Gophers injured on offensive line

Two tackles on the team missed time in their opening game.

by Mike Hendrickson

After a 23-17 loss against No. 3 Texas Christian University on Thursday, the Gophers football team will look to rebound against Colorado State with an offensive line battling its way through 
Not only was Minnesota without projected starting left tackle Josh Campion due to a concussion, but backup Ben Lauer had to be taken out due to an injury of his own.
Lauer has not returned to practice this week, head coach Jerry Kill said Tuesday. Campion has practiced, but his status for Saturday’s game is uncertain. 
“You know, it’s two guys that have a lot of starting experience,” offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover said. “One of those two was going to be our starting left tackle going into TCU, and to really not have either one of them at 100 percent, it knocks you down.”
Kill said it’s possible redshirt junior Jonah Pirsig will start at left tackle, with Campion and redshirt senior Foster Bush switching off at right tackle. 
Limegrover said Pirsig played especially well in Thursday’s game, where he had to make the switch from right tackle to left after Lauer exited the game.
“I thought Jonah Pirsig did a phenomenal job moving over there and really held down the fort for us,” Limegrover said. “With every adversity you can find a silver lining, and I thought Jonah really did a great job.”
Lauer is nursing a knee injury and had surgery earlier this year during fall camp. He was removed from the game against TCU after missing a block that led to quarterback Mitch Leidner being sacked and fumbling the ball.
Kill said in hindsight, the Gophers should have moved Pirsig over to left tackle and brought Bush in at right tackle earlier instead of keeping Lauer in too long.
“We got Ben back, and then [he] had some reps but not a ton, and then he was still sore, so we got him out of there,” Kill said. “But that was too late. [We] made a critical mistake by not getting that done, so I don’t blame him. I blame us; I blame me, but [when] you lose two tackles like that, it’s important.”
While some of the offensive line was plagued with injuries, there were other starters who played well, including center Brian Bobek.
“[Brian] graded out well,” Limegrover said. “When you can get through a game and you don’t notice that center, no holding penalties, no fumbled exchanges, no bad [shotgun] snaps, no blow-up plays, that’s a good place to start from, so I was very pleased with how he played.”
Despite the injuries to the line, Minnesota’s offense was still able to produce.
Leidner passed for 197 yards on 19 completions, and the team rushed for 144 yards, an improvement from last year’s game with TCU.
As for Saturday against Colorado State, Leidner said he is not worried about how his offensive line will protect him.
“I think the [offensive] line will get better each week,” Leidner said. “You want to play your best front that you got, so I think they’ll do a good job once they have a good game this week.”