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

Posted by: Joe Christensen under Gopher quarterbacks, Gophers injuries 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.

Halftime: Leidner and Cobb struggle, as TCU builds 24-0 lead

Posted by: Joe Christensen under Gophers game day Updated: September 13, 2014 - 4:44 PM

TCU leads the Gophers 24-0 at halftime. Minnesota looks terrible. Here are three quick takeaways:

* Mitch Leidner is really struggling. He’s out there with a brace on his left knee. The Gophers haven’t been afraid to run him. But he has thrown two interceptions and was nearly picked off two other times. He is 7-of-17 for 72 yards.

* David Cobb, who had a career-high 220 yards rushing last week, has 11 carries for 25 yards. As a team, the Gophers have just 39 yards on 22 carries. Gary Patterson’s defense is just as tough as advertised.

* TCU’s first two touchdowns came on impressive passes from Trevone Boykin to Josh Doctson – corner routes with Gophers sophomore Jalen Myrick defending. The first one was a perfect over the shoulder, 13-yard pass. The second one was a 7-yard pass that looked overthrown, but Doctson made a leaping, one-hand grab.

Pregame: Unseasonably cool weather greets Gophers at TCU

Posted by: Joe Christensen under Gophers game day Updated: September 13, 2014 - 2:17 PM

FORT WORTH, TEXAS – The big story here is the weather. It was 102 degrees here earlier in the week, but it should be cloudy and about 70 at 3 p.m., when the Gophers and TCU get started here at Amon G. Carter Stadium.

This is an impressive place, newly renovated, and seats 45,000. The field is natural grass. It's a real nice campus. Reminds me of St. Thomas, with all the light-brick buildings.

In today's preview story, I wrote about Gary Patterson’s efforts to make TCU more competitive in the Big 12, with a new, up-tempo, no-huddle offense. Jerry Kill has compared the offense’s tempo to Baylor’s. And the Horned Frogs are always very good on defense.

Here’s an inside look at the game, and my prediction.

Over at, Brett McMurphy ran the results of a weekly poll of college football coaches. This week's question: "If you had a son playing college football, and you were no longer coaching, which current FBS coach would you want him to play for?"

Forty-four coaches received votes. Kill finished third overall (behind Georgia's Mark Richt and Oklahoma's Bob Stoops). Stanford's David Shaw was fourth, and Duke's David Cutcliffe was fifth. You can bet the Gophers will use that in their recruiting efforts.

One other note: Gophers WR Drew Wolitarsky missed the first game with a  shoulder injury and played sparingly in Week 2, on special teams. He didn’t line up at wide receiver.

Kill explained this week that Wolitarsky had a poor week of practice leading up to the Middle Tennessee State game, but Wolitarsky should be good to go today.

I’ll have my eye on Mitch Leidner during pregame warmups. We’ll see how he’s moving around, etc. Check back here for updates.

Chip Scoggins is here with me. Follow us on Twitter, @ChipScoggins and @JoeCStrib.

Update: Leidner came out before warm-ups wearing a brace on his left knee and looked fine playing catch, doing short drop-backs. He jogged around the field and rode the exercise bike.

The Gophers are wearing their maroon helmets, white jerseys and gold pants. TCU has purple helmets, purple jerseys and black pants.

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

Posted by: Joe Christensen under Gophers injuries 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.

Gophers land commitment from Georgia running back

Posted by: Joe Christensen under Gopher recruiting Updated: September 11, 2014 - 3:42 PM

The Gophers added another running back to their 2015 recruiting class Thursday, when they got a verbal commitment from Shannon Brooks, from Pickens High School, in Jasper, Ga.

The 5-10, 198-pound Brooks also had a reported offer from Georgia Tech. lists him as a two-star recruit.

The Gophers now have 13 commitments for their 2015 class, including three running backs -- Brooks, James Johannesson (Fargo South) and Jonathan Femi-Cole (Vaughan, Ontario).


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