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.

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Scrimmage notes: Nelson separating himself from Leidner in QB battle; Jones, McDonald catch deep passes

Posted by: Joe Christensen under Gopher quarterbacks, Gophers injuries, Gophers preseason practice Updated: August 15, 2013 - 2:30 PM

The Gophers opened last Saturday’s scrimmage to the public, but today’s scrimmage at TCF Bank Stadium was closed. Coach Jerry Kill and offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover met with the media afterward. Here’s what I gleaned:

* Mitch Leidner had a better day running the second team offense than he did Saturday, but Philip Nelson has separated himself as the top quarterback option.

“I don’t think it’s a matter of Mitch not progressing,” Limegrover said. “But I think really there was kind of that light bulb moment with Philip, where you could just tell there was that extra experience.

“When you get into that second week of camp, and that grind starts hitting you, I think Philip was able to really kind of jump through that burning hoop a little bit better than Mitch was. So there was some separation, and really, Philip’s done a real nice job over the course of this last week.”

* Donovahn Jones caught a deep pass at wide receiver, and Chris Streveler had a good day running the ball at quarterback. Limegrover cautioned that a decision still hasn’t been made about the No. 3 quarterback spot, indicating Jones is still very much in that mix.

* Andre McDonald also caught a deep pass. KJ Maye, Isaac Fruechte and Derrick Engel all had good days, although Engel was removed as a precaution because of tightness in his hamstring or groin. Freshman WR Drew Wolitarsky also was held out because of hamstring tightness.

* So it sounds like there were some nice catches. But as Kill said, “We caught some and ran the other way with it, too,” indicating the defense made three nice interceptions.

* Berkley Edwards got a chance to chance to work with the first-team offense. No 70-yard runs this time, but “he had some quick-burst runs,” Kill said.

* Asked about the two junior college transfers at linebacker – Damien Wilson and De’Vondre Campbell – Kill said they were “tremendous. They’ve done a great job, both of them. That’s called getting lucky or hard work or whatever in recruiting. De’Vondre can bend and can run and is long, and it’s hard to block him. He’s very focused, doesn’t mess around, football’s important to him.

“Damien -- athletically, physically – is a very athletically gifted 250 [pounds], so they both do what you tell them to do, and one of them [Campbell] has three years [of eligibility] left; that’s even better.”
 

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