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 defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys said Tuesday that he doesn't expect Coach Jerry Kill to be at the Northwestern game Saturday, a possibility Claeys had left open when the team announced Kill was taking a leave of absence to treat his epilepsy.
Claeys, who is serving as acting coach, filled in for Kill at Tuesday's press conference and said Mitch Leidner would start at quarterback Saturday. Claeys added that the team would like to give Philip Nelson some snaps early in the game, too.
The bye week allowed several players to heal.
Wide receiver Derrick Engel (concussion symptoms), Safety Cedric Thompson (concussion symptoms), cornerback Martez Shabazz (separated shoulder) and Derrick Wells (shoulder stinger) have all returned to practice.
Safety Brock Vereen has practiced at cornerback, just in case Wells and Shabazz aren't ready to go.
Third-string quarterback Chris Streveler remains out with a hand injury, so Conor Rhoda will be available in case something should happen to both Leidner and Nelson.
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