Left leg injury sidelines center Christenson

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 2, 2013 - 11:38 PM
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Gophers kicker Chris Hawthorne, left, shook the hand of center Jon Christenson as he was taken off the field after sustaining an unspecified leg injury in the first half.

Photo: Alan Petersime • Associated Press,

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– The Gophers suffered their first significant offensive line injury of the season in Saturday’s 42-39 victory over Indiana when starting center Jon Christenson was carted off the field because of an apparent left leg injury.

Christenson, a redshirt sophomore, was taken to a hospital, but was scheduled to meet the Gophers at the Indianapolis airport for the flight home to Minnesota. The team didn’t give any specifics on the type or severity of the leg injury.

Junior Tommy Olson, a converted guard who pushed Christenson for playing time throughout preseason camp, took over after the injury happened in the second quarter.

“I’m very proud of Tommy Olson coming in; that’s very hard to do at center,” Gophers coach Jerry Kill said. “And certainly our prayers and thoughts are with Jon Christenson.”

Kill remains in booth

Kill was back in the coaching booth for the third game in a row as he continues to work his way back from the Oct. 5 epileptic seizure that kept him from making the Michigan trip.

Tracy Claeys again served as acting head coach, but Kill had a headset on in the booth this time, and he joined Claeys at the postgame news conference.

Asked when he will return to the sideline, Kill said: “I’m not too worried about it. Everybody in the media’s all worried about it. I feel pretty good. I’m up there, and have my Diet Coke and play [chart] up there. I talk to Coach [Claeys] once in a while, talk to the offense.

“I didn’t like the way we were kicking the ball. You wouldn’t have wanted to hear that conversation.

“If it isn’t broke, why try to fix it? … I take it one day at a time. … Really, it gives me a lot of time to recruit, but I’m still coaching, I’m just relying on good people. … Right now I’m trying to conquer something that’s difficult. But I can tell you this, I’ll be coaching for a heck of a long time.”

Kill indicated he hadn’t had a seizure in three weeks and again said he plans on being able to drive in three months.

Cobb carries the load

The numbers keep getting bigger for Gophers junior running back David Cobb. After rushing for 103 and 138 yards the previous two weeks, Cobb delivered his fourth 100-yard rushing game of the season, carrying 29 times for 188 yards.

With Rodrick Williams out because of a turf toe injury and Donnell Kirkwood managing only 10 yards on four carries, the Gophers again leaned heavily on Cobb. After getting 31 carries last week against Nebraska, Cobb had 29 against Indiana.

The Hoosiers rank last in the Big Ten in rushing defense, but the Hoosiers held Cobb to 10 yards on his first seven carries before he busted a 59-yard run early in the second quarter.

“I definitely knew [the holes] would open up,” he said. “The offensive line’s been working all year, so really, it was just stay the course, like the coaches said.”

Cobb now has 803 yards this season, putting him on pace to become the Gophers’ first 1,000-yard rusher since Amir Pinnix had 1,272 in 2006.

“It means a lot confidence-wise, going into [games against] bigger and better opponents,” Cobb said. “But the receivers have done a great job for me blocking and catching the ball, and the O-line has done great, really a tremendous job, and really it’s been easy for me.”

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