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.

Williams named Mackey Award finalist

Posted by: Joe Christensen under Gophers awards and honors Updated: November 25, 2014 - 5:21 PM

Gophers sophomore Maxx Williams was named one of three finalists for the Mackey Award, given annually to the nation’s top tight end.

Williams leads the Gophers in receptions (28), receiving yards (418) and receiving touchdowns (seven).

The other two finalists are Miami senior Clive Walford and Florida State senior Nick O’Leary. The winner will be announced Dec. 10.

Former Gophers tight end Matt Spaeth, now with the Pittsburgh Steelers, won the Mackey Award in 2006.

Kill says Cobb remains 'very questionable' for Wisconsin game

Posted by: Joe Christensen under Gophers injuries Updated: November 25, 2014 - 2:11 PM

Gophers coach Jerry Kill said Tuesday that running back David Cobb remains "very questionable" for Saturday's game at Wisconsin.

Kill added that Cobb would try to do some light jogging to test his strained left hamstring at Tuesday's practice.

Cobb strained the hamstring on a 17-yard touchdown run in last week’s win at Nebraska. The senior running back tweeted that night that he’d be ready for the Wisconsin game, which will determine the Big Ten title.

"That’s a great attitude because sometimes the mind -- if you’re down and negative and all that, sometimes you don’t heal up as quick," Kill said. "So I’m glad he’s positive. And hey, if he’s ready to go, we’re going to play him. There’s no doubt about that."

Cobb ranks ninth in the nation with 1,430 yards and needs just 35 more to break Laurence Maroney’s single-season school record, set in 2005.

Kill said he asked Cobb on the flight home from Nebraska if he was doing OK, and Cobb's response was, "Coach, I ain't missing this one."

Boddy-Calhoun named Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the Week

Posted by: Joe Christensen under Gophers awards and honors Updated: November 24, 2014 - 9:36 AM

Gophers cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun was named Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the Week on Monday, along with Northwestern safety Ibraheim Campbell.

Boddy-Calhoun, a junior from Wilmington, Del., had five tackles at Nebraska and saved the 28-24 win when he stripped the ball from De'Mornay Pierson-El at the 2-yard line with 1:19 remaining.

Boddy-Calhoun has created four big turnovers in the past three games. He had an interception against Iowa. He had an interception and forced a fumble at the 1-yard line against Ohio State. And the huge play at Nebraska.

"That’s as good a football play as I’ve seen in a long time," coach Jerry Kill said. "It just comes down to him wanting the ball more than that kid did. It’s unbelievable. It really is."

My bad; Miles Thomas deserves better

Posted by: Joe Christensen under NCAA: football Updated: November 24, 2014 - 10:36 AM

I'll have a correction in Tuesday's paper after writing the following on Page C5, in Monday's print editions. Under the "You might have missed" category from Saturday's win at Nebraska, I wrote:

• Fullback Miles Tarver made a big block to help spring Rodrick Williams on his 19-yard touchdown run, which came on fourth-and-1 with the Gophers trailing 24-14.

Yep, I mistakenly have former Gophers basketball player Miles Tarver playing fullback now. Brain cramp by me. It obviously should have been Miles Thomas.

Miles Thomas

I feel terrible because Thomas has been such an unsung guy anyway. Coach Jerry Kill was raving about that block Sunday and talking about how Thomas keeps getting better and better. Thomas walked on from Butler Community College and has filled the huge void left by Mike Henry's graduation.

Thomas has five receptions for 37 yards, and seemingly all of them have given the Gophers a key first down.

"Our fullback, shoot, some people don’t even know his name, what he’s done," Kill said Sunday.

And a few hours later, I proved it with what I wrote in the paper. Sheesh. My bad. I definitely regret the error.

Miles Tarver

 

Gophers climb to No. 22 in AP, coaches' polls

Posted by: Joe Christensen under Gophers awards and honors Updated: November 23, 2014 - 1:11 PM

The Gophers climbed to No. 22 in both the AP Poll and Coaches Poll on Sunday, coming off their 28-24 win at Nebraska.

This is the first time this season that they've cracked the AP Top 25. They were No. 24 in the Coaches Poll before their loss at Illinois on Oct. 25.

The Gophers (8-3, 5-2 Big Ten) have held down the No. 25 spot in the College Football Playoff rankings the past two weeks. Those rankings come out on Tuesdays.

The Gophers will play at Wisconsin (No. 14 both polls) on Saturday to determine the Big Ten West title.

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