Gophers beaten down, roughed up, suspended

A handful of players won’t play this weekend against one-loss Michigan State.

Josh Katzenstein

The already ailing Minnesota football team (1-8, 0-5 Big Ten) will play shorthanded in what could be the GophersâÄô most difficult game of the season at No. 16 Michigan State on Saturday.

Junior defensive tackle Brandon Kirksey has been suspended for SaturdayâÄôs game after acting in a way that interim head coach Jeff Horton said let the team down.

âÄúI love his passion. I love his energy. I like what he brings to the practice and the field every day,âÄù Horton said of Kirksey. âÄúThereâÄôs a right way and a wrong way to do things, and as a leader, as a captain, I thought he let us down as that person.âÄù

Horton would not go into detail about the cause for suspension, but the Twin Cities ESPN radio affiliate reported Tuesday that Kirksey threw his helmet and shouted at people inside the locker room after the Gophers lost to Ohio State last Saturday. Horton said the decision had nothing to do with KirkseyâÄôs play during practice, and he informed the junior captain of the punishment Sunday.

Kirksey has 21 tackles, including 5.5 for a loss, and a forced fumble in nine starts this year.

The Gophers will also be without defensive lineman RaShede Hageman and defensive back Michael Carter. Horton said both will sit out the remainder of the season to focus on academics.

On the offensive side, right guard Matt Carufel (knee), left tackle Dominic Alford (leg) and fullback Jon Hoese (hamstring) are all âÄúvery doubtfulâÄù for the Michigan State game. The Gophers will only have six healthy offensive linemen for the game, so Ryan Wynn will be the backup for the five starters.