Broken leg ends Mottla’s season

by Samuel Gordon

Gophers offensive lineman Zach Mottla will miss the rest of the season with a broken lower leg, head coach Jerry Kill confirmed Tuesday.

Mottla started the first three games at center and has spent time at guard. He was carted off the field after breaking his leg in the second half of Minnesota’s 17-3 win over Illinois on Saturday. 

Kill said Mottla had surgery to repair the injury and is optimistic about a speedy recovery.

“Home from the hospital!” Mottla wrote on his Twitter account Nov. 12.

The center position has been hampered by injuries all season. Against Illinois, Mottla replaced starting center Jon Christenson, who went down with a high-ankle sprain.

Former starting guard Zac Epping replaced the injured Mottla and finished the game at center.

Christenson is questionable for this week’s game against Nebraska, and Kill said Epping will probably play center again this Saturday. Epping has made four starts at center this season.

If Christenson is out, the Gophers will need to find a new backup center.

Both Ed Olson and Tommy Olson, who began the season as the starting left tackle and left guard, respectively, would practice snapping Tuesday, Kill said.

Ankle injuries have limited both Olsons this year. Ed Olson has missed the last four games, and Tommy Olson hasn’t started since Sept. 22.

“We’ll just see how practice goes,” Kill said of the center situation. “I wish I had a crystal ball that gave me the perfect answer right now, but hopefully we’ll get some of that answered over the next couple of days.”