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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Pregame: Gophers need a faster start and another strong finish against San Jose State

Posted by: Joe Christensen under Gophers game day Updated: September 21, 2013 - 10:36 AM

The Gophers have been slow starters this season, and that's something they know they must fix for today's 11 a.m. (ESPN2) kickoff against San Jose State.

Opponents have outscored the Gophers 12-6 in the first quarter, and we're talking UNLV, New Mexico State and Western Illinois. To their credit, the Gophers have rebounded to dominate the second quarter, outscoring opponents 44-16, as well as the fourth quarter -- 49-14.

"We’ve played three games, and we’ve done some very good things, but we’ve waited to do them," Gophers coach Jerry Kill said this week. "We’ve got to get out of the gate. It doesn’t matter if we play at 8 o'clock or 11, we’ve got to get out to a better start, mentally and physically, and get after it."

I think this will be a fascinating matchup against San Jose State. The Spartans' strength is throwing the ball, with potential first-round NFL draft pick David Fales rating as one of the most accurate passers in the nation. And the Gophers strength, defensively, is shutting down the pass.

It sounds like Fales gets rid of the ball quickly, so I wouldn't expect a lot of sacks for Theiren Cockran, Ra'Shede Hageman and company, but collapsing the pocket will still be critical. The Gophers are high on their secondary, and this will be a definite test.

Here's my prediction. Here's an inside look at exactly what a head coach does on game day. Here's Patrick Reusse's column on Gophers QB Mitch Leidner.

The Gophers are wearing their maroon jerseys and maroon pants.

Update: Philip Nelson has had an active pregame, throwing his usual assortment of passes. Mitch Leidner will start, but if Nelson's hamstring has healed enough this week, it's feasible that he would be the second option, allowing the Gophers to preserve Chris Streveler's redshirt.

Twitter: Follow along @JoeCStrib

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