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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Kill defends decision to stick with Nelson throughout Iowa loss

Posted by: Joe Christensen under Gopher quarterbacks, Gophers injuries Updated: September 29, 2013 - 1:50 PM

Gophers coach Jerry Kill said Sunday that he's been surprised with all the questions he's received for starting Philip Nelson at quarterback Saturday and sticking with him for the duration of the 23-7 loss to Iowa.

"Philip was our first-team quarterback, and he played well until he got hurt," Kill said. "And then we have the guy who’s his backup [Mitch Leidner] come in, and he does a good job, gets us some wins. But Philip comes back, and he’s healthy and ready to go. So we play him, and I get all these quarterback questions. That kind of amazes me.

"A guy loses his job if the other guy’s playing three times better than he was when he got hurt. And so we’ve got two good quarterbacks, and both of them have already had an impact on our season, and we’re 4-1, and they’ll continue to have an impact on our season. I guess that’s the best way I can put it."

Nelson completed 12 of 24 passes for 135 yards, with one touchdown, two interceptions. He also rushed nine times for minus-18 yards, including four sacks. Kill said the coaches discussed inserting Leidner for a series to "change the rhythm."

"But if you just start pulling people because they're not playing well, then you've got everybody losing confidence," Kill said.

The Gophers coaches also didn't feel like the flow of Saturday's game was conducive for a quarterback switch.

"Maybe Mitch would have went in there and changed the whole game and lit it up, I don’t know," Kill said. "But that’s the decision we make. Whether it’s right or wrong, that’s what we get paid to do, and I guess it wasn’t right yesterday. And could we have changed? Should we? Yeah, you can say we could have done a lot of things because we didn’t win the game.

"So I’m OK to be questioned for that, but we don’t have a big quarterback controversy. We’ve got a darn sophomore quarterback [Nelson] and a freshman [Leidner], and they’re both good players, and they’re both learning on the job a little bit. So that’s where we’re at with all that."

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