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.
BY PHIL MILLER
The Gophers committed two turnovers in their season opener, two too many, according to coach Jerry Kill. "We just don't have that margin for error," Kill said of MarQueis Gray's interception on the Gophers' first drive of the game, and Troy Stoudermire's fumbled punt in the fourth quarter. "We can't do those things and win. Now, we got away with it (last week), but we don't have that margin for error."
Coincidentally, the interception and fumble were both recovered by UNLV linebacker Tim Hasson, who had a great night for the Rebel defense. The Gophers won't face him this week against New Hampshire, but they will face a Wildcats defense that forced two interceptions against Holy Cross last week.
Can Gray keep the ball out of Wildcats defenders' hands? Matt Limegrover expects him to. The interception against UNLV was a mistake he can learn from, Limegrover said.
Gray looked to his left on the play, and threw a pass that didn't have much zip on it. "He didn't make the best decision," said Limegrover, the Gophers' offensive coordinator. "He had a better decision to make. But you have to give their kid (linebacker Tani Maka, who tipped the pass to Hasson) credit -- he made a great play and broke to the ball."
Gray's mistake was a split-second of hesitation as he decided to pass, Limegrover said. "He would have liked to hit that thing a little bit earlier. He just waited a fraction of a second" too long, the coach analyzed. "His eyes stayed on it just a little too long. He needs to understand, that thing's got to get out a little bit quicker."
But lost in the postgame critique, which largely blamed Gray for the offense's ineffectiveness until the final eight minutes and overtime, were the obstacles the senior quarterback faced, Limegrover said. "If anything, we had some protection issues," said Limegrover, who also coaches the offensive line. "It wasn't like he was sitting there with nobody in his face."
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