Mere minutes after the Gophers’ 14-3 loss to Michigan State on Saturday in East Lansing, Mich., head coach Jerry Kill walked into a trailer that had been converted into a makeshift media room.
That trailer was stuffed with reporters who had just witnessed what Kill called a “very physical football game.” Minnesota played a hard-nosed brand of football that kept the team in the contest until the final minutes.
That brand also resulted in a couple of key injuries.
In the game, several Gophers players, including sophomore quarterback Philip Nelson and senior defensive back Brock Vereen, left with injuries.
Kill was asked about the injuries after the game but didn’t provide a clear update.
“I’m not going to give any updates in fairness to that,” he said. “I got in the locker room and said, ‘How are you doing?’
“[Nelson] said, ‘I’m doing OK, coach.’ … I haven’t talked to the trainer or anything like that.”
Kill said Sunday he still didn’t know Nelson or Vereen’s status.
Standout senior defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman said that in the heat of a game in which he batted down a pass and recovered a fumble, he had no idea Vereen was hurt.
“I didn’t even know what happened,” Hageman said. “I’m just so focused in the game. … I hope he gets better and he’s able to recover over the few weeks that we have to rest.”
Gophers junior cornerback Derrick Wells filled the void left by Vereen. He made an impact right away, intercepting a pass at the end of the first half.
Wells said he expects Vereen, the Gophers’ vocal leader on defense, to be ready for the bowl game in the coming weeks.
“He’s all right. I think his shoulder is just a little numb,” Wells said Saturday. “He’ll be back.”
Wells has also had his fair share of shoulder issues this season. He hasn’t appeared fully healthy this year, often coming out of games with shoulder problems.
Wells said he’s still only “90 to 95 percent” and said one of the only things he can do to heal his injuries is rest.
And there will be time to rest — Minnesota will not play again until a bowl game in late December or early January.
Wells said he expects to be 100 percent by then.
But for now, whether Vereen and Nelson will be healthy for the bowl game remains a mystery.