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.
The Gophers had hoped to play Ed Olson and A.J. Barker on Saturday, but neither was healthy enough during warmups to risk it, coach Jerry Kill said Sunday. In fact, Barker suffered another minor ankle sprain while trying to determine whether he could play.
The junior receiver was taken for x-rays, Kill said, after doctors suspected a bone chip might be the cause of his ankle pain, but nothing unusual was detected. Barker, whose seven touchdowns lead the Gophers, will try to practice this week after sitting out all but a mild Thursday workout last week, the coach said.
As for Olson, the junior left tackle, the Gophers intend to remain cautious, especially considering the physical defensive lines that Minnesota will face during the season's final three weeks. With Illinois, Nebraska and Michigan State still to come, "we need him to be 100 percent," Kill said. "If he's not, we'll stay with (the current offensive line). These next three games -- we're not a big, bulky offensive line -- it's going to take its toll. So we'll need him."
Kill had planned to ease Olson in on roughly half the snaps Saturday, he said, but he was still moving gingerly, "and you can't play that way."
MarQueis Gray remains hampered by his knee and ankle injuries, too, Kill said, but is healthy enough to run routes and catch passes. Gray was the Gophers' leading receiver against Michigan, with three catches for 27 yards, though a couple more passes were overthrown. The senior hasn't been healthy enough to practice at quarterback, Kill said, but when he is, the Gophers plan to work him into the game plan with occasional snaps to reduce the number of hits starting quarterback Philip Nelson takes.
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