football notes: RB Smith is ready to return to action

Gophers football notes: RB Smith is ready to return to action

Gophers freshmen Shannon Brooks and Rodney Smith have combined to rush for 1,240 yards this season, and that total could be higher if Smith hadn't sprained his right ankle.
'Hard time adjusting' — former Washburn star Jones leaving Gophers

'Hard time adjusting' — former Washburn star Jones leaving Gophers

Former Minneapolis Washburn star running back is transferring to a junior college in Iowa after struggling on and off the field. Coach Tracy Claeys called him "a great kid" and would welcome him back.
Busy day of additions for Gophers football

Busy day of additions for Gophers football

Former East Ridge quarterback Seth Green was one of seven recruits who officially signed to play for the Gophers on Wednesday, with plans to enroll at the university next month and participate in spring practice.
Central Michigan, Gophers' bowl foe, can pass and defend against the pass

Central Michigan, Gophers' bowl foe, can pass and defend against the pass

The Chippewas will present definite challenges with their passing offense and passing defense.

Chaska's Kegel becomes fifth recruit to decommit from U

Chaska offensive lineman Matt Kegel announced Tuesday that he is decommitting from the Gophers.The 6-6, 300-pound Kegel is a consensus three-star recruit who also had…
Green's switch from Oregon to Gophers highlights big weekend for U football

Green's switch from Oregon to Gophers highlights big weekend for U football

Former East Ridge standout quarterback Seth Green committed to the Gophers along with four others, including former Viking Antoine Winfield's son.
Unlike Nebraska, Gophers coaches to get bowl bonuses for five-win season

Unlike Nebraska, Gophers coaches to get bowl bonuses for five-win season

Since Jerry Kill coached seven of this season's 12 games, he'll get 58 percent of his bonus. Tracy Claeys, who coached the final five games, will get the remaining 42 percent.
Gophers have Seth Green back in their QB recruiting mix

Gophers have Seth Green back in their QB recruiting mix

According to sources, the Gophers would welcome Green as part of their 2016 recruiting class, but they also don't want him to think his decision will make or break them.
Academic improvement gets U to bowl despite losing football record

Academic improvement gets U to bowl despite losing football record

The Gophers bid to the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit against Central Michigan was made possible because of the team's improvement in the classroom.
Gophers will get bowl invitation Sunday

Gophers will get bowl invitation Sunday

The U will be one of three teams with 5-7 records to play in the postseason. Which bowl is uncertain.
Coaching shuffle leads to lost recruits, rankings drop for Gophers

Coaching shuffle leads to lost recruits, rankings drop for Gophers

Four recruits have decommitted from the Gophers football team since Nov. 22 but, according to sources, only one of those losses stung coach Tracy Claeys.
Gophers still have good chance for a lower-tier bowl

Gophers still have good chance for a lower-tier bowl

While an invite to a lower-tier bowl might not seem like a big positive, one advantage to earning a trip to any bowl game is that teams are given 15 additional practices.
Despite firings, don't expect a new-look Gophers offense

Despite firings, don't expect a new-look Gophers offense

"I love 75-80 percent of what we do," Tracy Claeys said. "This isn't going to be a total overhaul." But there were reasons he felt a change had to be made.

With Gophers, Dan O'Brien goes back to his coaching roots

The U administrator will fill an opening on defensive staff.
Claeys swings the ax: Fires Limegrover, quarterbacks coach

Claeys swings the ax: Fires Limegrover, quarterbacks coach

When Jerry Kill retired, Tracy Claeys quickly hinted that offensive staff changes could be coming if he were hired to keep the job. The move breaks up a staff known for its continuity.

O'Brien named Gophers assistant for defensive backs, special teams

Tracy Claeys filled a defensive coach opening Monday by getting longtime Gophers athletics administrator Dan O'Brien to return to his roots.
Season over? Gophers miss out on Axe, bowl forecast is gloomy

Season over? Gophers miss out on Axe, bowl forecast is gloomy

The Gophers lost 31-21 on Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium to finish the regular season 5-7. It was their 12th straight defeat to the Badgers in the battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe.
Gophers notes: Lauer, Bobek won't return next year

Gophers notes: Lauer, Bobek won't return next year

The Gophers offensive line definitely will have a different look next season after two potential returning starters — Ben Lauer and Brian Bobek — both retired Saturday.
Bowl bid would be nice, but Gophers want the Axe

Bowl bid would be nice, but Gophers want the Axe

Saturday afternoon's game at TCF Bank Stadium is Minnesota's best chance to beat Wisconsin in six years, according to the point spread. For Coach Tracy Claeys and the Gophers, reclaiming the Axe easily would trump a bowl bid.
College Football Insider: Harbaugh, Meyer set to revive rivalry

College Football Insider: Harbaugh, Meyer set to revive rivalry

Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh get ready for their first clash in the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry Saturday.
Bush's attitude helps Gophers offensive line

