Porous defense gets a makeover, quarterback position undecided

After Minnesota’s defense gave up 38 points and 512 yards of total offense in an ugly season-opening loss to Toledo last Thursday, coach Glen Mason did some major restructuring to his defensive line this week.

Most notably, Mason moved Greg White back to defensive end after switching the senior to linebacker in spring ball.

Mason also jumped redshirt freshman Darrell Reid from defensive tackle to end and junior Ryan Domin from end to tackle.

The moves are designed to add more production to the corners of the defensive line. Mason said White will start at one end position, with senior Zach Vevea filling the other spot.

“(The moves) were not based on one game. I am not a knee-jerk guy,” Mason said. “You watch, you evaluate and then you see how they perform. But all of a sudden if they don’t perform well, then you look at what you have to do down the road.

“I just thought we needed more athletic ability at the defensive end position.”

Mason added he still expects junior Astein Osei and sophomore Tony Dupree, both of whom started at defensive end against Toledo, to see action at that position.

As for White, he is indifferent to the switch back to his old position. He’s just happy he is still starting.

“Wherever they need me, I will go,” White said. “It will work out. Moving back to d-end is like going back home, I guess.”

Mason also said true freshman Bradley Vance will start at linebacker alongside Phil Archer and Jimmy Henry, both of whom started against the Rockets.

Who be the QB?

There is still no word on which quarterback – Travis Cole or Asad Abdul-Khaliq – will start against Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday.

Neither were effective in the loss to Toledo, with Abdul-Khaliq playing most of the first half and Cole calling the shots the entire second half.

Although the pair combined to throw for just 187 yards and no touchdowns in the loss, Mason doesn’t sound too worried – as long as the pair can do on Saturdays what they do during the week.

“The quarterbacks have performed pretty darn good in practice,” Mason said. “And I know that doesn’t mean anything. I think the challenge for me as a coach, and us as coaches, is to get that position to perform as well as it is in practice.”

As for the quarterback guessing game that is driving fans and media members crazy, Mason doesn’t feel it has any effect on the players.

“If you ask me if I think they are playing poorly because one doesn’t know if he’s going to start or not, I don’t think that is a problem,” Mason said. “If I did, I wouldn’t do it. I wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize our chances of winning.”

Despite the poor showing against Toledo, the Gophers offense still scares Louisiana-Lafayette coach Jerry Baldwin.

“They have a dangerous offense,” Baldwin said. “We just hope they don’t get it on track against us.”


John R. Carter covers football
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