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.
I noticed something different about Day 3 of training camp the moment I arrived at the Gibson-Nagurski practice field: the helmets.
The Gophers wore their new, dark maroon no-gloss matte helmets during the first two practices, but they were back in their old practice helmets -- which are actually last season's game helmets, minus the M sticker -- on Monday. The new ones were just being broken in early by the equipment staff, so there are no surprises on opening night. (Which is 24 days away, by the way.)
There wasn't much unusual going on during the session, though. The Gophers are still not in full pads, and won't be until Wednesday, so they are limited to non-contact, shorts-and-shoulder-pads work.
The idea is to get the playbook and technique stuff down first, and the coaches are growing a little impatient with players who are slow to master it. Head coach Jerry Kill gave freshman quarterback Mitch Leidner a brief lecture during one skelly drill, and a short time later, quarterbacks coach Jim Zybrowski loudly corrected Max Shortell after he threw a long pass into traffic. There were a couple of fumbled snaps, too, which clearly annoyed the offensive coaches.
Kill spent almost the entire day working with the newcomers, leaving the starting offense and defense to his staff.
There weren't a lot of highlight-quality plays to report, though cornerback Michael Carter stripped the ball away from tight end John Rabe at one point and recovered the fumble. And transfer receiver Isaac Fruechte caught a 40-yard pass in the far left corner of the end zone, in stride from MarQueis Gray.
Practice No. 4, still in shorts, begins at 10:30 Tuesday morning on the practice field. They'll move to TCF Bank Stadium on Friday for a scrimmage. Both are open to the public.
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