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.

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Big Ten stats tell an ugly story

Posted by: Phil Miller under College football, The Big 10 Updated: September 13, 2011 - 9:46 AM

     The Gophers return to practice today, no matter who leads it, and a check of the Big Ten statistics through two weeks demonstrates how much they have to work on.
     On offense, Minnesota ranks dead last in scoring, 11th in rushing, and 11th in pass efficiency. They are one of three Big Ten teams to complete less than half of their passes, they're tied with Michigan for most interceptions, and their third-down conversion rate is the league's worst.
     Defensively, the Gophers are ninth in scoring allowed, last in passing yards and passing efficiency, and a surprising fifth in rushing defense. They are allowing a league-worst 71.1 percent completion rate, and are the only Big Ten team without a sack.
     Special teams? Only Ohio State (0-for-2) has been worse at making field goals than the 1-for-4 Gophers (Michigan hasn't attempted one), and they are the only team that has yet to return a punt.
     They do, however, rank second in the conference in punting, averaging 43.0 yards per punt -- a drastic improvement in Dan Orseske's performance, given that the Gophers were last in the nation in punting average last season.
     Still, it's an ugly statistical reality for a team that had so much optimism a week ago.  

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