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 football team moved Saturday's 10 a.m., practice from TCF Bank Stadium to the Gibson-Nagurski indoor complex, but they still plan to hold their second full-contact scrimmage.
Like all spring practices, it'll be open to the public.
"It'll be similar to [last] Friday night," Coach Jerry Kill said. "Maybe not as long, a little shorter, but we’ll get some crisp work and get out."
The Gophers have been stuck inside for every spring practice, but there is still hope of playing the April 27 Spring Game at TCF Bank Stadium.
The Gophers have given Philip Nelson and Mitch Leidner a large majority of the snaps this spring, and it figures to be more of the same through the spring game. Third stringer Chris Streveler still has a lot to learn as an early enrollee.
"Chris is right where we need him to be right now as a kid coming in," Kill said. "He’s learning what to do and so forth. Right now, Philip and Mitch need to get as many reps as they can get. And really, Chris is like they were a year ago."
Continued injury concerns
Kill noted that 16 players did not practice Thursday. Unofficially, from my observation, that list included offensive linemen Ed Olson (ankle surgery), Zach Mottla (broken leg), Jonah Pirsig (knee-cap injury) and Brian Bobek (illness). All were there wearing orange non-participation jerseys.
Two players who'd been out -- LB Nick Rallis and CB Jeremy Baltazar -- were back in action.
But others wearing orange jerseys were WR Devin Crawford Tufts (reason uncertain) and WR Devon Wright (shoulder surgery), and I don't recall seeing DT Cameron Botticelli. RB James Gillum will miss the rest of the spring with a knee injury. CB Marcus Jones is recovering from knee surgery.
Kill didn't want to go through the entire list of everyone who was out and why, but it's clearly on his mind. Heading into the 11th spring practice, there were signs on the wall that said "10-0 PERSISTENCE."
"We’ve practiced well throughout spring," Kill said. "The coaches feel good about the players. The kids have worked hard and we’ve got a lot done and we’ve gotten better.
"I think the biggest concern right now is we had 16 guys not practice today. We’ve got flu, strep throat, you name it, we’ve had it. Nothing that’s going to keep us out until Aug. 1, but we’ve gotta let those kids heal. ... You want to get more physical, and you want to improve your football team, but you want to get as healthy as you can. We’re limited on some things we can do because of health issues, but every school has that in the spring."
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