Miller: U turns to its backup plan

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 17, 2012 - 7:49 AM

MarQueis Gray could be out for a month, but Max Shortell proved Saturday he is more than ready to fill in at quarterback.

hide

Gophers quarterback Max Shortell threw a touchdown pass to Drew Goodger in the third quarter to help beat Western Michigan 28-23 on Saturday.

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

MarQueis Gray suffered a leg injury, stayed out of the Gophers' starting lineup for a couple of weeks, rested up during the bye week, and finished the season stronger and better than before.

That was in 2011. Might history repeat itself in 2012? Or will Max Shortell make that story line much more complicated?

Gray, the Gophers' starting quarterback, has been diagnosed with a high ankle sprain, coach Jerry Kill said Sunday, an injury that could keep him out of action for as long as a month. Bad as that news is, it's still a relief, Kill said, because doctors feared ligament damage to his left knee or even, initially, a broken bone.

"He got bent back, where his body was going one way" and his left leg another, Kill said. "His whole leg went completely numb."

An MRI seemed to rule out anything more serious, though athletic trainer Ed Lochrie planned further consultations over the weekend, just to double-check that the knee is OK, Kill said. And while it's too early to completely rule out Gray playing against Syracuse next Saturday night, Kill said, "with what we know and where he's at, we'll get Max ready to go and Philip [Nelson] ready to go, and go that direction until we're told differently."

High ankle sprains commonly sideline athletes for a month, and "I don't think anybody knows the degree [yet]," Kill said. Gray told the coach after the game that his injury didn't seem too serious.

"We'll see if he's swelled up," Kill said, "how he moves on Monday." But the coach pointed to Gray's timeline last year, when he suffered a serious case of turf toe during the nonconference season, as reason to believe that he might not be gone long.

"He's a tough, tough kid," Kill said. "Not very many play after a turf toe in two weeks. It's unheard of. So that tells you a little bit about how tough he is."

In that instance, Shortell filled in at Michigan, and looked like a freshman making his first start in front of a hostile audience of 111,000. He didn't drive the Gophers into Michigan territory until late in the third quarter of a 58-0 loss. He played the first three series the following week at Purdue, but Gray relieved him, and after a week off Shortell returned to his bullpen role.

Shortell hardly looked like that overmatched teenager Saturday. When he took over for the starter, he appeared to drive the Gophers down the field faster than the cart carried Gray to the locker room. He finished the day with 188 yards on 10-for-17 passing, with one interception.

"Most people that go to their second-team quarterback in situations like that don't go boom-boom and score," Kill said. "We don't with that game [without him]. It's very gratifying to see what Max did when he came in."

And what he can do during Gray's absence, too. What will Kill and his coaches do if Shortell continues to impress, if he directs the Gophers to a couple of victories in Gray's absence? That decision could be a month off. But Kill noted that Notre Dame, coached by his friend Brian Kelly, has used more than one quarterback this season, too.

"The way I was brought up, you don't look ahead," Kill said. "Where we're at right now, being 3-0, it's a good thing for our kids. I'm tremendously happy for them, but now we've got to go to the next game and move forward to that. And concentrate on that."

Injury update

Kill said cornerback Martez Shabazz, who didn't play Saturday, will miss a few weeks because of a dislocated toe.

"Shabazz is a guy we miss right now, because he was playing pretty well," the coach said. "We're OK, but we can't afford to have anybody else get damaged in the secondary."

Center Zach Mottla also is out because of an ankle injury and likely will miss another week, Kill said. But right guard Zac Epping -- "He's our best offensive lineman right now, period," Kill said -- moved over to fill in for Mottla, with Caleb Bak taking Epping's spot.

Receiver Devin Crawford-Tufts missed the latter part of Saturday's game because of severe cramps, but Kill said he's expected back against Syracuse.

