College football: Gophers’ Pirsig will be staying at left tackle
By Andy GrederSt. Paul Pioneer Press MINNEAPOLIS -- Gophers coach Jerry Kill took the blame Tuesday for not moving right tackle Jonah Pirsig to left tackle sooner in Thursday's 23-17 loss to Texas Christian. "That was too late," Kill said. "Made ...
By Andy Greder
St. Paul Pioneer Press
MINNEAPOLIS - Gophers coach Jerry Kill took the blame Tuesday for not moving right tackle Jonah Pirsig to left tackle sooner in Thursday’s 23-17 loss to Texas Christian.
“That was too late,” Kill said. “Made a critical mistake by not getting that done. … I blame us (coaches). I blame me.”
Pirsig helped shore up quarterback Mitch Leidner’s blindspot for the final three quarters against the No. 2-ranked Horned Frogs and could remain at that critical spot for Saturday’s game against Colorado State in Fort Collins, Colo.
“There’s a possibility that we’ll probably right now play Jonah at left tackle,” Kill said. “He’s playing very well, and (we’ll) just move Josh (Campion) over to right tackle, him and Foster (Bush).”
Campion, the expected starter at left tackle, was out with a concussion for the game against TCU, but he returned to practice Monday. Left tackle Ben Lauer started in Campion’s place but was removed after blown assignments; he did not practice Monday.
Kill said Lauer, who had preseason surgery on his left knee, still had soreness that made him ineffective against the Horned Frogs. Lauer tried to gut it out, but he blew a block on TCU defensive end Terrell Lathan that resulted in Leidner being stripped of the ball in the first quarter. The Horned Frogs recovered, and two plays later, scored their only touchdown of the first half.
Lauer was responsible for another pressure on Leidner before Pirsig moved over and Bush came in to play right tackle.
The Gophers’ juggling act on the offensive line started when Lauer, the preseason No. 1 at left tackle, had surgery in mid-August and missed about a week of practice.
Lauer, a junior from Wayzata, played in eight games in 2014, starting six at right tackle. After playing in 13 games as a freshman, he missed five games a year ago with injury or illness.
After starting all 13 games at left tackle in 2014, Campion was moved during the preseason to right tackle, where he started 26 straight games in 2012 and 2013.
The emergence of Pirsig at left tackle against TCU has made the Kill and offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover comfortable with their adjustment.
Limegrover said Pirsig, a junior from Blue Earth, Minn., used to be shy despite his enormous 6-foot-9, 324-pound frame. “Just taking it all in,” Limegrover said of Pirsig’s demeanor when he joined the program.
Now, Limegrover has noticed a change when he ask his linemen questions.
“He’s that guy that is going to answer every question I ask, is going to have that extra awareness, is going to do that extra video work to make himself that much better of a player,” Limegrover said of Pirsig now.
Pirsig, who played in 12 games and started seven at right tackle in 2014, had an undisclosed injury against TCU last season. Limegrover said he became healthy soon after last season’s third game and got on a roll.
“He … understands he’s got a great opportunity beyond here to be able to go and continue to play football and make money (in the NFL), with his frame and his athletic ability,” Limegrover said.
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