MarQueis Gray needed 'badly,' Gophers coach says

A day after his offense was unable to put up any first-half points in a 31-13 loss to Iowa, Minnesota Golden Gophers coach Jerry Kill let the Star Tribune's Phil Miller know exactly how frustrating it is to be without injured quarterback MarQueis Gray.

"We need MarQueis -- badly," Kill said Sunday before expressing concern about the health of his backup quarterback Max Shortell in the short-term. "If Max goes down, what are you going to do then?," Kill said. "We've certainly laid awake at night hoping we're doing the right things."

Gray injured his knee and ankle in a win over Western Michigan two weeks ago, an injury that has forced the offense to rely on an unproven sophomore in Shortell in the meantime. While Kill does not sound entirely confident with his comment that Gray's progress has "leveled off", there's no denying just how vital the senior quarterback is to Minnesota's offensive gameplan regardless of when he can return to action.

Heading into a much-needed bye week should help Kill and the Gophers sort out their growing list of injured players including Gray, but it's still unclear if he'll be able to suit up on Oct. 13 for a key game against Northwestern. Shortell's three-interception performance on Saturday certainly didn't win him a ton of support in the locker room, and hopefully for the offense's sake Gray will be able to make tangible progress over the next seven days.

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