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.
Not much to report from Monday's two-a-day practices, since they were so specialized. With a scrimmage scheduled for Tuesday morning, the Gophers were content to work on special teams during the morning session -- "I thought we punted the ball as good as we've punted it since I've been here," coach Jerry Kill said -- and other skills, like knocking down hail-mary passes in the end zone, during the afternoon.
The latter session ended with a "young-guys" scrimmage for the team's least-experienced players, since they are likely to receive fewer and fewer snaps as the season gets closer. I noticed freshman cornerback Derrick Wells break up a couple of passes during the scrimmage, and quarterback Tom Parish connect with receiver Cameron Wilson on a medium-length pass.
The most notable part of the scrimmage was who didn't take part: True freshman quarterback Max Shortell, who (like receiver Marcus Jones) gets all his playing time with the first and second teams. Shortell is only nine practices into his Gophers career, but that looked like the clearest sign yet that the coaches regard the tall Kansan as their No. 2 quarterback behind MarQueis Gray.
Best play of an otherwise uneventful day: Wilson making an impressive one-handed grab in the back of the end zone, on a 20-yard pass from Shortell, during a red zone drill.
A couple other quick notes:
-- Freshman linebacker Jephte Matilus had to be helped off the field after a midfield collision, and returned awhile later (though never practiced again) with his shoulder wrapped.
-- Senior receiver Da'Jon McKnight said he hasn't decided yet whether he will wear his knee brace during the season. Doctors have left the decision up to him, he said.
-- Tuesday's scrimmage begins at 9:50 a.m. in TCF Bank Stadium and, like all practices through Saturday, is open to the public. (Kill announced the extension of public workouts Monday.)
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