Cupito looking to keep up success at IU

Matt Perkins

Minnesota’s football team has had a hard time finding momentum in the passing game this season.

But last week the Gophers’ air attack put up 396 yards on a great Ohio State secondary, sparking a type of momentum they’ve never had before.

Gophers junior quarterback Bryan Cupito hopes to keep the team’s offense soaring this weekend as they fly to Bloomington, Ind., to take on Indiana. The game kicks off at 11 a.m. Saturday.

“You’re only as good as your last outing,” coach Glen Mason said. “And he was pretty good against an awfully good defense.”

Indiana doesn’t boast the same defensive reputation as Ohio State, but they have held opponents to just 208.8 yards a game through the air this season.

So the difference this time around could be the Gophers more experienced passing game, specifically the improvements of Cupito.

The 396 yards Cupito threw for against the Buckeyes not only shattered a previous career high of 279 yards, but more importantly also gave him and his receivers a bit more confidence going into a road game.

That’s confidence Minnesota might need, seeing as last year the Gophers lost 30-21 on the road to Indiana, and the Hoosiers held Minnesota to a season-low 351 yards of total offense.

“Last year was very disappointing for us,” guard Mike Nicholson said. “Getting up to that 14-point start and just kind of going through (the motions) the rest of the way.”

Cupito has thrown for 1,604 yards and 11 touchdowns this season, while tossing six interceptions.

But, the stat of the season may be that the Gophers’ offensive front has allowed only three sacks.

And zero were allowed to Ohio State.

“Probably the thing is going under recognized, is the job the offensive line did in protecting him,” Mason said. “Ohio State had 31 sacks going into that game, and not only did they not get any sacks; they didn’t get close to him. I think that’s a credit to those guys up front.”

Cupito is using that protection to improve upon last season’s second-half collapse that saw him throw just eight touchdowns in the Gophers’ last seven games, while completing just 42 percent of his passes with six interceptions over that same period.

In terms of efficiency, Cupito had one of his worst performances against the Hoosiers last year, completing just 11 of 30 pass attempts for 182 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

Cupito said Indiana has only improved from last year’s contest.

“Indiana beat us last year and they’re better than they were last year,” Cupito said. “So we’ll have to play really well to win and hopefully come out on top.”

As the de facto team leader, Cupito said his guys will have to forget about the last-minute meltdown against Wisconsin and the second-half struggles against Ohio State if they plan on winning on the road this week.

“It’s probably good for us that we lost there last year, knowing that it could just as easily happen this year,” Cupito said. “We’ve definitely got to make up for last year.”