Gophers notes: No. 3 QB Streveler injured, CB Derrick Wells probable
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Backup QB Chris Streveler ailing
Regardless of how the Gophers end up using sophomore starter Philip Nelson and backup Mitch Leidner Saturday afternoon at Michigan, they can at the very least breathe easier having two capable and able-bodied options at quarterback.
But coach Jerry Kill admitted on Wednesday he is concerned about his No. 3 quarterback, true freshman Chris Streveler, who injured his hand in practice this week during a passing drill.
With Streveler sidelined, fellow true freshman Conor Rhoda has taken reps with the third team offense. The former Cretin-Derham Hall high school standout has been primarily used as quarterback on the Gophers' scout team along with freshman Michael Conway.
Streveler still has his redshirt intact, but the coaching staff has openly said it wouldn't hesitate to play the Illinois native if needed this season. On campus since January, Streveler has garnered growing praise from the coaching staff with his uptick in development in the weeks following the start of fall camp.
• From both his own account and that of his coaches, Philip Nelson is a harsh critic when it comes to watching through game film of himself.
Nelson found plenty of reasons to be critical when rolling through footage from the Gophers' 23-7 loss to Iowa, which was marred by offensive woes. His frustration was largely aimed at the struggles in the passing game.
Nelson, who holds a 50.7% completion rate on the year -- albeit with the fewest passing attempts in the Big Ten, threw for 135 yards against Iowa (12-of-24), with a pair of interceptions and a bevy of missed chances sprinkled throughout.
"The reason Phil was disappointed, we were disappointed, was that there were throws there," quarterbacks coach Jim Zebrowski said. "In terms of getting receivers opening, we had some big opportunities there. The day came where we weren't necessarily doing a good job on the ground and the throws were there. We just didn't make them."
Wells limited, but probable for Saturday
• Cornerback Derrick Wells was donned in green limited contact jersey Wednesday, cautious to keep undue strain off his injured right shoulder.
Wells has had issues with his shoulder off and on since fall camp, reaggravating it against Iowa. It shouldn't keep him from playing in Saturday's battle for the Little Brown Jug at Michigan, but the Gophers are likely to keep a close eye on him.
"He wants to go and says he can go," defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys said. "It may be one of those things that he gets it dinged and has to come out for a little bit. But with (senior backup) Jeremy (Baltazar) playing better than he had been, it is kind of a good deal."
Henry's status in question
• Forced to watch the Gophers' run game stall out against Iowa's impressively stout defense from the sidelines, redshirt senior fullback Mike Henry is once again questionable for Saturday with an injury to his ribs.
The Gophers are hopeful Henry will be cleared to play Saturday. He took limited no-contact reps in practice Wednesday, which Kill remarked was a pleasant surprise.
But if Henry is unable to go, tight end Gabe Mezzenga is slated to fill the fullback role. The redshirt junior, brought in as a walk-on by former coach Tim Brewster in 2010, made his collegiate debut this season against UNLV.
Redshirt remains likely scenario for Edwards
• Kill still won't make an official statement, but as reported last week, it is increasingly obvious the Gophers intend to keep a redshirt on freshman running back Berkley Edwards.
Once an almost foregone conclusion to be part of the tailback mix this season, Edwards was tripped up by a severe knee and ankle sprain late in fall camp that caused him to miss four weeks of practice. Edwards is now back, but the missed practice time has slowed his progress.
"When you're out for as long as he was as a true freshman ... if we brought him back we would play him a bunch," Kill said. "You don't want to play a kid five plays here, four plays here and three plays there. We've got some depth at running back right. If he would have stayed healthy that would have been a different story."
Kirkwood closing in on '100 percent'
• Speaking of running backs, redshirt junior Donnell Kirkwood is "really starting to come on" in practice this, Kill said. Kirkwood his been hindered since Week 1 with an ankle sprain. But his brief appearance against Iowa and his reportedly strong showing in practice point to him having an increased role against Michigan.