Minnesota nursing injuries on defense

Three of the team’s starters on defense left the homecoming game with injuries.

Minnesota defensive back Briean Boddy-Calhoun intercepts the ball Nov. 18, 2014 at TCF Bank Stadium.

Amanda Snyder, Daily File Photo

Minnesota defensive back Briean Boddy-Calhoun intercepts the ball Nov. 18, 2014 at TCF Bank Stadium.

Mike Hendrickson

The Gophers defense has been the rock of the team so far this season.
 
They have limited every opponent to less than 25 points each game, including allowing just seven points against Kent State. 
 
But in the game against Ohio on Saturday, injuries plagued the Gophers defense, and multiple players on the team’s secondary are now questionable for the team’s first Big
Ten game against Northwestern this Saturday.
 
Redshirt senior cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun, who left Saturday’s game in the third quarter, had an MRI on his knee but won’t need surgery. Boddy-Calhoun is questionable for Saturday’s game. 
 
“We’ll just have to see,” head coach Jerry Kill said. “Our whole secondary is a question mark except for [cornerback] Eric Murray.”
 
Along with Boddy-Calhoun, senior safety Antonio Johnson also left Saturday’s game with a concussion, and freshman defensive back KiAnte Hardin twisted his ankle. Kill
said the status of both players for the game against Northwestern will depend on how well they do in practice this week.
 
Senior safety Damarius Travis, who started against Texas Christian University in the team’s first game and has not played since, may still be out for a while, Kill said.
 
In addition to the losses in the secondary, redshirt sophomore linebacker Cody Poock’s status is still unknown for Saturday’s game, as he left the game against Ohio with an injury to his ribs. 
 
“You lose three starters … and you’ve got to line up and play again,” defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys said. “We’ve got to find out [with] the kids we have, what they do well
that matches up with Northwestern [and] give us the best chance to win, so that’ll be the priority.”
 
Against Ohio, Poock was replaced by sophomore linebacker Jonathan Celestin, who had only started one game this season.
 
Claeys said Celestin played the best he had in his career Saturday and added he likes the linebacker’s versatility. 
 
“We needed him to play well with Cody getting knocked out,” Claeys said. “He definitely had his most productive game since he’s been here. … We can put him in whatever we need him to do.”
 
Celestin didn’t start any games during his freshman season, but he played in 11 and may start his second career game if Poock is out. 
 
He finished the game against Ohio with eight total tackles, two more than the rest of anyone else on the team.
 
“Anytime my number was called, I’d be ready to perform for them,” Celestin said. “When I was called, I performed like I should have.”
 
While Claeys said the injuries on defense are an issue heading into the game against 
 
Northwestern, he said he is confident that Celestin and the rest of the Gophers potential substitutes can get the job done.
 
“Our kids are capable enough to get it done,” Claeys said. 
 
“It’s a matter of just coaches just putting them in the right places and finding out what they do best.”