Seniors to wrap up tumultuous careers

by Samuel Gordon

For 15 Gophers seniors, Saturday’s game will be their last at TCF Bank Stadium.

“[I’m] closing a chapter,” senior MarQueis Gray said. “I’ve done a lot of things here. Been through a lot. Overcame a lot.”

Nebraska drubbed the Gophers last weekend. Minnesota won its sixth game of the season to become bowl eligible Nov. 10, which detracted from the team’s focus against the Cornhuskers, senior linebacker Mike Rallis said.

Rallis said “guys started to get worn down,” but he doesn’t think his squad will have that problem this week.

“We had a little bit of a letdown,” he said. “I think this week, recognizing that was the problem, we’ll be able to correct it.”

Rallis’ senior class has experienced its fair share of adversity.

Since 2009, his freshman season, the Gophers have experienced several turbulent events — including the firing of former head coach Tim Brewster in 2010 and the death of former linebacker Gary Tinsley.

“It’s been a wild ride,” Rallis said. “We’ve got some great stories on this team. … I just want to cap this thing off the right way.”

Roster and injury notes

—Kill said the Gophers are striving to resemble the Huskers’ program. Nebraska has 29 seniors, and Kill said he wants to one day have that many.

—The Gophers have played several freshmen this season. Starting quarterback Philip Nelson is a true freshman, as is backup running back Rodrick Williams.

Last week, Kill said more than 20 players are redshirting this season, and he said he’s “excited about how good they’re going to be.”

—Kill said his first two seasons in Minnesota have been similar to the early part of his rebuilding efforts at Southern Illinois and Northern Illinois.

This season, though, the Gophers have been ravaged by injuries, and Kill said he’s never had a team this banged up.

Defensive lineman Roland Johnson injured his anterior cruciate ligament in last week’s walkthrough and won’t play Saturday, Kill said.

Linebacker Brendan Beal, who’s battled knee problems his whole career, hurt his knee again against Nebraska. He’s out, too, Kill said.

Kill said a total of 21 players are on the injured list.

—Gray said he’d spend time this week reflecting on his career before playing in his final regular season game.

“I’m going to try to take this week as slowly as I can,” he said. “Hopefully we go out with a bang this Saturday.”