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.
He didn't make the promise, but Jerry Kill sees no reason to break it.
MarQueis Gray is the Gophers' quarterback until further notice, Kill said Thursday, fulfilling his predecessor's commitment to the 20-year-old sophomore.
"That's what he wants to do, that's what he was promised, and we're going to honor that," Minnesota's new head coach said. "He's an exciting talent, a tremendous athlete. With what we do offensively, he's an excellent fit. We lack depth in a lot of areas, but a talented quarterback is a great starting point."
It means subtracting 42 catches, 587 yards, five touchdowns and a perpetual threat from his receiving corps, and Kill acknowledged that wideout depth is already an area of concern. But the benefit of building an offense around Gray, who moved to receiver while Adam Weber quarterbacked the past two seasons, outweighed those worries, he said.
"We will always try to have an athletic quarterback, someone who can run and throw," Kill said, citing Northern Illinois quarterback Chandler Harnisch, who passed for 185.8 yards per game this season and rushed for 63.7 more, as a good model. "We'll run multiple types of offense with him. Our challenge as coaches is to make sure we get him ready."
Gray faces a challenge, too, Kill said.
"He's got to lead our team. We don't have a chance unless he does," Kill said. "I told him, 'You've got to capture these guys. You need to seize the role.' "
Kill said it's far too early to make judgments on most players; that's what spring practice will be for. But Gray, who has two years of eligibility remaining, was a special case, he said. "He's got to get started on the transition" from receiver, the coach said.
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