Gophers set at QB and kicker, but four competing to punt

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 28, 2013 - 1:06 AM

University of Minnesota punter Christian Eldred.

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger


Wisconsin, Penn State and Indiana have yet to announce their starting quarterbacks for this week’s season openers.

Gophers coach Jerry Kill isn’t sitting on news that big, having said Philip Nelson will be the starting quarterback, but the coach has yet to name all of his kicking specialists for Thursday’s game against UNLV.

Chris Hawthorne was listed No. 1 on the placekicker depth chart released Tuesday night, but the punter spot is still very much open.

On his weekly radio show, Kill reiterated that Hawthorne, a senior has had a good camp. As for punting duties, Kill said, “Pete Mortell’s done an excellent job in camp. Ryan Santoso’s got a big leg, but as I say, he’s still a freshman, so he’s got to keep working. Dan Orseske had a nice camp, Christian Eldred — they’ve all done a nice job.”

Eldred handled most of the punting duties last year, averaging 38.1 yards.

“[Special teams is] probably the biggest decision that we have left on the table right now,” Kill said.

“As a staff we’ll make that decision [Wednesday]. That, to me, that’s worth two ballgames this year, without a doubt.

“We’re going to have to win one with a field goal or two, and we’re going to have to punt out of a critical situation, like we had against Texas Tech and didn’t get it done. I mean you have to be able to change field position, that’s so important.”

Santoso, who competed to handle all three special teams duties — field goals, kickoffs and punting — is a true freshman on scholarship.

In Tuesday’s Big Ten teleconference, Kill said Santoso “had a good camp for a freshman” and has a “big strong leg” but noted how difficult it is to both kick and punt.


Hiking student support

It’s Welcome Week for more than 5,000 new students at the U, with fall semester set to begin next Tuesday. Kill and athletic director Norwood Teague will speak Wednesday night at a pep rally at TCF Bank Stadium, where the students are invited to gather for a “Class of 2017” picture.

“That excites me to get the opportunity to put myself in front of the freshmen and to let them know how important they are to us,” Kill said.

Like last year, every new student will receive a free ticket to the home opener, along with a meal voucher. After selling 10,000 student season tickets when TCF Bank Stadium opened in 2009, the Gophers saw that number drop to 7,800 in 2010 and then to 3,888 last year. It’ll be interesting to see how many are sold this year after school starts.


• Freshman running back Berkley Edwards will miss Thursday’s opener because of a sprained ankle but could be ready to return for next week’s game at New Mexico State, Kill said.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


St. Louis 3 Top 4th Inning
Washington 0
Toronto 3 Bottom 3rd Inning
Cleveland 0
LA Angels 1 Top 3rd Inning
Detroit 2
Baltimore 1 Bottom 1st Inning
Boston 0
Minnesota - K. Correia 1:10 PM
Kansas City - B. Chen
Cincinnati - T. Cingrani 1:20 PM
Chicago Cubs - E. Jackson
Houston - B. Oberholtzer 3:05 PM
Oakland - S. Kazmir
Milwaukee - M. Garza 6:05 PM
Pittsburgh - W. Rodriguez
Atlanta - E. Santana 6:10 PM
NY Mets - B. Colon
NY Yankees - I. Nova 6:10 PM
Tampa Bay - C. Archer
Seattle - R. Elias 6:10 PM
Miami - H. Alvarez
Chicago WSox - J. Quintana 7:05 PM
Texas - C. Lewis
Philadelphia - K. Kendrick 7:10 PM
Colorado - J. Lyles
Arizona - M. Bolsinger 7:10 PM
Los Angeles - D. Haren
San Francisco - T. Hudson 7:40 PM
San Diego - E. Stults
Brooklyn 50 3rd Qtr
Toronto 46
Golden State 2:30 PM
LA Clippers
Atlanta 6:00 PM
Memphis 8:30 PM
Oklahoma City
Chicago 2:00 PM
St. Louis
Columbus 6:00 PM
Minnesota 8:30 PM
Houston 3:00 PM
New England 3:00 PM
San Jose 5:00 PM
Los Angeles 6:00 PM
Vancouver FC
D.C. 6:30 PM
Toronto FC 7:30 PM
FC Dallas
Montreal 7:30 PM
Sporting Kansas City
Portland 8:30 PM
Real Salt Lake
Seattle 9:30 PM
Chivas USA
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Grade the Gophers men's hockey season

Weekly Question