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 were banged up on the offensive line last November, when their offense grounded to a halt against Nebraska and Michigan State. The line got healthier for the bowl game, and the results showed against Texas Tech.
With this week's news that the Gophers will be without centers Zach Mottla and Brian Bobek, it might sound dicey again, but Coach Jerry Kill is actually encouraged with the depth heading into preseason camp.
"I guess the best example I can give is left tackle," Kill said during Big Ten Media Days. "Ed Olson is returning from [ankle] surgery and everything I hear, he’s doing real well. Ed’s 6-7, about 310-315 [pounds]. But right behind him, a guy who thinks he ought to be the starter, is Ben Lauer, who’s a redshirt freshman."
Lauer is listed on the roster at 6-6, 302, but he's at least an inch taller than that, maybe two.
"Marek Lenkiewicz, who’s ahead of Ben, or they’re all about the same -- he’s 6-6, 290, and he thinks he ought to be starting left tackle," Kill said. "So we have three left tackles, and last year we had one. So I think going into camp and actually being able to take 15 linemen to camp, or 17, will be the first time since I’ve been there.
"We’ve got more depth, and I think we’re stronger physically. We’re trying to get back to where [Glen] Mason was back when [Marion] Barber and all those guys were playing. Those were prolific offenses, and we’re trying to get back to that.
"Our tight ends are big, even our freshmen are 255, 265, 270 [pounds], so we’re trying to get back to being more like that from an offensive side of the ball."
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