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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Sizing up the Gophers backup quarterback options; other freshmen impressions

Posted by: Joe Christensen under Gopher quarterbacks, Gophers preseason practice Updated: August 6, 2014 - 9:48 PM

With Mitch Leidner entrenched as the No. 1 quarterback, the main QB intrigue in Gophers camp involves his backups.

Redshirt freshman Chris Streveler is the No. 2 starter. Will he be ready if Leidner gets injured? If not, next in line is Conor Rhoda, another redshirt freshman who walked on out of Cretin-Derham Hall.

Streveler, from Crystal Lake, Ill., has had up-and-down moments through the first week of practice, but he delivered the biggest offensive highlight Wednesday.

Streveler hit wide receiver Logan Hutton in stride on a skinny post for a 28-yard touchdown pass. For the celebration, Streveler ran to the end zone and jumped all over Hutton.

“Coach Kill always talks about having juice, so that was fun,” Streveler said. “It’s always fun to make a big play in practice. It was the first live period [of camp], so it was pretty sweet.”

Quarterbacks coach Jim Zebrowski said Streveler “sometimes plays better when he’s ticked.”

“I ripped him a little bit [Tuesday], and he just went crazy, [completing] throw after throw,” Zebrowski said. “He wants the ball on the next play.”

The rest of the field

Here are some quick thoughts from Zebrowski on the other Gophers quarterbacks besides Leidner and Streveler:

* On Rhoda: “Conor has a really, really strong arm and can stay in the pocket. And he’s really, really smart and can make some plays too. He can put the ball in some places some other kids can’t.”

* On Dimonic Roden-McKinzy (true freshman from Kansas City): “Kids just figure things out at different times. And for Dimonic, it’s taken him a while because things are going [fast], and him being shorter, he’s got to Russell Wilson some things. He’s got to really be perfect with his drop, really find gaps. He’s a good athlete, but he’s got to find gaps like Russell does and make things happen. For him, the curve is a little bit higher or longer. It’s going to take him a while to pick things up.

* On Jacques Perra (true freshman walk-on from Roseville): “He had some opportunities [to play elsewhere] and decided to come here. He’s a really good player. Quick release, accurate, smart kid. He’s really good. He’s done a really good job. He’s smart, and he picks things up really, really fast.”

Camp round up

* University President Eric Kaler stopped by to watch practice, wearing a gold Minnesota hat.

* Several true freshmen got chances to show their stuff during the end-of-practice scrimmage. Defensive tackle Steven Richardson got a chance to go against the first-team offense and appeared to fill his gaps very well. He's a shorter guy but weighs 291 pounds and looks like he'll be a factor. ... Cornerback Craig James delivered a huge hit to wide receiver Melvin Holland, Jr. .. Josh Parks, a walk-on running back from Chisago Lakes, also had some impressive runs.

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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.
Sep 27 - at Michigan TBA
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

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