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.
HOUSTON -- Gophers coach Jerry Kill contemplated a return to the sidelines for Friday's Texas Bowl, but decided to coach from the press box for the seventh consecutive game.
SCOUTING SYRACUSE'S OFFENSE
Syracuse sophomore quarterback Terrell Hunt had a rough October, completing just 43.1 percent of his passes for 194 yards with no touchdowns and six interceptions, as noted here by Syracuse.com. But in November, he completed 62.9 percent of his passes for 360 yards and three touchdowns. In the regular season finale against Boston College, he passed for 270 yards and rushed for 90.
"I think what makes him more challenging is he isn’t necessarily known as a dual threat," Gophers cornerback Brock Vereen said. "He doesn’t look to run first. So they can kind of lull you to sleep a little bit. He presents himself as a pocket passer, and before you know it, he’s rushing for 20 yards up the field. So we can’t fall asleep on him. He’s definitely an athlete."
SCOUTING SYRACUSE'S DEFENSE
On defense, Syracuse has several playmakers, as noted here in this story written for the Star Tribune by Stephen Bailey. Three to watch are defensive tackle Jay Bromley and linebackers Marquis Spruill and Dyshawn Davis.
"You definitely see how good they are up front," Gophers running back David Cobb said. "Their linebackers and secondary -- they all crash to the ball, and it’s not just one guy, it’s one, two, three, four. They have guys on great pursuit angles, and they don’t give up on the play. It’s a big challenge for us, but our guys up front will accept the challenge and I’ll accept the challenge, and we’ll be ready to play just like them."
Update: The Gophers will be wearing white helmets with maroon jerseys, white pants and maroon socks. Syracuse also will be unveiling new helmets -- an orange and blue blend -- with white jerseys and blue pants.
Check back here for a few other pregame notes, as well as a halftime post and game story right after the final gun. Follow along on Twitter @JoeCStrib.
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