Bush's attitude helps Gophers offensive line

Foster Bush hails from Menasha, Wis. The 6-5, 320-pound senior didn't get any other Big Ten offers coming out of high school, but he's made an impact at Minnesota.
Gophers lose two football recruits

Gophers lose two football recruits

The Gophers football team has had two players decommit from its 2016 recruiting class in recent days, according to multiple recruiting sites.Andre Polk, a…
Bold play must match Gophers' bold talk vs. Wisconsin in regular season finale

Bold play must match Gophers' bold talk vs. Wisconsin in regular season finale

The Gophers must solve the nation's top scoring defense, as the Badgers have allowed only 12.4 points per game. Gophers offensive lineman Jon Christenson is confident.
Gophers hoping to stick an Axe in their season

Gophers hoping to stick an Axe in their season

The Gophers are 0-11 against Wisconsin since they last defeated the Badgers in 2003, but Saturday will be Minnesota's best chance in years.
Gophers' win is a triumph, but not a trophy

Gophers' win is a triumph, but not a trophy

Tracy Claeys' first win as Gophers' head coach put a bowl bid and Paul Bunyan's axe at stake next week vs. Wisconsin.
Gophers notes: Banged-up Leidner adamant he'll play against Wisconsin

Gophers notes: Banged-up Leidner adamant he'll play against Wisconsin

Mitch Leidner was left bloodied and limping after Saturday's win but insists he'll play next week.
Mitch Leidner is beat up but not beat down

Mitch Leidner is beat up but not beat down

Mitch Leidner's toughness helps him change perceptions from the beginning of the year.
Gophers notes: Claeys likes playing in the elements

Gophers notes: Claeys likes playing in the elements

Gophers coach Tracy Claeys likes the way the regular-season schedule finishes with two home games against Illinois and Wisconsin, in the elements, at TCF Bank Stadium.
Leaky, ailing defense latest concerns for Gophers football

Leaky, ailing defense latest concerns for Gophers football

It's been awhile since the Gophers' primary concern was their defense, but that's the situation heading into an important home game Saturday against Illinois.
Gophers offense loosening up after Claeys replaces Kill

Gophers offense loosening up after Claeys replaces Kill

If Gophers offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover seems less inhibited with his play-calling now that Jerry Kill has retired, that's not a coincidence.
Gophers football notes: Mounting injury tally is hard to ignore

Gophers football notes: Mounting injury tally is hard to ignore

Tracy Claeys has found since replacing retired coach Jerry Kill, it's nearly impossible to talk about this team in big-picture terms without stating the obvious: Injuries are mounting.
No shortage of story lines for Gophers-Hawkeyes

No shortage of story lines for Gophers-Hawkeyes

Saturday's battle for the Floyd of Rosedale trophy could mean perfection for Iowa or spark a bid for a bowl berth for Minnesota.
Latest twist in Jeff Jones' Gophers saga: Moving from running back to defense

Latest twist in Jeff Jones' Gophers saga: Moving from running back to defense

This has turned into a lost freshman season with the Gophers for once-heralded recruit Jeff Jones, and now there's another twist.Jones has spent recent…
Gophers notes: Myrick out of hospital, likely out for season

Gophers notes: Myrick out of hospital, likely out for season

Last week, Claeys said it would be best for everyone involved if a decision were made by mid-November. The coaches are scheduled to hit the road recruiting Nov. 29, the day after the regular-season finale against Wisconsin.
Stalled Gophers ground attack runs up against Iowa

Stalled Gophers ground attack runs up against Iowa

One of Matt Limegrover's worst days as Gophers offensive coordinator came against Iowa two years ago, when Minnesota was held to 30 rushing yards and seven points.
Claeys may lose 'interim' label as Gophers enter stretch run

Claeys may lose 'interim' label as Gophers enter stretch run

There were indications Sunday that the University of Minnesota will try this week to secure an agreement to make Tracy Claeys head football coach, removing his interim tag.
Too little, too late as Gophers fall 28-14 to Ohio State

Too little, too late as Gophers fall 28-14 to Ohio State

The Gophers trailed early and came up short in their comeback effort against the Buckeyes.
Gophers notes: Jashon Cornell sidelined by Ohio State's abundance of talent

Gophers notes: Jashon Cornell sidelined by Ohio State's abundance of talent

Cornell will redshirt, as will most members of this Ohio State recruiting class.
Claeys says clock is ticking on making hire

Claeys says clock is ticking on making hire

Gophers interim football coach Tracy Claeys has said he doesn't want to pressure the university administration to rush its decision about his staff's future. But Claeys also has an eye on the recruiting calendar.
No time for Gophers to dwell: No. 1 Ohio State awaits

