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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Posts about Gophers injuries

Kill unsure if Leidner will be ready for San Jose State; Epping's ankle also a concern

Posted by: Joe Christensen Updated: September 14, 2014 - 4:02 PM

Gophers coach Jerry Kill said Sunday that he's not sure if quarterback Mitch Leidner will be ready to play in next Saturday's game against San Jose State.

Leidner played with his left knee in a brace and was seen after the 30-7 loss at TCU wearing a protective boot on his left foot. Without giving any specifics on Leidner's injuries, Kill said he'd have to see how the sophomore progresses this week.

Update: Leidner suffered a toe injury Saturday, but there were no broken bones, according to people familiar with the situation. Leidner still hopes to play against San Jose State.

Kill also mentioned that starting guard Zac Epping played with a high ankle sprain in the 30-7 loss at TCU. David Cobb played with a low-ankle sprain, and right tackle Jonah Pirsig was limited with a right shoulder injury.

Kill seemed to think Cobb and Pirsig will be fine, but the coach was admittedly concerned about Leidner and Epping's ability to continue playing through their injuries.

Kill blamed himself for the team's poor performance at TCU. He thinks this is a resilient team that will bounce right back. I'll have more on the Gophers in tonight's first editions.

Leidner listed as Gophers starting QB and not on injury report for TCU game

Posted by: Joe Christensen Updated: September 11, 2014 - 7:29 PM

Mitch Leidner is not on the Gophers official injury report this week, as the team still has him listed as its starting quarterback for Saturday's game at TCU.

The team released its injury report and depth chart following Thursday's practice.

Defensive end Alex Keith remains out with a knee injury. The Gophers now list Ben Lauer as the starting right tackle, with Jonah Pirsig as his backup.

With Nick Rallis out for the season with a torn ACL, the Gophers moved true freshman Everett Williams into his spot on the depth chart, as the second-team middle linebacker.

Kill and Streveler say they expect Leidner to play Saturday at TCU

Posted by: Joe Christensen Updated: September 10, 2014 - 7:59 PM

The Gophers continued to insist Wednesday that Mitch Leidner will be back from his knee injury for Saturday's game at TCU.

"Mitch is going to play," Coach Jerry Kill said after watching Leidner practice for the second straight day. "He's a tough kid. ... He practiced, and he practiced hard [Wednesday]. He ran around good."

Kill added: "I’m pleasantly surprised after the shot he took [against Middle Tennessee State]."

The Gophers kept Leidner from meeting with the media this week, as they do with other players coming back from injury. It was interesting, though, that they kept reporters waiting in the hallway outside their locker room Wednesday, instead of conducting interviews on the practice field, as usual.

"We didn’t limit anything [in practice with Leidner]," Kill said. "We were smart and didn't get a bunch of bodies around him or anything of that nature. He went every rep we needed to except for the live stuff, when we went against the defense, but we hold him out of that sometimes anyway."

Backup quarterback Chris Streveler also sounded convinced.

"I’m pretty confident he’s going to be playing," Streveler said. "He’s been doing well in practice, but you never know, so I’m going to be ready to go no matter what happens."

Williams says he has 'no doubt' Leidner will play at TCU; Rallis out for season

Posted by: Joe Christensen Updated: September 9, 2014 - 2:06 PM

Mitch Leidner will practice with the Gophers on Tuesday, testing his left knee injury, coach Jerry Kill said Tuesday. Kill said the Gophers need to have both Leidner and backup quarterback Chris Streveler ready to face TCU on Saturday.

"Mitch is going to go, no doubt in my mind," Gophers tight end Maxx Williams said. "Mitch is one of the toughest guys I know by far. ... I couldn’t even tell if anything was wrong with him. I don’t even really know what’s going on, all I know is he’s in there practicing with us."

Leidner got hit in the knee while releasing a pass in the fourth quarter of Saturday's 35-24 win over Middle Tennessee State. Kill didn't give specifics, but people familiar with the injury said the MRI showed a sprained medial collateral ligament, which runs along the outside of the knee. Leidner had a brace placed on the knee and was able to run forward Saturday but had trouble replicating his drop-back motion.

"We won't know until we get him out there," Kill said. "I can just tell you he's running and moving around.  He actually moved around on Sunday. So he's a tough cat."

Kill said he would limit Leidner's reps, making sure Streveler and No. 3 QB Jacques Perra get chances.

"I don't want to wear [Leidner] out and be smart," Kill said. "But we'll see how it goes. I can't guarantee anything, but I can guarantee you that he's going to practice today and that will help us determine some things. But, you know, he's tough. He's been on the phone with Jordan Lynch. Jordan is pretty tough too."

Rallis out for the season

Gophers linebacker Nick Rallis is out for the season with a knee injury, Kill said. Rallis, the team's second-string middle linebacker behind Damien Wilson, injured the knee on punt coverage Saturday.

"We pulled a redshirt off Everett [Williams], and he's got to step up," Kill said. "That's really all you do. Certainly [Rallis] can play all three [linebacker] spots. That's what made him special. I feel bad for him.  He's worked so hard and so forth."

The Gophers have now lost three players to season-ending knee injuries -- tight end Duke Anyanwu, defensive tackle Scott Ekpe and Rallis.

Leidner has a sprained MCL in his left knee, sources confirm

Posted by: Joe Christensen Updated: September 7, 2014 - 4:38 PM

Gophers quarterback Mitch Leidner has a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee, leaving his status for this week's game at TCU uncertain, sources familiar with the injury confirmed Sunday.

Leidner got hit as he released a pass in the fourth quarter of Saturday's 35-24 victory over Middle Tennessee State. His MRI showed no damage to his anterior cruciate ligament, meaning this doesn't appear to be a season-ending injury.

But depending upon the severity, an MCL sprain could sideline him for multiple weeks.

"Anytime you have a knee [injury], you’re concerned," coach Jerry Kill said Sunday. "We haven’t had a lot of good luck [with recent knee injuries]. I don’t know."

Redshirt freshman Chris Streveler finished Saturday's game at quarterback for the Gophers and would be in line to start at TCU, if Leidner can't go. Kill said true freshman walk-on Jacques Perra has climbed to No. 3 on the quarterback depth chart, behind Leidner and Streveler.

I'll have more on the Gophers quarterback situation in tonight's first editions.

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