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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Pregame: Gophers look to awaken offense, Johnson could start at safety

Posted by: Joe Christensen under Gophers game day Updated: October 19, 2013 - 10:36 AM

EVANSTON, ILL. -- It's a beautiful fall day here along Lake Michigan for today's game between the Gophers and Northwestern at Ryan Field.

The Gophers (4-2, 0-2 Big Ten) will need to get their offense going if they're going to beat the Wildcats (4-2, 0-2) for the first time since 2009.

Minnesota has scored 17 points or fewer in its past six Big Ten games, dating to last year, averaging just 12.3 points in that span. That includes losses to Iowa (23-7) and Michigan (42-13) this year.

Defensively, the Gophers job will be a little easier today if Northwestern QB Kain Colter and RB Venric Mark are still hobbled with ankle injuries. But the Wildcats have several other weapons.

I'm hearing Antonio Johnson could start at safety for the Gophers today, with Brock Vereen moving to cornerback. We'll see if that plays out when the game begins.

The Gophers are wearing their white jerseys and maroon pants.

Update: I did not see Mark or Colter during warmups.

Vereen lined up at cornerback and Johnson at safety with the first-team defense. Derrick Wells, who normally starts at corner, was not with that unit.

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