Marcus R. Fuller, Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn. –
The University of Minnesota football team likely will open the Big Ten Conference season Saturday, Sept. 29, at Iowa without injured senior quarterback MarQueis Gray, coach Jerry Kill said Sunday.
Gray’s left high-ankle sprain kept him out of the 17-10 victory Saturday over Syracuse at TCF Bank Stadium.
“Me and him came out of the locker room last night at the start of the game,” Kill said. “I’m 51 years old. I jogged, and he wasn’t jogging out. For him to get better that quick, that would be great. Has he come farther along than I thought he would? Yeah. But there will have to be some vast improvement.”
Sophomore Max Shortell, who threw for 231 yards against Syracuse, is expected to be the starting quarterback for the second straight week. Shortell replaced Gray in the second quarter against Western Michigan on Sept. 15.
Kill said he would let Gray rest and probably revaluate his ankle during the bye week. The Gophers (4-0) won’t play their second Big Ten game until the Oct. 13 homecoming against Northwestern.
The break also would give junior cornerback Martez Shabazz time to recover from a dislocated toe injury. Kill said Shabazz was one of the team’s most valuable defensive players.
“People don’t realize it because he hasn’t been playing, but he’s a damn good player,” Kill said. “We needed him Saturday with Syracuse. We’ll certainly need him later on down the road.”
Freshman receiver Andre McDonald, who went to the hospital and was released
after undergoing tests Thursday for an undisclosed reason, might be cleared to play this week against Iowa.
“They’re going to meet with Andre’s legal guardian and a couple doctors,” Kill said. “He had a couple procedures and tests that you have to be cautious when you bring him back. But everything I’ve been told by our trainer is that he’ll be fine, and we’ll move forward.”
Kill said sophomore receiver Marcus Jones (hip pointer) and sophomore offensive lineman Tommy Olson (ankle) were injured against Syracuse. Sophomore linebacker Lamonte Edwards also did not play Saturday because he was unable to pass a concussion test.