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.
Jerry Kill apologized during his postgame press conference.
"I'm sorry I keep saying the same things," he said. "But it's just the way things are."
By that he means: He's staying positive in the face of consistently depressing results. "We just need to keep fighting through these tough times," Kill said, "and everything will eventually get better."
It's not easy to believe, not the way the Big Ten games have unfolded. The Gophers dig such big holes for themselves, that even when they respond with improved play after halftime, it's hard to know how much of it is actual improvement, and how much is due to a bored opponent playing second-stringers.
Even Kill said his primary job right now isn't football. It's counseling.
"Right now, I'm doing less coaching and more mental support for our players than anything," he said. "It's tough right now for the kids, but we are improving and everyone is working hard to get better."
It's certainly a different approach from Tim Brewster's breakthrough-coming-any-minute-now attitude. And there is a sense that the Gophers can stay competitive -- if they can just stop making mistakes. Turnovers, penalties and misplays, they're just killing the Gophers.
Nebraska isn't the powerhouse they once were; Taylor Martinez didn't impress many on Minnesota's side with the way he floated passes to his receivers (and none of them seem to be able to catch a ball in traffic, either). But the Gophers must fix their own problems before they can think about competing with the Cornhuskers.
A couple quick notes:
-- Nebraska's 34 straight points against Minnesota not only extended their own streak to 145 straight points against the Gophers, dating back to 1984 (a stretch broken by MarQueis Gray's third-quarter touchdown), but it meant the Cornhuskers, who scored the final 28 points against Ohio State in their last game, went on a 62-0 run over two games.
-- Rex Burkhead has now rushed for 100 yards in four of his last five games.
-- The Gophers were held without a sack for the fifth time in seven games, but they didn't allow one either, a first this year. They also didn't collect a turnover; their total of four all year is last in the nation. They allowed a fumble return for a touchdown, the third time this year an opponent has scored on a turnover.
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