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.
Kim Royston pondered the Gophers' 0-2 start, and the defense's difficulties in stopping the passing game, and found reason for hope.
"Most of those yards are coming out in the first half," Royston said. "So we just have to come out there and not wait until the second half to get going."
He's got a point, and it's one reason why we should know right away on Saturday whether the Gophers have improved. Minnesota's two opponents have completed an astounding 86.5 percent of their passes (32 of 37) before halftime, rolling up 389 yards through the air. USC quarterback Matt Barkley completed 16 straight passes in Los Angeles, while New Mexico State quarterback Andrew Manley was successful on his first 14 passes last week.
The second half is significantly better, though improvement is necessary there as well. Gopher opponents are 22-for-39 in the second half, a 56.4 percent completion rate, for 203 yards.
"The defense has to work together, from the line to the linebackers to the DBs. It's a collective effort," Royston said. "We just can't give up the big plays."
The Gophers have been better at stopping the rush, ranking fifth in the Big Ten, and they've been fairly consistent between the halves. The Gophers have allowed 82 yards before halftime and 118 after.
Miami "is definitely going to be a good challenge," the senior safety said. "They throw a lot."
It's a chilly fall day at TCF Bank Stadium. No sign of Jerry Kill yet -- the Gophers' coach did not accompany his team on their march through the student tailgate this morning -- but he's expected here for the game.
UPDATE: Jerry Kill has arrived, and is standing on the field watching warmups. Carrying a water bottle with him at all times, I notice.
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