Rash of injuries plaguing the Gophers

Only four players have started every game for the team on defense so far.

Defensive Back Briean Boddy-Calhoun gets ready for a play at TCF Bank Stadium on Sept. 19.

Melissa Scharf / Daily File Photo

Defensive Back Briean Boddy-Calhoun gets ready for a play at TCF Bank Stadium on Sept. 19.

Ryan Falk

The Gophers have sent their medical staff out on the field a lot this season.
 
Minnesota has dealt with the most injuries head coach Jerry Kill said he has seen in 32 years, and the banged-up Gophers are 4-3 before a bye this weekend.
 
“There aren’t a lot of people winning when you have that many people out,” Kill said Wednesday
 
The team looked a lot different Saturday than it did against Texas Christian University to start the season. 
 
Minnesota has missed key starters like redshirt senior cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun, an All-Big Ten selection last year who missed both games against Northwestern University and Purdue University after suffering an injury against Ohio University.
 
Defensive end Alex Keith broke his hand in warm-ups before Saturday’s game against Nebraska.
 
The rest of the defense has been ravaged as well. 
 
Seven different players have started in the Gophers secondary, and seven have started at linebacker this season. 
 
Six different players have started on the team’s defensive line, and only four defensive players total have started every game for Minnesota this season: defensive end Hendrick Ekpe, defensive tackle Steven Richardson, cornerback Eric Murray and safety Antonio Johnson. 
 
Murray has been one of the team’s leaders on defense, but he’s had a rotating cast of young players around him all season.
 
“We just don’t have certain key players that can get the job done,” Murray said after Saturday’s loss to Nebraska. “Everybody needs to be able to get the job done.”
 
The offense hasn’t been immune to injuries either, especially along the offensive line. Minnesota has only had the same starters along the line for three of its seven games. 
 
The left side of that line has been especially hit, with redshirt junior tackle Ben Lauer playing three games and redshirt senior guard Jon Christenson playing only two games.
 
That offensive line’s lack of continuity had the Gophers offense struggling for much of the season’s first half.
 
Minnesota has also dealt with injuries at the skill positions, with tight ends Duke Anyanwu and Lincoln Plsek missing the first seven games so far.
 
All the injuries have tested the Gophers depth, and in some cases, it has been beneficial.
 
Freshman center Tyler Moore started his first game against Purdue, paving the way for Minnesota’s offense rushing for 326 yards. 
 
“To go in there and do what we did with the situation starting a true freshman center, which I’ve never done, my hat’s off to [the team],” Kill said.
 
Many of the Gophers younger players have also gained more experience, especially in the secondary.
 
“You do what you have to do, and you believe in the kids that you put in there,” Kill said Tuesday.
 
The bye week couldn’t come at a better time for the Gophers who will try to get healthy before their big game against the Michigan at TCF Bank Stadium on Halloween.
 
“We definitely need a bye week,” Murray said Saturday. “Given our current situation, a bye week will be very helpful for us.”