The Gophers could have one of their top receiving targets back from injury for Saturday’s game against Iowa.
Rashad Still, who suffered a broken clavicle in the Sept. 1 season opener, has been practicing in a green non-contact jersey this week. He has a doctor’s appointment Thursday, and the Gophers are hoping he’ll be cleared for contact.
“If he gets the clearance in the morning, we will try to start to work him back in,” coach Tracy Claeys said.
The 6-5, 205-pound Still had touchdown receptions against Ohio State, Michigan and Illinois last season and started this year’s opener against Oregon State before suffering the injury.
Hardin, Buford update
Claeys remains noncommittal about whether cornerbacks KiAnte Hardin and Ray Buford will play Saturday, in their first week back from three-game suspensions.
“They’ve practiced, but I worry about the conditioning part a little bit,” Claeys said. “We’ve done some extra conditioning with those kids each of these two nights. So we’ll be careful with them [Thursday], but see where they’re at on Friday morning, but they’ve practiced well.”
Winfield steps in
In this week’s depth chart, the Gophers list freshman Antoine Winfield Jr. as a starting safety, ahead of Adekunle Ayinde.
Winfield got his first career start at Penn State last week and made eight tackles, including 1 ½ tackles for losses. The Gophers used their nickel package throughout the game against Penn State. They’re bound to use more four-defensive back sets against Iowa, but Winfield is still the new starter.
“The biggest thing now is running a show,” defensive coordinator Jay Sawvel said. “Can he do that? Can he make all those calls all game long and do that again when there are a little bit more variables? Penn State had a limited formation offense. Iowa will do a few more things.
“He’s getting there. He really is. I’m really pleased with him. I think the thing that you see in him is what we had with [Eric] Murray and [Briean] Boddy[-Calhoun] is a high intellect guy, a guy that football is like everything to. I just told him before the game on Saturday, ‘You were born for this.’ ”
• Linebackers coach Mike Sherels is doing so well healthwise, he’s been able to do more and more around the football complex each week. Claeys said the team wants to be sure Sherels’ stamina returns before he’s thrust back into his full-time role, but as Claeys said, “I think we’re getting closer.”
• Claeys said he expects linebacker Carter Coughlin (elbow) to be ready to play Saturday.
• Iowa will have its marching band at TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday. The schools have set up a reciprocal agreement, where the Gophers marching band will visit Iowa’s Kinnick Stadium next season.