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.
It wasn't easy to reconcile the terror of watching a man writhing on the ground, unable to control his limbs, with the Gophers' no-reason-to-worry postgame attitude. And I can't imagine how excruciating these recurring seizures are on his family, who have gone though the horror over and over; seeing the tears streaming down his daughter's face as she watched paramedics trying to hold her father down was painful.
With the crowd standing in silent disbelief, I flashed back to something Jerry Kill's younger brother Frank said in July. "That's the only thing that worries me about him -- his health is good, his checkups are fine. But the stress of that job ... I don't know," Frank Kill said. "You know family. We worry."
I'm sure his coaches do, too. But say this for Jerry Kill -- he's trained his staff well. Because Matt Limegrover and Tracy Claeys were clearly executing the gameplan marked "Seizures" after the game.
First priority: Calm the players.
"We won't be losing our head. We know what the course of action is, and we told them that," said Limegrover, Kill's offensive coordinator for more than a decade. "For a lot of people, it's a state of shock. For us coaches, we kind of know what we need to get things done to make sure the ship stays on course."
In other words: Situation normal. Tomorrow is about reviewing film, correcting mistakes and focusing on next Saturday. Kill likes to say, "next man up" when discussing injuries, and his condition is apparently no different.
"We'll get right back to work tomorrow and start working to beat Miami of Ohio," Limegrover said.
There's plenty of mistakes to correct, now that the Gophers are 0-2 for the first time since 1992, starting with a defense that looked nothing like the unit that shut out USC in the second half a week earlier. Linebacker Mike Rallis had a 13-tackle day, but the pass-rushers got too little pressure on quarterback Andrew Manley, who hit receivers like it was a passing drill. Manley nearly challenged Matt Barkley's 16 straight completions of a week ago, but threw a bad ball after completing 12 straight passes to open the game.
Offensively, MarQueis Gray's rushing ability was used to far greater effect -- he gained 110 yards on 17 carries -- but that merely covered up the lack of a traditional running game. Duane Bennett averaged only 2.8 yards per carry and had no runs longer than six yards, and Lamonte Edwards, billed as the Gophers' physical ball-carrier, gained 11 yards on seven carries, including a no-gain on the game's critical play, a fourth down on the 1-yard line.
That's a lot of work to be done. The amazing thing is the work will go on, with or without their leader.
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