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The Sports Xchange, Published September 12 2013

Injuries piling up for Golden Gophers football team

MINNEAPOLIS – The University of Minnesota football team looks to stay undefeated this week, but injuries are piling up for coach Jerry Kill’s team.

The Gophers suffered a major blow as they prepared for Saturday’s home game against Western Illinois when it was announced junior cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun will miss the rest of the season because of a torn ACL in his left knee.

Boddy-Calhoun was injured on the third play of the Gophers’ 44-21 win over New Mexico State last week. He made an immediate impact in the opener against UNLV when he returned an interception 89 yards for a touchdown. Boddy-Calhoun has shown the ability to make game-changing plays and is a big hitter in the secondary, and Kill knows his loss will have a major impact.

“It’s certainly a blow to our football team,” he said in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Boddy-Calhoun was forced into a starting role when junior Derrick Wells injured a hamstring late in fall camp and couldn’t play against UNLV. Wells, one of the defense’s top returning players, made his season debut against New Mexico State.

“Briean’s a critical injury because he was playing at the highest level of any defensive back,” Kill said in the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “He’s a great kid. It’s hard to see something like that happen.”

Boddy-Calhoun’s injury isn’t the only one Kill is dealing with. Tailback Donnell Kirkwood, expected to be the focal point of the running game, sprained his ankle in the opener and didn’t play last week. Kirkwood’s backup, Berkely Edwards, sprained his ankle in fall camp and has yet to play this season.

With the top two backs out, Rodrick Williams gained 148 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown last week. David Cobb picked up 56 yards and also ran for a score.

“We’ll need them all,” Kill said in the Pioneer Press. “It’s a good problem to have.”

The Gophers suffered a scare when quarterback Philip Nelson sustained a shoulder stinger after taking a big hit against New Mexico State. The injury happened in the third quarter, but he remained in the game. Nelson has the ability to get out of the pocket and run, but that makes him vulnerable to taking hits. He ran for a career-high 122 yards and a touchdown last week.

Injuries aside, the Gophers shouldn’t have any trouble running their record to 3-0 when Western Illinois visits TCF Bank Stadium. The Leathernecks are 2-0, but their wins have been over Hampton and Quincy.