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 freshman receiver Andre McDonald will not play in the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Houston on Friday because of a violation of team policy.
Coach Jerry Kill made the announcement this afternoon in a press release.
McDonald has 10 catches for 121 yards this season.
The Gophers' opponent, Texas Tech, will be missing three players on Friday.
The Red Raiders say the players violated undisclosed team rules.
Suspended are starting defensive back Cornelius Douglas, special teams player Chris Payne and reserve defensive lineman Leon Mackey.
Chris Thomsen is the Red Raiders' interim head coach after Tommy Tuberville left to go to Cincinnati three weeks ago. Thomsen will lead the Raiders on Friday even though Kliff Kingsbury has been hired as Tuberville's successor for next season.
Among the many tapes he analyzed Sunday, coach Jerry Kill watched the recording of his team's sideline, in order to evaluate body language of the players, coaches and staff members not on the field. And what was his opinion?
"We did a little extra running" because of it, Kill said.
The Gophers are learning quickly that their coach watches everything, and he saw some activity that he wants corrected, Kill said Tuesday.
"I thought there was a group that did a great job, and we had a group that could have done better," Kill said. "You can tell when players come off frustrated. It doesn't mean you get on them, but if you've got a kid that's frustrated, sometimes you don't se that as a coach. So then you can talk to him on Sunday, or even after the game, say, 'Hey, we understand you're a competitor, but you've got to play with great composure."
Kill said he even judged his own performance. "I did an OK job for awhile, and there were a few times I didn't do so good, either, didn't hold my composure. So we all need to be evaluated sometimes and held accountable."
Kill chased an official onto the field after USC cornerback Torin Harris intercepted Max Shortell's pass on Minnesota's final drive, and berated another official as play resumed.
"Everybody said, 'Boy, coach got after that official,' but you never know what I'm saying down there. I might have been asking him if he had a hot date that night," Kill joked, adding that he has never been flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. "Aggressive football is aggressive football, so I'm not going to moan and groan about it. You know, that kid made a good interception and he made an aggressive play, and if I was on the other side of it, we'd be coaching that aggressive play."
Brandon Kirksey has been reinstated to the Gophers' roster as expected, coach Jeff Horton said Sunday, and will play Saturday against Illinois.
Horton believes he will get one of Kirksey's best games, too, after the junior captain served a one-game suspension for a locker-room blowup following Minnesota's 52-10 loss to Ohio State.
"They've got a lot of guys from St. Louis, where he's from, so that's a big game to him. I think he'll really rebound and play well," Horton said. "He's a good kid. Just needs to channel all that energy into getting ready this week."
The Gophers keep losing games, and now they're losing players, too.
Defensive tackle Brandon Kirksey has been suspended for Saturday's game at Michigan State for unspecified reasons, Minnesota coach Jeff Horton said Tuesday. But Kirksey -- a team captain -- has already met with Horton, and th
e coach said he expects Kirksey to return to action Nov. 14 at Illinois.
Michael Carter and Ra'Shede Hageman, on the other hand, probably won't play again this season, after Horton suspended them "so they can focus on academics."
Hageman, a redshirt freshman who backed up Kirksey at defensive tackle, appeared in eight games this season and made five tackles, while Carter, a sophomore cornerback, had two interceptions and 24 tackles in seven games.
Senior offensive linemen Matt Carufel and Dom Alford, meanwhile, have been sidelined by knee injuries and will not play, leaving the Gophers with six healthy offensive linemen to cover five positions, Horton said. But it's possible that both players could still return this year, the coach added.
Defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman has been suspended for Saturday's game after an unspecified violation of coach Jeff Horton's new rules, the coach said Wednesday.
"I made some points that I expected our players to follow, what I expected out of them on and off the field and practice field," said Horton, in his first week as interim coach of the Gophers. Hageman violated those rules on Tuesday, the coach said, and will not be in uniform against Penn State.
"We will meet again on Sunday, and if he fulfills his obligations all week long like I expect him to, he will be reinstated on Sunday," Horton said.
Hageman, a reserve tackle who started the season as a defensive end and eventually was moved inside, has four tackles in seven games thus far. The remaining three tackles on the depth chart -- Brandon Kirksey, Jewhan Edwards and Austin Hahn -- will absorb Hageman's playing time this week, the coach said.
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