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.
Mike Henry isn't on the Gophers' injured list today, and he'd be the first to tell you it's because he's not hurt. That's what he told me after we shook hands this week -- or, he shook my hand, and I shook the small pillow he was wearing on his right hand.
He broke that hand during the Syracuse game last week, and he's pretty sure it happened in the first quarter. The Gophers' fullback noticed on the sideline that his hand had swelled up, and he asked the trainers to take it for him. "It didn't hurt much. I think it was mostly adrenalin," Henry said.
X-rays later found the fracture in his hand, but only after he led tailback Donnell Kirkwood into the end zone twice. And that experience more than offsets any notion that he's too hurt to help. He's out on the Kinnick Field turf right now, his hand wrapped so it looks like he's carrying a small balloon with him. Will he play? "Absolutely," he said. "I'm not complaining."
The Gophers will play without a couple of notable players, though. MarQueis Gray was left behind in Minneapolis, in order to use his roster spot on someone healthy enough to play. Same with Andre McDonald, the freshman wide receiver who was hospitalized 10 days ago. And left guard Tommy Olson isn't here, either, his ankle still too sore to play. Jon Christenson will start in his spot.
Lots of attention has been paid to Philip Nelson and the prospect of him losing his redshirt season if Max Shortell gets hurt. But Jonah Pirsig, the offensive lineman from Blue Earth, is in the same situation. He's listed as the backup right guard this week, so it's possible the freshman may lose his redshirt as well.
That opens spot for other players on the 70-man traveling roster, and I notice wide receiver Malcolm Moulton, who is becoming an important part of the kick-coverage team, is here after missing the trip to Las Vegas.
Brock Vereen, the safety listed as "questionable" on the Gophers' injury report, is warming up. Looks like he'll play. Kickoff at 11 a.m. on ESPN2.
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