No time for Gophers to dwell: No. 1 Ohio State awaits

The Gophers pushed heavily favored Michigan, only to lose 29-26 last week. If Tracy Claeys' squad follows that disappointment with the proverbial letdown, it could make for a long Saturday when the Gophers visit No. 1 Ohio State.
Kill hopeful that Claeys soon will be hired as Gophers permanent head coach

Kill hopeful that Claeys soon will be hired as Gophers permanent head coach

Former Gophers coach Jerry Kill said in a radio interview that he's "hopeful" Tracy Claeys will be named the team's permanent head coach…
Gophers coach: Mortell injury led to punting switch

Gophers coach: Mortell injury led to punting switch

Gophers special teams coach Jay Sawvel said Tuesday that the decision to use Ryan Santoso — instead of All-Big Ten punter Peter Mortell — for a key punt in last week's Michigan loss was indeed injury-related.
Gophers offense gave a ray of hope amid clouds of Michigan loss

Gophers offense gave a ray of hope amid clouds of Michigan loss

Gut-wrenching finish aside, quarterback Mitch Leidner had the U offense humming vs. Michigan.
Gophers notes: Claeys doesn't regret benching punter

Gophers notes: Claeys doesn't regret benching punter

Gophers interim coach Tracy Claeys on Sunday stood by his decision not to use All-Big Ten punter Peter Mortell for a key punt in the fourth quarter of Saturday's 29-26 loss to Michigan.
Gophers notes: Leidner embraces chance to honor Kill

Gophers notes: Leidner embraces chance to honor Kill

Gophers quarterback Mitch Leidner finished the coin toss at midfield, grabbed a maroon "Jerrysota" flag, ran into the end zone in front of the student section, and headed to the sideline to wave it some more.
Last-second play denied, Gophers lose heartbreaker to Michigan

Last-second play denied, Gophers lose heartbreaker to Michigan

Mitch Leidner's quarterback draw from the 1-yard line was denied on the final play of the game, and the Gophers fell 29-26 after a rollercoaster week.
Michigan game begins rough stretch for interim coach Claeys

Michigan game begins rough stretch for interim coach Claeys

Three ranked rivals await Tracy Claeys at the start of his second fill-in stint as Gophers football coach.

Kill fallout: Contracts offered, roles changed for assistants

One side effect of Gophers coach Jerry Kill's retirement Wednesday is it automatically terminated the contracts of the remaining nine top assistant coaches, under the language of those deals.
Gophers coach Kill retires immediately for his health

Gophers coach Kill retires immediately for his health

During a news conference, Jerry Kill said doctors advised him to step away for his long-term health. Associate head coach Tracy Claeys will take over as interim coach.
Gophers turn to Claeys to lead football team after Kill retires

Gophers turn to Claeys to lead football team after Kill retires

Interim athletic director Beth Goetz gave no specific timeline for the search but made it clear she has full confidence in Tracy Claeys.
After bye week, Gophers football eyes better defensive performance vs. Michigan

After bye week, Gophers football eyes better defensive performance vs. Michigan

The Gophers fell to Nebraska 48-25 in their last game and now face Michigan.
Gophers' festive weekend would be capped by retaining Little Brown Jug

Gophers' festive weekend would be capped by retaining Little Brown Jug

Winning the Little Brown Jug is one thing. Keeping it is another. A Halloween victory over Michigan — no easy task — would also be a recruiting boon.
College Football Insider: Can 'Kirk 3.0' and Iowa run the table?

College Football Insider: Can 'Kirk 3.0' and Iowa run the table?

Little changes are adding up big for the 7-0 Hawkeyes.
Gophers safety Damarius Travis could seek redshirt season

Gophers safety Damarius Travis could seek redshirt season

The Gophers senior safety pulled a hamstring in the season opener vs. TCU.
Gophers, Michigan deal with different types of painful losses

Gophers, Michigan deal with different types of painful losses

Both teams have a bye this week, and anybody who followed Saturday's action knows Jerry Kill and Jim Harbaugh have big coaching jobs to do. For different reasons, each team's psyche took a major hit.
QB Leidner did his job for Gophers, then crushed his thumb

QB Leidner did his job for Gophers, then crushed his thumb

Mitch Leidner's non-throwing thumb was crushed on a hit between two defenders, requiring medical attention.
Doubters motivate Gophers against Huskers

Doubters motivate Gophers against Huskers

Opinions aside, the Gophers have beaten Nebraska the past two seasons. Can the U keep rewriting the script?
Gophers emerging tight end Lingen draws praise

Gophers emerging tight end Lingen draws praise

Mitch Leidner says Brandon Lingen's route-running might be better than Maxx Williams'.
Former Washburn star Jeff Jones remains sidelined for Gophers

Former Washburn star Jeff Jones remains sidelined for Gophers

Jones played against TCU, Kent State and Ohio, getting a few chances to line up on offense, and playing some special teams. He has missed the past two games.
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