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.
With several recruits coming to campus, the Gophers had pegged Spring Practice No. 9 for TCF Bank Stadium, hoping to enjoy some Friday Night Lights. The weather will keep them inside the Bierman facility -- for the ninth consecutive practice -- but it’ll still be a chance to scrimmage in full pads with full contact.
Thursday’s session was lighter, with just helmets, jerseys and shorts. The coaches wanted the players to save their energy the way they would the day before a regular season game.
“We’ve been hit by the flu bug pretty bad,” Coach Jerry Kill said. “We had seven or eight players that didn’t participate today. ... I’ve told them that, 'Hey, this is like the third game in the Big Ten season, and this is where we’ve struggled. We’ve gotta be able to overcome that.’ So I’ve challenged them like that, ‘[Friday] night, hey you’ve gotta get over that.’”
The Gophers had several chances to play outside last spring, but with six practices left before the April 27 spring game, it’s uncertain how many times they’ll get outside this year. Kill said the team has still been able to accomplish everything it's needed to indoors.
“The thing you can control is getting your players better,” Kill said. “You’ve gotta understand where I’ve been. We’d be shoveling snow at the two previous places [Southern Illinois and Northern Illinois], and we’d be practicing anyway, outside. We have a facility to work in, so we get our work in.
“You don’t complain about what you don’t have. You use what you have and get your kids better, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
All of the Gophers spring practices are open to the public. Last Saturday, the Gophers had people ringing the field, with numerous high school coaches in town for the state coaches clinic.
"It was a Texas Tech-type situation," Kill said. "Our kids -- we had to make sure we settled some of them down. It was an intense practice. This place was packed, and the kids got after each other, really played physical, and when you left, you said, "Hmmm, this is pretty good.' And we got out of it pretty healthy."
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