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 wide receiver Drew Wolitarsky suffered a high ankle sprain in Saturday's 28-24 loss at Illinois, and the injury could lead the team to pull a redshirt from one of its freshman receivers.
Wolitarsky had just hauled in a 35-yard pass from Mitch Leidner when his right ankle rolled under the Illinois defender. Wolitarsky limped to the sideline and was unable to put any weight on the ankle. The sophomore has 10 catches for 106 yards this season.
On his Sunday radio show on 830-AM, coach Jerry Kill said Wolitarsky's injury is "not good."
Later, Kill told the team's beat writers, "We’ve got four or five [receivers] who can play, but do you pull a redshirt off? Because if one more goes down -- you know, you’ve got five games left. That’s the whole bad thing about all that. So we’ve got a lot of work to do this week, got a lot of healing to do and a lot of work to do."
The Gophers had true freshman Jerry Gibson on their 70-man travel squad to Illinois. He has yet to play this year, but that's one redshirt that could be pulled. He can play tight end, but the Gophers had him ready to play receiver at Illinois.
The Gophers were getting true freshman wide receiver Isaiah Gentry ready to play this season before he tore an ACL. They also think highly of their three other true freshmen receivers -- Melvin Holland Jr., Conner Krizancic and Desmond Gant.
A quick rundown on the other medical news:
* RT Ben Lauer re-aggravated his ankle injury.
* Kill said RT Jonah Pirsig, TE Maxx Williams and TE Drew Goodger all threw up on the sideline during the game. RB Berkley Edwards had thrown up on Friday night.
"It’s no excuse, just the flu or whatever," Kill said.
Gophers junior Foster Bush, who has started at right guard the past nine games, dating to last season, will miss Saturday’s game against Northwestern with an unspecified injury, coach Jerry Kill said Thursday on his weekly radio show (100.3-FM).
Starting left guard Zac Epping has been playing through a high-ankle sprain, but Kill said he’s been moving around better. So it sounds like Epping will be ready to make his 40th consecutive start Saturday.
Kill said the Gophers had three guards out with injuries for last Sunday’s practice. But Joe Bjorklund is feeling better and should be ready to play against Northwestern. Isaac Hayes is another top reserve at guard.
A week off have has given the Gophers a chance to heal heading into Saturday's game against Northwestern.
Coach Jerry Kill said Tuesday that the team held 12 or 13 players out of practice last week, but several returned Sunday, and several others are due back today. David Cobb was among the players who sat out when the team practiced last Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
"He was banged up a little after the Michigan game, and we didn’t do a lot with him until Sunday," Kill said. "But Sunday he was full-speed again. He went back to work."
The bye week helped quarterback Mitch Leidner, too. He practiced last week, but the Gophers were careful to make sure he could heal his turf toe and sprained MCL.
Leidner, in fact, busted off an 85-yard run in last Thursday's practice.
"We wouldn’t play him if it was a risk or anything like that," Kill said. "I thought he moved well [against Michigan]. I don’t see anything different in practice."
The Gophers released their official injury report and depth chart Thursday evening, and there were no surprises. Quarterback Mitch Leidner (knee and toe injuries), tight end Maxx Williams (calf) and wide receiver Logan Hutton (unspecified) are all listed as questionable.
Gophers coach Jerry Kill said Tuesday that Mitch Leidner remains the team's No. 1 quarterback but just needs to get healthy, adding that he's not sure how long Leidner will be out.
Kill said backup Chris Streveler will need to be ready again this week. Leidner hasn't been able to do much this week with his injuries, but Kill said he hasn't ruled him out for Saturday's game at Michigan.
Leidner sprained the medial collateral ligament in his left knee Sept. 6 and developed turf toe in his left foot on Sept. 13.
Kill also said Marcus Jones is out with a broken hand and that Maxx Williams is questionable with a calf injury and won't practice today.
Defensive end Alex Keith (knee injury) will return to practice Tuesday for the first time since getting hurt in the season opener. Kill said he's not sure if Keith will be ready to play at Michigan.
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