SJU football Thursday update

Thursday was John Gagliardi’s 86th birthday and the longtime St. John’s head coach got a birthday serenade from his team. The Johnnies players sang happy birthday before practice got underway at Clemens Stadium.

But as has been the norm, Gagliardi was not expecting a big birthday celebration.

“Since I’ve been coaching all these years, and my birthday has always come during the season, I’ve never really celebrated that much,” said Gagliardi, now in his 60th season at St. John’s and his 64th as a collegiate head coach. “It’s just a day that comes and goes.”

Instead, Gagliardi and his players continued to focus on Saturday’s game at Hamline. Freshman Nick Martin will again start at quarterback against the Pipers. But junior Connor Bruns, who has not played since separating his right throwing shoulder against Concordia on Sept. 22, has practiced all week. And he is expected to get in for at least a series Saturday.

Junior running back Nick Schneider remains sidelined by a groin injury and is not expected to play Saturday. But other players who missed time earlier this week were back Thursday, including running back Colin Moynihan, tight end Wade Powers, linebacker Taylor Dammermann and defensive end Connor Grill, who had a padded cast on his fractured right hand.

Grill, though, could be a game-time decision, though he said Thursday he feels he will be ready to play. If he cannot, Jeremy Hill and Sean Tillman would likely rotate at the position.

Tackle Pete Schwarz has been battling illness, but is expected to play Saturday. But that may mean Cody Zimmerman could see time there as well, giving Schwarz a breather.

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