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.
MarQueis Gray's passing problems seem to have disappeared. And his rushing remains as big a problem for defenses as ever.
The Gophers' senior quarterback has rushed for two touchdowns and thrown for two more, leading Minnesota to a 30-7 halftime lead over New Hampshire.
After a week of focusing on his overthrown passes at UNLV, Gray has responded with a couple of nicely thrown balls in the Gophers' home opener at TCF Bank Stadium. One was a 14-yard floater to a wide-open Isaac Fruechte for the Gophers' first score of the day. He followed that in the second quarter with a 33-yard strike across the middle to tight end John Rabe. That pass only moved the ball to the 2, but Gray hit Rabe once more on the next play, the tight end's third touchdown pass in the season's first two games.
But New Hampshire's biggest problem is when Gray doesn't pass the ball. Gray took a quarterback draw straight up the middle late in the first quarter and raced 75 yards for the longest touchdown of his collegiate career, reaching the end zone with three Wildcat defenders giving futile chase. And on Minnesota's final scoring drive of the half -- a possession set up when senior defensive end D.L. Wilhite forced a fumble on the Wildcats' 18 -- another Gray romp up the middle produced an 11-yard touchdown.
The Gophers' 30 points in the first half against FCS-level New Hampshire match the total they scored last week in three overtimes at UNLV.
The Wildcats handed Minnesota its first two points of the game, when punter Mike MacArthur fumbled a snap in the end zone. He quickly threw the ball out of the end zone for a safety.
New Hampshire had one impressive drive, a 76-yard march in eight plays, finishing with a five-yard option pitch to junior tailback Chris Setian that closed Minnesota's early lead to 9-7. But Minnesota's defense held New Hampshire scoreless in the second quarter, allowing the Gophers to build their 23-point halftime lead.
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