Long climb continues for U

Michael Dougherty

Following a 45-15 loss to top-ranked Ohio State, Gophers football coach Glen Mason said it’s hard to evaluate the level of his team’s play when they go up against the tough Big Ten schedule.
He said he thinks his offense is improving and quarterback Andy Persby is developing a stronger grasp on the offense; however, he said his defense continues to disappoint him.
After starting the non-conference season with a perfect 3-0, Mason finds his squad in the midst of a three-game losing streak, and he seems to be getting a little bummed out. But getting thumped by national powers like Ohio State and Penn State will do that to a coach.
“Obviously Ohio State has got a very, very tough football team and that’s why they’re ranked No. 1,” Mason said. “We’re trying to get to that level and by no means are we there. We don’t have a wealth of talent, so we try to utilize what we have.”
The Gophers’ running game and pass defense are both glaring problems that seem to be frustrating Mason.
ù Last week Mason said, “I’ve never entered a game without the goal of winning it; I think it’s a big mistake if you do.”
After the Ohio State loss, however, his tune seems to be changing.
“Sometimes you minimize talking about winning, and you talk about doing your best,” he said. “Some people have a hard time understanding that.”
ù On his rushing attack, which has gained 232 yards in the last three games: “I’m not trying to give excuses, but our offensive line is awful young,” he said. “We’re going to still work on it and we’ll get better at it in spring practice, so hopefully next time we play Ohio State we’ll be able to run the ball.”
ù When asked whether or not he thought his team could move the ball against the stingy Buckeyes defense, he said, “You might call it lying to yourself, but every time we get the ball I think we can move it. If I didn’t, I’d punt on first down.
Boston in Minnesota
Ohio State has what Gophers defensive coordinator David Gibbs calls the two best receivers in college football in David Boston and Dee Miller.
Gophers cornerback Craig Scruggs, who got his third career interception on Saturday, called the duo the best he has ever played against.
Boston is rewriting the Ohio State record books, slowly but surely erasing many of the records current NFL standouts Cris Carter, Terry Glenn and Joey Galloway once held.
The junior had 10 receptions for 191 yards and two touchdowns Saturday, and many people think he will enter the draft after this season.
Boston’s father Byron also was on the field for another Minnesota game this weekend. He was a line judge in the Vikings 41-7 win over the Redskins on Sunday.
Going solo
Following a 19-tackle performance against Penn State last week, Gophers strong safety Tyrone Carter had 18 tackles against the Buckeyes, 12 of them solo.
His first solo tackle of the game moved him past former Gophers linebacker Pete Najarian, who finished his career with 237.
The junior’s 324 career total tackles move him into fifth place on the all-time list. Najarian also holds that record with 482.
Tougher than Na`ils
Buckeyes linebacker Na`il Diggs (pronounced Ny-el) overshadowed 1997 Butkus Award winner Andy Katzenmoyer with eight tackles (all solo) and three sacks.
It was the second straight week the offensive line has allowed an opposing linebacker to dominate them. Against Minnesota a week ago, Lions linebacker Brandon Short had 10 tackles (eight solo) and three sacks.
Homecoming eases his pain
Mason returned to Ohio State for the first time since he left his offensive coordinator position for the Kent State head coaching job in 1985.
At half time of the game, the Buckeyes honored the 1968 national championship team, of which Mason was a member. He said seeing those guys at half time was really something special.
“I’ll tell you what meant a lot to me, in fact it really humbled me,” he said. “When I came out at half time a bunch of former players came over to say hello, and I can’t tell you what that meant to me. It meant more to me than if I would’ve beat Ohio State today.”