Further questions arise from Gophers’ rout

John R. Carter

A convincing 44-14 win over Louisiana-Lafayette should be enough to answer the questions surrounding Minnesota’s football team, right?

The Gophers results in an easy 30-point victory should be enough to prove which quarterback, running back and defensive unit will lead the team to success the rest of the season, right?

Not so fast. This is the 2001 version of Gophers football, which made its home debut in front of an announced crowd of 35,089 at the Metrodome on Saturday.

This year no one knows what might happen week in and week out for Minnesota. Just ask the Gophers themselves.

Question number one involved the rotating quarterbacks. Against the Cajuns, Asad Abdul-Khaliq threw for 93 yards on just 4 of 6 passing. Entering the game in the third quarter in relief of starter Travis Cole, the sophomore was an instant spark.

Abdul-Khaliq tossed a touchdown on his first pass attempt, then later caught one from wideout Ron Johnson. Such a performance makes Abdul-Khaliq the front-runner for the leading role in the offense, right?

“I don’t know, I have to look at the tape,” Minnesota co-offensive coordinator Tony Petersen said. “There is a lot that can happen after looking at the tape.”

But Abdul-Khaliq clearly proved himself better than Cole, who was 10 of 21 for just 107 yards with one interception, and should see more action against Baylor this week, right?

“I don’t want a clear-cut (No.1 quarterback),” coach Glen Mason said. “I like when there is speculation.”

If speculation is what Mason likes at quarterback, then he must love his situation at running back – another question for Minnesota.

Tellis Redmon, the team’s leading rusher last season with over 1,300 yards, had a solid outing against Louisiana-Lafayette.

After Mason kept Redmon out of the offensive huddle in the first quarter for missing an academic counseling session, the junior ran for 95 yards on 14 carries (6.8 per carry) and should be the primary ball carrier the rest of the season, right?

“I don’t know,” said Mason when asked if Redmon will start next week against Baylor. “The door is always open.”

The door is wide open at tailback after true-freshman Marion Barber III’s performance against the Cajuns.

Starting in place of Redmon and playing over a rusty Thomas Tapeh, Barber ran for 173 yards on 26 carries and a pair of touchdowns.

So maybe it will be Barber who gets the call against Baylor. After all, he does deserves it, right?

“I don’t know,” said Barber.

On the other side of the ball, a return to defensive end by Greg White sparked a dominating performance by Minnesota’s defense. The speedy end notched a pair of sacks.

The Gophers didn’t allow Louisiana-Lafayette to earn a first down until the second quarter, on the Cajuns fifth possession of the game.

Minnesota prevented Louisiana-Lafayette’s offense from crossing midfield until late in the third quarter.

And the Gophers defense held Louisiana-Lafayette out of the endzone until the fourth quarter. By that time, it was too late.

All in all, Minnesota’s defense held the Cajuns to only 156 total yards (a meager 2.5 yards per play) and just seven points. Louisiana-Lafayette’s first score came off Cole’s interception.

The “drastic” changes Mason made last week, which included White’s move, were responsible for the rejuvenation on defense, right?

“I don’t know,” White said. “It is hard to tell.”

But White’s move was a major reason why the Gophers gave up just 30 yards rushing against the Cajuns, while allowing Toledo to run for 363 in the opener when White was at linebacker, right?

“I don’t know,” said Mason. “We need him at (defensive end), but we probably need him at linebacker, too.”

To recap, there is still a quarterback controversy. Now there is one at running back, too. And how the defense will stack up – or even lineup – next week against Baylor also remains to be seen.

But a win is a win, which is all that matters for the Gophers right now. The questions will just have to wait another week to be answered.

“Anytime we win a game I am pleased,” Mason said. “I have never been involved in a lousy win.

“Do you know the situation we would have been in if we had lost today?”

No one needs to know.


John R. Carter covers football and
welcomes comments at [email protected]