Minnesota RB Donnell Kirkwood likely to miss game

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Minnesota likely will be without starting tailback Donnell Kirkwood for Saturday's game at New Mexico State. Kirkwood suffered a sprained ankle in last week's season-opening victory over UNLV.

The Golden Gophers also likely will be without true freshman backup tailback Berkley Edwards (sprained ankle), who was perhaps the school's top signee in February. Edwards, who chose Minnesota over Iowa and California, also missed the opener.

Junior David Cobb or sophomore Rodrick Williams will start in Kirkwood's place. Cobb rushed for 69 yards on six carries against UNLV; Williams, who was suspended for the first half for being late to a team meeting, had four carries for 13 yards. Cobb's yardage total was 4 yards more than he had gained in his first two seasons on campus.

Cobb (5-feet-11, 225 pounds) probably is the most athletic of the Gophers' backs, but his work ethic and focus had been problems.

Kirkwood (5-10, 223), a junior, lacks elite speed, but he is a physical runner who rushed for 926 yards and six TDs last season. He had eight games of at least 16 carries and four with at least 22.

Minnesota's leading rusher last week was sophomore quarterback Philip Nelson, who rushed for 83 yards and two TDs. But Nelson struggled as a passer, going 10-of-22 for just 99 yards, one TD and one interception.

One problem with Minnesota's passing attack is the lack of proven playmakers at wide receiver. No returning receiver caught more than 18 passes last season, and projected starter Jamel Harbison will miss his second consecutive game because of a discipline issue.

On Tuesday, coach Jerry Kill announced that promising sophomore wide receiver Andre McDonald would not play this season because of a violation of team rules. McDonald and Harbison were the centerpieces of Minnesota's 2012 recruiting class

New Mexico State surrendered 56 points and 715 yards to Texas last week.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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