Cupito leaves as school’s all-time leading passer

Junior running back Amir Pinnix carried the ball 34 times for 179 yards.

.TEMPE, Ariz. – It was an ugly end to a mediocre season, but in the process the Minnesota football team continued its historic streak.

With junior Amir Pinnix’s run late in the third quarter, the Gophers reached 2,000 yards rushing on the season to go along with the 2,000 passing yards they had already amassed.

The 2,000/2,000 milestone is the eighth consecutive season Minnesota has achieved the mark, the only team in the country to do so.

It was quite evident coach Glen Mason could put together an efficient offense. Unfortunately, the poor defenses and historic collapses that have accompanied the offensive forces have led to a 27-35 conference record and sub-par bowls over the past eight seasons.

Cupito finishes on top

Senior quarterback Bryan Cupito leaves the Minnesota football program having set nearly every record at his position over the past three seasons.

Coming into the game as the school’s career passing leader, he added to that total at the Insight Bowl to finish with 7,446 career passing yards.

He finished the year with the most passing yards (2,819), most completions (214) and most touchdowns (22) in a single season in school history.

He also ended his career tied with Asad Abdul-Khaliq (2000-03) for career touchdowns with 55. Cupito also finished third in career 250-yard passing games with 10.

Mason said Cupito’s contributions to the program have been immense.

“Bryan is leaving the University of Minnesota as the all-time passing leader,” he said. “During his tenure, we went to five bowl games. He had a tremendous career.”

Tight ends impact bowl

On the heels of senior tight end Matt Spaeth’s decision to undergo surgery prior to the Insight Bowl, it appeared Minnesota would be shorthanded offensively.

Spaeth, after all, had 47 catches on the season for 564 yards and four touchdowns, proving to be a favorite target in Cupito’s passing attack.

And perhaps more importantly, Spaeth solidified the offensive line as a more than capable run blocker.

But in the midst of losing Spaeth, sophomore tight end Jack Simmons quietly and efficiently filled Spaeth’s shoes against Texas Tech.

Simmons had a career day in Tempe, Ariz., registering seven catches for 134 yards and one touchdown, most of which came in the first half.

But in the second half debacle, the Gophers shied away from using Simmons and his apparent efficiency.

“We tried to do some things scheme-wise in the second half running the ball,” Simmons said.

Despite the fallout in the second half, Minnesota seems to have found a suitable replacement for Spaeth – a senior who will most likely be on an NFL roster next fall.

Third downs tell the tale

Third down efficiency told the tale in the Gophers’ loss to Texas Tech.

The Red Raiders torched Minnesota’s defense on third down plays, converting on 7-of-10 opportunities throughout the contest.

On the flip side, Minnesota finished 6-for-14 on third down conversions, including two costly three-and-outs in the fourth quarter that ultimately allowed Texas Tech to force overtime.