Gophers' Gray likely out for B1G opener

It might not matter the way Minnesota's defense is playing, but the Gophers likely will be without starting quarterback MarQueis Gray for this week's Big Ten opener against Iowa.

Gray is still working his way back from a left high-ankle sprain suffered Sept. 15 against Western Michigan. Minnesota coach Jerry Kill told reporters Sunday it would be a "minor miracle" if Gray returned this week against the Hawkeyes.

"I can't control the healing process, but right now, I'm not real optimistic [about] how quick that's going to come along," Kill said Sunday.

Kill mentioned that Gray couldn't keep up with him when they jogged out of the tunnel before Saturday night's game. For a quarterback who relies so much on mobility, that's not a great sign.

High-ankle sprains are significant injuries and typically take at least four weeks to heal. Minnesota fortunately has an open week after the Iowa game before hosting Northwestern on Oct. 13.

Backup quarterback Max Shortell completed 16 of 30 passes for 231 with no touchdowns and no turnovers in the win against Syracuse. If Shortell can continue to avoid turnovers, make plays when necessary and rely on his offensive line and run game, Minnesota should be in good shape against sputtering Iowa. The Gophers defense has been one of the surprise units through the first four weeks, ranking in the top 30 nationally in points allowed (16.8 ppg), pass efficiency (93.2 rating), takeaways (10) and sacks (11).