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.
All in all, it was a pretty good night for the Gophers. Not a bad way to start the season.
The defense was terrific, as Amelia Rayno writes here, but coach Jerry Kill is admittedly concerned about injuries along the defensive line.
The talent is there for Mitch Leidner; he just needs to find it, Jim Souhan writes.
Sid Hartman thinks the Gophers have plenty of room to improve.
The Gophers took a 14-0 lead into the locker room at halftime against Eastern Illinois at TCF Bank Stadium.
Mitch Leidner got off to a shaky start for the Gophers as they punted twice and fumbled once on their first three drives.
But Eastern Illinois botched two snaps, with the first one derailing its first drive and the second one giving Minnesota the ball at the Panthers’ 5-yard line.
On third-and-goal, Leidner scrambled for a 2-yard touchdown run.
Minnesota’s defense kept holding strong, and then Leidner led the Gophers on a 90-yard touchdown drive late in the half. He found Maxx Williams for a 25-yard gain and then hit Donovahn Jones, who shook a defender and raced 35 yards for a touchdown.
Leidner completed his final five passes of the half. He was 7-for-12 overall for 100 yards.
David Cobb had eight carries for 47 yards.
The Gophers had two defensive tackles get hurt in the first half -- Scott Ekpe and Yoshoub Timms. Throw in Michael Amaefula, who hasn't played, and that's three defensive linemen injured.
It looks like the rain could hold off tonight. A couple quick pregame items:
Wide receiver Drew Wolitarsky is wearing his road jersey, so it doesn't appear he'll play. Sounds like an upper body injury, near his shoulder, but it's not considered serious.
Left tackle Ben Lauer is moving around OK, considering he's coming back from a high ankle sprain. I don't think he'll play, unless there's an emergency.
And defensive end Michael Amaefula also is not expected to play, due to injury. Alex Keith will take his place with the first unit.
The Gophers are wearing their maroon helmets, gold jerseys and maroon pants. So they'll wait to debut their new gold helmets at another time.
For quicker updates, follow along on Twitter: @JoeCStrib
As the Gophers get ready to open their season tonight against Eastern Illinois (6 p.m., Big Ten Network), here's a blog post to get you up to speed. I'll be hosting a live chat at noon, so stop by there with your questions.
Meantime, here are some links to get you up to speed:
And if those stories aren't enough to whet your appetite, here's an inside look at last year's Nebraska win.
HOUSTON -- Playing their first game in 27 days, the Gophers showed serious signs of rust in the first half of their Texas Bowl matchup against Syracuse on Friday and went to the locker room trailing 7-3.
Minnesota has now played 12 consecutive quarters without an offensive touchdown.
With only a few thousand fans on hand at 71,000-seat Reliant Stadium, the Gophers tried two quarterbacks but could get nothing going offensively.
Philip Nelson started the game and played the first two series – a three-and-out, followed by a fumble by Isaac Fruechte.
Mitch Leidner took over for the third series and finished the half. It might have been injury related for Nelson, as Leidner had some shaky moments of his own. Nelson loosened up on the sidelines but didn’t return.
Syracuse went on an 11-play, 80-yard drive, capped by a 1-yard touchdown run from Jerome Smith for a 7-0 lead early in the second quarter.
Chris Hawthorne trimmed the lead to 7-3 with a 41-yard field goal at the end of the half.
Update: Jerry Kill returned to the sideline for the start of the second half. Tracy Claeys remained on the sideline, too.
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