Joe Christensen covered Major League Baseball for 15 years, including three seasons 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.

Email Joe to talk about the Gophers.

Long runs by Kirkwood, Cobb and Banham highlight Gophers second spring scrimmage

Posted by: Joe Christensen under Gopher quarterbacks, Gophers spring football Updated: April 20, 2013 - 4:04 PM

Gophers running back Donnell Kirkwood set the tone for Saturday’s full-contact scrimmage on the second play, when he burst through a huge hole for a 46-yard gain.

It was the first of five runs for at least 20 yards in the team’s second scrimmage of the spring. David Cobb had a 38-yarder, Cole Banham had a 64-yarder and quarterback Mitch Leidner had runs that went for 21 and 24 yards.

“I was encouraged we popped some big plays because we didn’t have much of that last year,” offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover said.

It was less encouraging for the defense, which made big strides overall last year but still needs work against the run.

“I don’t mind seeing a run break every now and then because then we get a tackle in the secondary,” defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys said. “But at the same time, it shouldn’t get there.”

Nelson looks solid

Philip Nelson completed eight of 14 passes for 80 yards, including a 14-yard touchdown strike to Isaac Fruechte capping the first drive.

“He made some hot throws against blitzes, he kept the chains moving, he made a great touchdown throw early,” quarterbacks coach Jim Zebrowski said. “I thought he got in a great rhythm."

Leidner had some impressive runs but finished just 1-for-5 passing on the day.

“I thought Mitch played well in the [April 12] scrimmage,” Zebrowski said. “I felt like he got more reps in some tougher situations [Saturday] and did some really good things. He still ran well ... and made some good decisions.”


* Chris Hawthorne hit field goals from 28 and 36 yards during the scrimmage. Afterward, Coach Jerry Kill invited about 300 spectators onto the field to add chaos for Hawthorne’s last two kicks, and he drilled both 42-yarders, finishing a perfect day.

* Claeys said he will limit the reps for defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman, safety Brock Vereen and cornerback Derrick Wells through the April 27 spring game. The coaching staff knows their abilities and wants to be sure they are healthy heading into fall camp.

* Very cool moment at the end of practice. The crowd on the field included about 60 kids from the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota. Kill shouted encouragement to the group, telling the kids never to give up chasing their dreams. "You can do it!" Kill said. "And don't let anybody tell you that you can't do it!"


Washington - WP: D. Fister 1 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: D. Gee 0
Philadelphia - WP: S. Gonzalez 6 FINAL
Miami - LP: J. Cosart 2
Toronto - LP: J. Francis 7 FINAL
Cleveland - WP: M. Rzepczynski 10
Cincinnati - LP: J. Cueto 0 FINAL
Atlanta - WP: J. Teheran 5
Tampa Bay - LP: S. Geltz 2 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: T. Hunter 4
Chicago WSox - LP: J. Danks 3 FINAL
Minnesota - WP: R. Pressly 13
Detroit - WP: A. Sanchez 6 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Guthrie 4
Seattle - LP: C. Smith 6 FINAL
Houston - WP: P. Neshek 7
Pittsburgh - LP: R. Liz 2 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: M. Socolovich 3
Milwaukee - WP: W. Smith 5 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: P. Strop 3
Oakland - WP: S. Gray 7 FINAL
Texas - LP: Y. Gallardo 1
LA Angels - LP: J. Weaver 0 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: T. Lincecum 5
Colorado - LP: K. Kendrick 6 FINAL
San Diego - WP: J. Shields 8
Arizona 0 Top 13th Inning
Los Angeles 0
NY Yankees 0 Top 1st Inning
Boston 0
Washington 104 FINAL
Atlanta 98
Memphis 86 FINAL
Golden State 101
Tampa Bay 4 3rd Prd 18:47
Montreal 1
Minnesota 7:30 PM
Calgary 9:00 PM
Chicago 0 FINAL
Sporting Kansas City 1
Seattle 1 2nd Half
New York City 0


question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings draft selections

Weekly Question





Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters