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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The Big Ten Network is sending its studio crew on a bus tour of training camps around the conference, and they arrived in Minneapolis in time for Saturday's two-a-day practices. Since it's always interesting to hear how the local team is viewed by outsiders, here's a selection of some of the observations tweeted by BTN talent after watching Gophers practice, beginning with a tweet about the team's daily moment spent remembering linebacker Gary Tinsley:
Tom Dienhart (@BTNTomDienhart):
-- Gophers all kneeled and had a moment of silence before practice. I never had seen that.
-- If there is a bigger QB in captivity than Minnesota's MarQueis Gray, show him to me. Looks like a DE!
-- Ra'Shede Hageman. Remember the name. Minnesota DT. A monster.
-- Minnesota OC Matt Limegrover is one of the more vocal and intense coaches I have seen thus far on the tour. He also is a good coach.
-- Great to talk with @go4coop at Golden Gopher practice, the best LB for Minnesota.
Gerry DiNardo (@gerrydinardo):
-- This has been the 4th time we've been to Minn since J. Kill has been the HFC-Every time things get noticeably better.
-- Just finished watching morning practice. Best way to describe it would be very productive and very smart. Veteran HFC.
-- LB depth has also improved drastically; not sure coaches could rank them 1 thru 6 at this time - good competition
-- M. Gray - perfect fit for this Off - If he plays at a high level - post season honors - Minn goes bowling in 2012
-- 1 of the keys mayb biggest key 2 season-TB position Minn will beat all match ups if the opponent has 2 defend QB/TB run game
-- Offensive line is so much deeper than it was J Kill's first spring - they are deep; developing as physical uni
-- D Line better which is major indication when building program - they will be challenged vs. down hill run in Legends
-- L. Edwards talented young LB looked good - James Manuel move from safety to LB has been a great move
-- 3 O Lineman that jumped out-I. Hayes, B. Lauer, J. Pirsig are big part of future - Hayes furthest along - could play
-- Overall what J. Kill brings is a template 2 win by maximizing his resources-this becomes more obvious with every visit
Howard Griffith (@HowardGriffith):
-- Ran into One of the all-time greats in Gophers history RB. Darrell Thompson at practice this morning.
-- DT. Ra'Shede Hageman at 6'6 300 has all the ability to be the most disruptive player on the field in 2012.
Dave Revsine (@BTNDaveRevsine):
-- Hard not to be blown away by MarQuies Gray physically. Showing some nice touch in pass shell drill.Shortell 2nd QB taking snaps.
-- To those asking about RB's - will ask coaches - but seems like "by committee." Cobb, Wright, Kirkwood have all had nice moments
-- Howard likes the looks of Jonah Pirsig - frosh OL. Also very impressed w Hageman's athleticism - maybe he puts it together this yr
-- Yes - they are definitely improved.Would be shocked if their win total doesn't go up.
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