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.
Gophers head coach Jerry Kill headed off all talk of his health on Tuesday, opening his weekly news conference by saying he wants to return the focus to the field.
Kill, whose battle with epilepsy has been well-documented, suffered an on-field seizure at halftime of Saturday’s 29-12 victory over Western Illinois, the third time in three seasons he has been unable to finish a game because of a seizure.
“I appreciate everybody’s thoughts through the weekend … but the press conference today is about our football players and our football team who did a great job Saturday,” Kill said. “That’s Coach Kill’s decision, not anybody else’s. This game is not about a football coach, it’s about the players. I will take any questions that have to do with that.”
Kill did answer a direct question about whether he would consider coaching from the press box, saying quickly “no,” and then adding, “It wouldn't make any difference anyway,” he said.
As for the team’s QB situation, Kill said Philip Nelson, who started the first three games but injured his hamstring in the first half against Western Illinois, is only 65-70 percent healthy. Mitch Leidner went 7-for-8 passing and ran for 64 yards in leading all four TD drives in the Western Illinois victory.
“Those things, you don’t know how long they will take,” Kill said of Nelson’s injury. “We’ll be prepared to play Mitch and feel good about it.”
Leidner, a redshirt freshman, would likely see extended action even if Nelson was healthy as he continues to push Nelson for playing time. True freshman Chris Streveler will get extended reps as the backup QB in practice Tuesday, Kill said.
He also said injured RBs Berkley Edwards and Donnell Kirkwood have been cleared to return to practice full-tilt. They will battle David Cobb and Rodrick Williams, who have been effective in their absence, for playing time.
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