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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Posts about Gophers game day

Halftime analysis: Gophers haven't completed a pass; Cobb's been dominant

Posted by: Joe Christensen Updated: September 20, 2014 - 4:25 PM

The Gophers lead San Jose State 17-7 at halftime. Some quick takeaways:

* The Gophers have yet to complete a pass. Chris Streveler is 0-for-2. With Mitch Leidner and Maxx Williams on the sideline, they’re not being cute.

* David Cobb has carried 22 times for 149 yards. No other running back has carried the ball. Streveler has nine carries for 73 years. That’s been the whole offense. Cobb fumbled into the end zone late in the second quarter.

* Blake Jurich is no David Fales. San Jose State had an impressive offense last year with Fales threading the needle to his receivers. Jurich led one TD drive, as the Gophers had a lapse in their secondary on a 46-yard pass and missed some tackles on a bubble screen that went for a 27-yard TD. But Jurich has thrown two bad interceptions.

* San Jose State coach Ron Caragher has left himself open to second guessing, trying a 58-yard field goal, and then letting Jurich pass after Cobb’s fumble with just 29 seconds left in the half.

Pregame: Streveler to start at QB in place of Leidner; Maxx Williams won't play

Posted by: Joe Christensen Updated: September 20, 2014 - 1:48 PM

Chris Streveler will make his first career start for the Gophers on Saturday, replacing the injured Mitch Leidner, and Maxx Williams will not play, the Star Tribune has confirmed.

Leidner has a sprained MCL in his left knee, and turf toe in his left foot. Williams has a lower-body injury, but it's not to one of his knees.

Here’s my feature story on Streveler from last week. The Gophers No. 3 QB behind Leidner and Streveler is Jacques Perra, a walk-on from Roseville.

Here’s my preview story, here’s my prediction, and here’s Patrick Reusse’s column. Our live blog is up and running.

For the second straight week, an ESPN poll of the nation’s coaches has put Jerry Kill in a good light. Last week, coaches were asked to name which coach they’d want their son to play for (other than themselves). The top two choices were Georgia’s Mark Richt and Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops. Kill finished tied for third with Stanford’s David Shaw.

This week’s question asked which coach is the most underrated. The results went like this: 1. Duke’s David Cutcliffe, 2. Oregon State’s Mike Reilly, 3. East Carolina’s Ruffin McNeill, 4. Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio, and Kill was tied for fifth with Kansas State’s Bill Snyder.

Chip Scoggins is here with me in the press box. Follow us on Twitter: @JoeCStrib and @ChipScoggins

More updates to come...

Updates: Two other players who were listed as questionable -- wide receiver KJ Maye and left guard Zac Epping -- are expected to play.

The Gophers are wearing all maroon today, just as they did in last year's 43-24 win over San Jose State.

Halftime: Leidner and Cobb struggle, as TCU builds 24-0 lead

Posted by: Joe Christensen Updated: September 13, 2014 - 4:44 PM

TCU leads the Gophers 24-0 at halftime. Minnesota looks terrible. Here are three quick takeaways:

* Mitch Leidner is really struggling. He’s out there with a brace on his left knee. The Gophers haven’t been afraid to run him. But he has thrown two interceptions and was nearly picked off two other times. He is 7-of-17 for 72 yards.

* David Cobb, who had a career-high 220 yards rushing last week, has 11 carries for 25 yards. As a team, the Gophers have just 39 yards on 22 carries. Gary Patterson’s defense is just as tough as advertised.

* TCU’s first two touchdowns came on impressive passes from Trevone Boykin to Josh Doctson – corner routes with Gophers sophomore Jalen Myrick defending. The first one was a perfect over the shoulder, 13-yard pass. The second one was a 7-yard pass that looked overthrown, but Doctson made a leaping, one-hand grab.

Pregame: Unseasonably cool weather greets Gophers at TCU

Posted by: Joe Christensen Updated: September 13, 2014 - 2:17 PM

FORT WORTH, TEXAS – The big story here is the weather. It was 102 degrees here earlier in the week, but it should be cloudy and about 70 at 3 p.m., when the Gophers and TCU get started here at Amon G. Carter Stadium.

This is an impressive place, newly renovated, and seats 45,000. The field is natural grass. It's a real nice campus. Reminds me of St. Thomas, with all the light-brick buildings.

In today's preview story, I wrote about Gary Patterson’s efforts to make TCU more competitive in the Big 12, with a new, up-tempo, no-huddle offense. Jerry Kill has compared the offense’s tempo to Baylor’s. And the Horned Frogs are always very good on defense.

Here’s an inside look at the game, and my prediction.

Over at ESPN.com, Brett McMurphy ran the results of a weekly poll of college football coaches. This week's question: "If you had a son playing college football, and you were no longer coaching, which current FBS coach would you want him to play for?"

Forty-four coaches received votes. Kill finished third overall (behind Georgia's Mark Richt and Oklahoma's Bob Stoops). Stanford's David Shaw was fourth, and Duke's David Cutcliffe was fifth. You can bet the Gophers will use that in their recruiting efforts.

One other note: Gophers WR Drew Wolitarsky missed the first game with a  shoulder injury and played sparingly in Week 2, on special teams. He didn’t line up at wide receiver.

Kill explained this week that Wolitarsky had a poor week of practice leading up to the Middle Tennessee State game, but Wolitarsky should be good to go today.

I’ll have my eye on Mitch Leidner during pregame warmups. We’ll see how he’s moving around, etc. Check back here for updates.

Chip Scoggins is here with me. Follow us on Twitter, @ChipScoggins and @JoeCStrib.

Update: Leidner came out before warm-ups wearing a brace on his left knee and looked fine playing catch, doing short drop-backs. He jogged around the field and rode the exercise bike.

The Gophers are wearing their maroon helmets, white jerseys and gold pants. TCU has purple helmets, purple jerseys and black pants.

First-half analysis: Gophers lead Middle Tennessee State 28-0

Posted by: Joe Christensen Updated: September 6, 2014 - 4:12 PM

The Gophers lead Middle Tennessee State 28-0 at the half. A few takeaways:

* David Cobb has 14 carries for 111 yards (7.9 average) and a touchdown. The Gophers kept handing it to him early to set the tone, and the offensive line responded. Donnell Kirkwood burst through a huge hole for a 17-yard run, setting up his 1-yard touchdown run.

* Jalen Myrick is really fast. The sophomore cornerback had an interception negated by penalty in last week's opener. Today, he grabbed a pass from Austin Grammer and raced 31 yards for a pick six. Myrick had one of the nation's fastest 100-meter dash times as a junior at Savannah (Ga.) Christian Prep High School.

* The Gophers defense has been terrific. Beyond pitching a shutout so far, they have two interceptions, including Myrick's pick six and Damien Wilson's, which came when Theiren Cockran hit the arm of quarterback Austin Grammer. They've also forced Middle Tennessee to turn the ball over on downs twice.

* Mitch Leidner has has completed 5 of 9 passes for 67 yards. He threw a perfect 27-yard touchdown pass to Maxx Williams on the first play after Wilson's interception, but Leidner was picked off in the end zone with 21 seconds left in the half.

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