Gophers have no answer for run game

by Luke Middendorf

One week after surrendering 394 yards rushing to North Dakota State University, Minnesota again struggled to stop the run by giving up 307 yards on Saturday to Michigan.

Although the Wolverines were without their No. 1 running back, senior Mike Hart, who was sidelined with an injury, it didn’t stop them from having a powerful running attack.

Michigan used the motto “two heads are better than one” and gave Hart’s usual carries to sophomore backs Carlos Brown and Brandon Minor, who both flourished during their moment in the spotlight.

The sophomore backs each set career highs in rushing yards and carries in a game, as Brown broke out for 132 yards on 13 carries and Minor scampered for 157 yards on 21 carries.

A large chunk of Brown’s yards came on a single run, as he dashed for a career-long 85 yards into the end zone late in the fourth quarter.

Minor also broke out for a long gain, bursting through the middle of the Gophers’ defense for 46 yards in the fourth quarter.

Minor said he and Brown complement each other well.

“We try to make each other better,” Minor said. “After he goes in and has a run, he comes and tells me what the defense is doing, and I do the same thing as well. We help each other out.”

Freshman woes

After a very strong start to the season, Gophers freshman quarterback Adam Weber has struggled the past two weeks.

Last Saturday against the Bison, Weber threw for 182 yards, while completing 11 of 23 passes and an interception.

On Saturday in Michigan, Weber took another step back by throwing for just 99 yards while completing 14 of 30 passes.

Weber was hindered Saturday by the constant pressure he received from the front eight of Michigan’s defense, which he said affected his concentration and ability to get into a good rhythm.

“The biggest challenge today was trying to make the big play,” Weber said. “On third and long, I think I rushed myself a lot of times or forced it to a receiver when I didn’t have to. I wasn’t consistent as a quarterback today.”

Weber was sacked a total of three times on Saturday, but did not throw an interception after having 15 picked off coming into the game.

He did, however, have a fumble and also had serious problems converting on third down conversions, going 2-of-13 on the day.

The freshman also played a part in the Gophers’ inability to score an offensive touchdown on Saturday, the first time they have failed to do so all year.

Weber was one of eight Minnesota freshman that played significant roles in Saturday’s game, something that coach Tim Brewster said is necessary for the growth of this team.

“The young freshman that played for us today got a whole lot of life lessons,” Brewster said. “They’re going to learn from those lessons and they’re going to be better from it. I just couldn’t be more proud of those kids.”

Bennett shows potential

One true freshman on Minnesota’s roster that produced in a big way on Saturday was running back Duane Bennett.

Bennett busted onto the scene with the first 100-yard performance of his young career against Michigan, gaining a total of 106 yards on 20 carries.

The bowling-ball style of running that Bennett displays allows him to roll quickly through the gaps provided by the offensive line, while also bouncing off of secondary defenders and gain extra yards.

“I felt like I was getting into a nice groove,” Bennett said. “Coach kept going back to some key plays, and I kept getting eight or nine yards. So, I felt like certain plays were working for me today. Getting 100 yards is a confidence booster.”