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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Gophers won't give Gray the Strasburg treatment

Posted by: Michael Rand under Coaching, College football, Gopher quarterbacks Updated: September 5, 2012 - 9:19 AM

     MarQueis Gray's passing was one of the most important storylines from Thursday's victory over UNLV, and I recounted his determination to fix his problem in Wednesday morning's Star Tribune.  The fix is a relatively simple one, Gray said -- he just needs to get more loft on his passes.
     "Having been a receiver, I know that's what you need -- more air under the ball and give your guy a chance to run under it," Gray said Tuesday. "That's what we're working on this week. I had too many line drives."
     But there's another issue regarding Gray's play that's worth considering, too: His running. The senior quarterback -- the Gophers' leading rusher last season -- carried the ball 17 times, more than any other Minnesota ballcarrier. (Tailbacks James Gillum had 14 carries, and Donnell Kirkwood 13.)
     Only a couple of his rushes were scrambles, Gray said; the great majority were called runs. And he gained 68 yards on those carries, an average of 4.0 yards per run that's about a yard shorter than his average a year ago.
     Gray's role changed in the fourth quarter, when the Rebels relaxed their contain-Gray strategy. Until then, a UNLV defender had been assigned to keep track of the quarterback from across the line of scrimmage, and step forward if he tried to run.
     "Most of the game, they had a guy spying me, so I had to stay in the pocket," Gray said. "But as the game wore on, they took it off, and the coaches noticed that and had me run the ball."
     And run it a lot. Eight of Gray's carries came in the fourth quarter, along with 37 of the yards.
     That's a lot of work for the 6-foot-5 senior, and Kill said after the game that he wants to be careful how much they unleash Gray early in the game, to avoid wearing him down. But the Gophers will do what's necessary to win, offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover said, and that means giving the 6-foot-5 quarterback plenty of carries. Last year, he averaged 18.1 rushes per game, albeit on a team with less depth at tailback.
     "We've never put a limit on that, because (in) our offense, you don't know if he'll carry the ball on a given play because there are so many reads. So it could be 17 (rushes) one week, 11 the next, could be 22 the following week," Limegrover said. "We're not saying hey we've got to put a cap on it. This isn't (Nationals pitcher) Stephen Strasburg -- we're not going to shut him down after so many innings. If he's got it and he's feeling it, if he's running downhill, we're not going to hold back."

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Houston 2 FINAL
St. Louis 5
Washington 9 FINAL
Atlanta 8
Miami 5 FINAL
Boston 3
Minnesota 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay 2
NY Yankees 4 FINAL
Philadelphia 1
Baltimore 4 FINAL
Toronto 5
Detroit - LP: J. Mantiply 4 FINAL
NY Mets - WP: C. Torres 5
Cincinnati 5 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 2
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Milwaukee 1
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Texas 3
Chicago WSox 0 FINAL
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Cleveland 9
Seattle 4 FINAL
Los Angeles 7
Colorado 0 FINAL
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Arizona 2
Pittsburgh 2 Top 5th Inning
NY Yankees 0
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Philadelphia 50
Miami 52 3rd Qtr 6:04
Washington 83
Toronto 67 3rd Qtr 3:09
Charlotte 73
Cleveland 38 2nd Qtr 2:36
Atlanta 51
Boston 31 2nd Qtr 10:31
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Brooklyn 18
Denver 7:30 PM
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Golden State
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Ottawa 0
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Detroit 2
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Pittsburgh 9:00 PM
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UNC Greensboro 81
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Buffalo 51
Brown 57 2nd Half 8:57
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(17) Chattanooga 68
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Michigan State 60 FINAL
(4) Maryland 70
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UT Martin 71
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(3) South Carolina 58
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Fordham 46
Miami-Florida 61 FINAL
(2) Notre Dame 77
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Iona 71
Washington St 48 FINAL
(9) Arizona State 67
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Miss Valley St 51
(23) Rutgers 57 FINAL
(24) Northwestern 62
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SIU-Edwardsville 59
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Gonzaga 70
(18) Texas A&M 65 FINAL
LSU 71
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Dayton 80
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(19) Stanford 67
Santa Clara 42 FINAL
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Kansas State 39
Harvard 63 2nd Half 1:18
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Houston 7:00 PM
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(10) Louisville 6
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UNLV 30
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Colorado 8:00 PM
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