Phil Miller • phil.miller@startribune.com

  • related content

  • Gophers-Western Michigan replay

    Sunday September 16, 2012

    The recap: Max Shortell jump-started a sluggish offense with three touchdown drives in relief of injured quarterback MarQueis Gray.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Cleveland 4 Suspended
Kansas City 2
Baltimore - W. Chen 6:05 PM
NY Yankees - M. Pineda
Kansas City - D. Duffy 6:05 PM
Cleveland - C. Carrasco
Seattle - J. Paxton 6:07 PM
Toronto - J. Happ
Chicago WSox - C. Bassitt 6:08 PM
Detroit - K. Lobstein
Pittsburgh - F. Liriano 6:10 PM
Atlanta - A. Harang
Houston - N. Tropeano 7:05 PM
Texas - D. Holland
St. Louis - A. Wainwright 7:05 PM
Chicago Cubs - T. Wood
Arizona - J. Collmenter 7:10 PM
Minnesota - R. Nolasco
LA Angels - C. Wilson 9:05 PM
Oakland - J. Samardzija
San Francisco - J. Peavy 9:10 PM
Los Angeles - D. Haren
Colorado - T. Matzek 9:10 PM
San Diego - E. Stults
San Diego 22 FINAL
Buffalo 10
Dallas 34 FINAL
St. Louis 31
Washington 34 FINAL
Philadelphia 37
Houston 17 FINAL
NY Giants 30
Minnesota 9 FINAL
New Orleans 20
Tennessee 7 FINAL
Cincinnati 33
Baltimore 23 FINAL
Cleveland 21
Green Bay 7 FINAL
Detroit 19
Indianapolis 44 FINAL
Jacksonville 17
Oakland 9 FINAL
New England 16
San Francisco 14 FINAL
Arizona 23
Denver 20 FINAL
Seattle 26
Kansas City 34 FINAL
Miami 15
Pittsburgh 37 FINAL
Carolina 19
Chicago 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Ottawa 12:30 PM
NY Islanders
Ottawa 5:00 PM
NY Islanders
New Jersey 6:00 PM
NY Rangers
Detroit 6:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Toronto 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Washington 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Minnesota 7:00 PM
Winnipeg
St. Louis 7:30 PM
Dallas
Anaheim 8:00 PM
Colorado
Colorado 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Los Angeles 9:00 PM
Arizona
Arizona 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(12) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(9) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 FINAL
Colorado 21
Marshall 48 FINAL
Akron 17
North Carolina 41 FINAL
(23) East Carolina 70
Army 21 FINAL
Wake Forest 24
Virginia 33 FINAL
(20) BYU 41
(6) Texas A&M 58 FINAL
SMU 6
Rutgers 31 FINAL
Navy 24
Central Mich 10 FINAL
Kansas 24
Utah 26 FINAL
Michigan 10
Florida 21 FINAL
(3) Alabama 42
Louisville 34 FINAL
FIU 3
Fla Atlantic 19 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Indiana 31 FINAL
Missouri 27
San Jose St 7 FINAL
Minnesota 24
Texas State 35 FINAL
Illinois 42
Massachusetts 7 FINAL
Penn State 48
Georgia State 14 FINAL
Washington 45
Appalachian St 20 FINAL
Southern Miss 21
(14) Miss State 34 FINAL
(17) LSU 29
Northern Ill 14 FINAL
Arkansas 52
Middle Tennessee 17 FINAL
Memphis 36
Utah State 14 FINAL
Arkansas State 21
Miami-Ohio 24 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Idaho 24 FINAL
Ohio U 36
Ball State 23 FINAL
Toledo 34
(13) So Carolina 48 FINAL
Vanderbilt 34
(4) Oklahoma 45 FINAL
West Virginia 33
Ga Southern 28 FINAL
South Alabama 6
UNLV 14 FINAL
Houston 47
Miami-Florida 31 FINAL
(21) Nebraska 41
New Mexico 38 FINAL
New Mexico St 35
Clemson 17 FINAL
(1) Florida State 23
California 45 FINAL
Arizona 49
San Diego St 7 FINAL
Oregon State 28
(2) Oregon 38 FINAL
Washington St 31
Louisiana 9 FINAL
Boise State 34
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(24) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(11) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(25) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(12) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(9) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
NC State
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(22) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(13) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
North Carolina 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Clemson
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(17) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Duke 9/27/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(8) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(21) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(18) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 23 FINAL
Hamilton 25
Calgary 15 FINAL
Montreal 31
Ottawa 32 FINAL
Saskatchewan 35
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pm
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern TBA
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close