Fraley and Banks surprisingly absent with team in ‘best shape’ in ‘a long time’

by Ben Goessling

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – After Minnesota football coach Glen Mason said Tuesday that the Gophers would be in “the best shape we’ve been in for a long time” against Indiana, Minnesota still held out starting defensive backs Justin Fraley and Trumaine Banks.

Fraley missed his second consecutive game with a calf injury, and Banks, who Mason said would be used on an as-needed basis, also sat out his second-straight game with an undisclosed injury.

Both players were listed in Minnesota’s starting lineup. But cornerback Ukee Dozier said the team knew before the game that neither player would play.

Junior Quentin White and freshman Jamal Harris started again in place of Fraley and Banks, respectively.

Defense loses its edge

After a series of team meetings led a revitalized Gophers defense to its first shutout in Big Ten play since 1990 last Saturday against Illinois, Minnesota exhibited many of its old problems against the Hoosiers.

The Gophers played perhaps their most aggressive defensive scheme of the year against the Illini.

But Saturday, Minnesota was back on its heels thanks to another spread offense. The Gophers often rushed just three linemen and had just one sack, compared with four last week.

“I think it was just the attitude of the defense,” said defensive tackle Mark Losli, who had the Gophers’ one sack. “(We have to have) the attitude that we’re not going to let anybody score on us.”

Spaeth lone bright spot

Tight end Matt Spaeth, left uncovered several times on rollout passes, responded with possibly the biggest game of his career.

Spaeth caught six passes for 95 yards, including two touchdowns.

He set up Minnesota’s only score of the second half by turning a bailout pass into a career-long 47-yard gain to Indiana’s three. Spaeth finished off the drive with his second score of the game, catching a three-yard pass from Bryan Cupito that brought the Gophers within three.

Winless at Memorial

With the loss, the Gophers extended a span of futility at Indiana’s Memorial Stadium longer than their skid at Michigan.

Minnesota’s last win at Indiana came in 1985 – one year before the last time the Gophers beat Michigan. Minnesota has four wins over the Hoosiers in the two teams’ last seven meetings at the Metrodome, but Indiana holds a 10-4 edge in the last 14 games between the teams.

Maroney’s milestones

Running back Laurence Maroney surpassed the 1,000-yard mark in the third quarter, becoming the first since Darrell Thompson in 1986-87 to rush for 1,000 yards in his first two seasons.

Maroney also became the first Minnesota back since Tellis Redmon (2000-01) to run for more than 1,000 yards in consecutive years Maroney joined Thompson and Redmon as the only Gophers to have multiple 1,000-yard seasons.